Size: Tarantulas can vary in size from as small as 0.2 inches to over 12 inches.
Color: Tarantulas coloring varies depending on the specific species and sex, though most tarantulas are brown and might have markings in a lighter or darker brown or red.
Tarantulas are easy to identify with their large size and signature hairy bodies. While some people keep tarantulas as pets, others would be horrified to find one in their house. Tarantulas can bite, but they’re not particularly dangerous to humans. Despite this, if you see a tarantula (or multiple tarantulas) in your home, it’s something you’ll want to address. Learn all about tarantulas, how to identify them, where they live, and what to do if you see them in your home.
What Are Tarantulas?
A tarantula is a type of spider, or arachnid, that comes in a variety of species and lives all over the world. These carnivorous spiders hunt their prey, primarily at night. They usually gorge on insects but have been known to eat larger prey, like mice, frogs, and toads, depending on the size of the individual tarantula. Unlike many other spiders that use webs to catch their prey, tarantulas do not. They grab their meal with their legs, inject their victims with a venom that paralyzes and liquefies their prey before sucking it up with their mouths.
What Do Tarantulas Look Like?
Not every species of tarantula has identical characteristics, but most are large, brown, and very hairy. Some have markings in varying shades of brown or red on their backs and legs. Tarantulas also have two six-segmented appendages near their mouth called pedipalps that serve a number of purposes, primarily for eating and reproducing. Tarantulas have hard exoskeletons that they must periodically shed in order to grow. This process of exiting their existing exoskeleton and growing a new one is called molting.
Where Do Tarantulas Live?
Various species of tarantula can be found all over the world. In North America, they’re most common in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, including most states west of the Mississippi River and up into central California.
Of the tarantulas that live in the U.S., most prefer arid locations like deserts in which to make their home. Unlike other spiders, they do not weave nests to catch prey or live in. Instead, they like to burrow holes in the dirt and live underground. They’ve also been known to seek shelter beneath large tree roots, under loose bark, and within rocky crevices.
Generally, tarantulas prefer the outdoors to the indoors since they like to live in underground burrows. However, tarantulas can enter your home by creating a burrow that leads them to a crack in your foundation or unsealed areas of the walls.
Problems With Tarantulas
Usually, if you find a tarantula in your home, it means there are other pests present that the tarantula seeks as a food source. Additionally, tarantulas have been known to bite humans. Their venom isn’t strong enough to cause any lasting harm for most people, but it can still be an unpleasant experience with swelling, redness, and some pain in the bite area. People who have been bitten by tarantulas often compare the sensation to that of a bee sting.
If you have bitten by a tarantula, you can take a few steps. First, wash the area with soap and water to prevent infection. Then, apply ice to the area to reduce pain and swelling. If the wound doesn’t improve or gets worse in a day or two, seek medical attention.
A tarantula’s hairs also contain venom, which can cause skin irritation. If you accidentally come into contact with tarantula hairs, you should use tape or tweezers to remove as many loose hairs as possible, then apply a steroid or allergy cream to reduce irritation. If you inhale loose hairs or get them in your eyes, seek medical attention.
Tarantula Control Solutions
If you see a single tarantula in your home, try and remove it if you can. Seal up any cracks or holes in the base of your house to keep the tarantula from coming back in. If you see more than one, it could be an indication that you have a larger pest problem attracting hungry tarantulas. In this case, call a pest control company right away to come and assess the situation and develop an eradication plan for you.
Common Tarantula Questions
Review these frequently asked questions to learn more about tarantulas:
Are Tarantulas Helpful?
Tarantulas, like most spiders, are super helpful in controlling insect and pest populations. Bugs like ants, crickets, and flies are their primary food sources, so a healthy population of tarantulas can actually make the outdoors more pleasant for humans by keeping these pests to a minimum.
Are Female or Male Tarantulas More Aggressive?
When it comes to humans, all tarantulas are skittish and unlikely to attack unprovoked. However, if they feel threatened, they may bite you. When interacting with one another, female tarantulas are often more aggressive toward male tarantulas than the other way around. Some female tarantulas have been known to attack and kill male tarantulas after reproduction.
Can Tarantulas Regrow Their Limbs?
Yes, tarantulas can regrow their limbs. However, they can only do so during the molting process, which happens as frequently as every month or as infrequently as every couple of years depending on the age of the tarantula. Usually, it takes several molting sessions for a limb to grow to the same length, strength, and hairiness as the original appendages.
While tarantulas might look menacing and dangerous, they pose little threat to humans. If you see one in your yard or home, remember, some people keep them as pets! Despite this, they can be an indication that you have an insect problem in your home. If you’re regularly spotting tarantulas, get in touch with a pest management company to help you manage the infestation and protect your home from further unwanted visitors.