Spider Ownership

  • Pet spiders are generally low maintenance, but owners should choose spiders that are the least poisonous to humans. Tarantulas are especially popular, but they can be aggressive and are more dangerous to those with allergies.
  • Spiders are wild animals and cannot be domesticated as well as other pets. Spiders generally maintain active, aggressive, and fast characteristics throughout their lifetime.
  • Many spiders are not poisonous to humans: they are too small to bite through skin, their venom is not adapted to humans, or they have too little venom.
  • Venomous spider-bites can be very painful, and bites from some venomous species may be deadly.
  • Occasionally there are reports of spiders attacking owners to protect their nests. Many spiders are adept climbers and can escape through small crevices. Spider enclosures must be properly sealed.
  • Venomous spiders found in the wild should not be taken as a pet. In the U.S. these species include the black widow, brown recluse, hobo spider, and yellow sac spider.
  • Tarantulas possess utricating hairs that can be flicked if it the animal feels threatened. Inhaling these hairs may cause mild irritation and itching.
  • Most spiders have short lifespans, but with proper care tarantulas can live for a long time. Adult tarantulas bought in pet stores can be 3-10 years old. Owners must be prepared for continued responsibility.
  • Adult spiders are generally wild caught, which may add pressure to wild populations. It is better to buy a captive bred spider.

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Sources: Marshall, SD Tarantulas and other Arachnids; Jones J. Meet the Tarantula, International Society of Arachnology; Chilean Rose Tarantula, Woodland Park Zoo; Rayor L. Important Features of Spider Biology (Spider Outreach), Cornell Dep. of Entomology

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