Can You Cuddle a Tarantula? (No! Here’s Why…)

Tarantulas might seem huge and scary to some of us, but they are still much smaller and more fragile than we are. Cuddling and touching might make some animals happy, but this can be deadly for tarantulas.

It is not possible to cuddle a tarantula. While you may touch them briefly, tarantulas do not enjoy being picked up or touched regularly by humans. Tarantulas are fragile, making it easier to harm or kill them accidentally. Trying to cuddle a tarantula will most likely hurt or kill them.

There are many reasons why trying to cuddle a tarantula is a bad idea and why it could seriously harm them. These animals are much smaller than us and are very delicate creatures that we can accidentally harm. However, trying to cuddle them can also hurt us.

Why can’t you Cuddle a Tarantula?

  1. Tarantulas are Delicate

Invertebrates such as tarantulas are much ‘softer’ than we are, making it easy for us to hurt them without meaning. Tarantula abdomens are especially vulnerable to falls, and being dropped can cause them to rupture, which leads to death. This means picking a tarantula up and holding them above the floor is very dangerous for them.

Tarantula legs are also delicate, and attempting to hold a tarantula in place so you can touch them could cause them to lose a leg. Holding a tarantula in place can also lead to holding onto their abdomen too hard and causing internal ruptures.

  1. Tarantulas Don’t Like to be Handled

Being touched and handled is not natural for tarantulas. In nature, if a tarantula is being picked up, it means another animal wants to eat them. Picking up a tarantula triggers an innate defence response because it’s not natural for them, and they don’t like it. Handling a tarantula causes them a tremendous amount of stress since they assume death is imminent.

Some tarantulas can get used to being handled, and others might not mind it as much as others. This doesn’t mean that the tarantula likes to be touched or held by a human, but they can tolerate it.

  1. Tarantulas can Irritate Your Skin

Some tarantulas have urticating hairs all over their abdomens which are used to defend against potential predators. These are usually found on New World tarantulas from regions such as the Americas, which are typically recommended as pets for new keepers.

Urticating hairs can become embedded in skin or eyes, which causes irritation, discomfort and pain. Some tarantulas have worse urticating hairs. The ones from a Goliath Birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) can cause blindness if embedded in the eye.

New World tarantulas will use their urticating hairs if they feel threatened, and picking one up is an easy way to make a tarantula feel threatened. Tarantulas may kick hairs off their abdomen into the air, which land on your skin and may get stuck in your eyes or throat. However, these hairs can also fall off or be attached to the claws on their paws which can hurt you. The tarantula might not try to harm you or feel threatened by the hairs can still be a problem.

  1. Tarantulas may become Defensive when Disturbed

When a tarantula is disturbed or feels threatened, they may perform a threat posture at you. If this happens, it’s best to leave the tarantula alone. New World tarantulas are more likely to kick urticating hairs at you, but Old World tarantulas don’t have those as a defence mechanism. Old world species are much more likely to bite as it’s one of their only protection methods.

Being bitten while holding the tarantula will make you instinctively want to throw or drop the tarantula. A threat posture while holding the tarantula can also be very intimidating and cause you to react in a way that either gets you bitten or hurts the tarantula.

  1. Tarantulas can’t show Affection

Tarantulas cannot show the same level of affection as a mammal such as a dog or a cat. They are driven mainly by their instincts which tell them being picked up or touched is very bad. Research has shown that invertebrates don’t have much of an ability to feel complex emotions like many other animals, which means the tarantula cannot feel love or affection for you.


Trying to handle a tarantula is rarely ever for their benefit, and trying to cuddle one is not for their benefit. They are not animals that want you to touch them or cuddle them, and they aren’t ones you can handle much. Tarantulas are vulnerable and delicate creatures, making it easy for us to hurt or kill them accidentally. Spending a lot of time touching them may cause them to become defensive, making them more likely to get hurt. While some tarantulas can tolerate being touched, it’s best not to do so.

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Stuart is the editor of SpiderAdvice.