Holding a tarantula is a pretty unique experience. They weigh a lot less than they look like they should. The experience can change depending on the species for various reasons.
Tarantulas can feel a lot like velvet and are usually soft to the touch. They’re also much lighter than you’d expect to the point where you might not even feel them on your skin. Tarantulas need to grip your skin to avoid falling off, but this isn’t painful unless your skin is very sensitive.
Holding a tarantula is something all tarantula keepers should get to experience at least once while having one in your care. However, your tarantula might be very uncooperative. If you’ve never had the chance to hold a tarantula, then there are a few things you should know about attempting it.
What does it feel like to Hold a Tarantula?
Tarantulas are often described to feel like velvet and are a lot lighter in your hand than most people assume. They are usually room temperature, so tarantulas don’t feel hot or cold in your hand. Holding a tarantula for the first time can feel strange because they don’t fit the general expectations.
Most tarantulas are nowhere near as heavy as they look. They are generally very light for their size, and only the largest species, such as the Goliath Birdeater tarantula (Theraphosa blondi), feel heavy when they walk on you.
Tarantulas have paws with retractable claws, which grip the things they climb on. If they’re on your hand, they will also use them to grab your skin. This will not hurt you, but you may be able to feel them holding onto you. Some people report feeling this more from larger species of tarantula which also have larger claws.
How Heavy are Tarantulas to Hold?
This depends on the size and species of tarantula. Spiderlings and dwarf tarantulas can be so light that you wouldn’t even know it’s in your hand unless you’re looking at it. Other species have more weight to them.
Even heavy tarantulas are not especially heavy, however. The Goliath Birdeater tarantula (Theraphosa blondi) is the largest in the world, and a female at maximum size will weigh around 175g or 6.2 oz. This is the same as a large sharing sized bag of Haribo sweets, most fudge bags, or the drained weight of some tinned fruit.
Do Tarantulas feel Fluffy?
While they don’t feel fluffy, tarantulas are often compared to the feel of velvet. However, new world tarantulas with urticating hairs can be irritating.
Urticating hairs from their abdomen can fall off onto your hair, which can irritate your skin. They can cause itching, redness, and swelling. While tarantulas can feel soft to the touch, they can still hurt you by accident. The tarantula doesn’t want to hurt you. The hairs are part of their natural defence mechanisms against mammals and birds.
Touching a tarantula can also hurt them. It’s not natural for someone to hold them and in nature, being picked up by another animal usually means that animal wants to eat you. Touching a tarantula causes them additional stress.
Is it Scary to Hold a Tarantula?
If you are scared of spiders, holding a tarantula will be a scary experience regardless of the tarantula. If you find tarantulas scary, don’t try to hold them. Some species are much more docile and tolerate handling, while others are more defensive.
The most common pet tarantula species are docile and ‘friendly’, but no tarantula enjoys being handled by a human. Some of them also dislike the feel of our skin and will do their best to avoid directly touching us too.
Tarantulas are also very vulnerable animals. While some people might think they look scary, these animals are both extremely sensitive and vulnerable. If you’re nervous, it’s very easy to hurt or kill the tarantula when trying to handle them. A fall can easily kill a tarantula.
Does it Hurt to Hold a Tarantula?
Tarantulas don’t usually want to hurt you, but they can do. If the tarantula does try to hurt you, it’s because they’re scared and not because they are aggressive.
A scared tarantula may run away, take a defensive pose or kick off urticating hairs from their abdomen. The response depends on the species and the individual as well. Some species might be more docile in general, but there’s always individuals who will immediately go into a defensive posture. In other cases, species known for being very defensive can also have more docile individuals.
Getting scared while holding a tarantula because of their reaction can cause accidents. If possible to drop a tarantula if they suddenly become defensive, which can hurt or kill them. You could also accidentally squash a leg when moving them, and placing pressure on them could lead to a bite. Holding still after being bitten is difficult and throwing the tarantula is a common natural response to a bite.
Should I hold my Tarantula?
Your tarantula will not benefit from being held. They may tolerate it, but they won’t like the experience. Holding a tarantula is usually for your benefit, not theirs.
There are rare occasions when you may need to use your hand to move a tarantula, but if you have a catch cup ready, this shouldn’t happen often. Tarantulas are vulnerable and sensitive animals, so holding them will put them at risk of harm. It’s very easy to hurt or kill a tarantula when you’re holding one, so it’s best not to do so.
How can I hold my tarantula?
Letting your tarantula walk on your hand is the best way to experience ‘holding’ a tarantula. Placing your hand on the floor in front of your tarantula lets them decide if they want to walk on your skin. If you do this, you need to test their mood first to avoid being bitten.
Using a soft brush or poking tool, gently touch the tarantulas back leg to see how they react. If they try to bite it, the tarantula is hungry or feeling especially defensive. Don’t attempt to hold a tarantula if they respond like this. If the tarantula moves forward slightly, then they may cooperate with you.
You can encourage the tarantula to move a bit forwards and onto your hand, but you should never try to force this. The tarantula may not want to move, or they may dislike the feel of your skin under their paws.
Not all tarantulas will want to walk on your hand, and trying to force them is an easy way to get bitten!
Holding tarantulas is a unique experience that very few people will ever get to experience. They feel softer and lighter than most people assume by looking at them. While holding a tarantula is possible, it’s generally not a good idea. Tarantulas are vulnerable animals, and a fall can hurt them or even potentially kill them. They might not want to hurt you, but a tarantula can become defensive and getting scared by their reaction can cause accidents.