Can You Die From a Tarantula Spider Bite?

Some people keep tarantula spiders as pets – and there’s always the risk of a bite. Can a tarantula spider bite kill you? Find out more about these fierce-looking eight-legged arachnids, and whether their bite can kill you.

Tarantulas – often called baboon spiders because they’re so hairy – are large, rather intimidating-looking arachnids that some people keep as pets. Of course, if you’re a tarantula owner, there’s always the possibility that these fierce-looking creatures will feel threatened and take a bite out of you. How serious is a tarantula spider bite? Can it kill you?

Tarantula Spider Bites: What Harm Do They Cause?

A tarantula spider has tiny appendages on their face that excretes venom to help them bring down their prey, but this isn’t the only form of defense this eight-legged creature has. They have barbed hairs they can extend at will to aid in their defense and injure prey. If a tarantula spider extends these hairs and they touch your skin, they can cause a skin reaction similar to an allergy – but if they get into your eyes, the effects can be more serious. There are cases of severe eye injury that have progressed to glaucoma in people who had these small hairs penetrate an eye. It’s also not uncommon for people to be allergic to tarantula spider hairs.

But Can Tarantula Spider Bites Kill You?

Tarantula spider bites are usually not fatal. The tarantula spiders found in America are much less harmful than ones from Africa, Asia and Australia. The bite of a tarantula spider these areas can cause hallucinations and severe muscle spasms that last for weeks after the encounter.

Tarantula spider bites from tarantulas in the United States usually cause local reactions such as pain and redness at the site of the bite, although some people develop transient joint swelling and muscle aches. In some cases, it may not seem that medical care is necessary, but it’s a good idea to have a tarantula bite checked out. Some people have allergic reactions to the venom, which can progress to fatal anaphylaxis.

Tarantula Spider Bites: The Bottom Line?

Fortunately, tarantula spiders aren’t aggressive by nature and generally won’t attack unless they’re threatened. When they do bite, it usually feels like a bee sting. The good news? You’re unlikely to die if you sustain a tarantula bite unless you have a severe allergic reaction. Still, it’s a good idea to get prompt medical attention for a tarantula spider bite – to be safe.


Cutis. Volume 87, January 2011. Pages 10-12.

British Journal of Ophthalmology. 1991; 75: 253-254.

Liked it
6 Responses to “Can You Die From a Tarantula Spider Bite?”
  1. CHIPMUNK Says...

    On January 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    interesting info

  2. Sheila Barnhill Says...

    On January 31, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I hate spiders! My daughter wanted a tarantula as a pet when she was younger and i told her if she got one, she was going to clean her own damn room! lol

  3. Larry Fish Says...

    On January 31, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Good article, thanks for the info.

  4. Nate Says...

    On May 26, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Actually, baboon spiders refers to the tarantulas of Africa. The barbed hairs that she is referring to are called urticating hairs and can be kicked off the spiders back using its legs when threatened. This is normally in the face of some predator causing significant pain in its eyes and nasal passages. On human skin, this normally only causes an annoying itching sensation. Urticating hairs are only found on tarantulas from the New World (North & South America).

  5. T J Marcott Says...

    On August 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I think it should be mentioned that some Honduras Tarantulas may be agressive, and the best way to tell is to look for bald spots on the back of the abdomen. The bald spots indidcate that the spider is used to rubbing the hairs off of it’s abdomen…which is their first line of attack. Also, the hairs float in the air and are easily inhaled, which can inflame mucous membranes and disrupt breathing. Asthmatics, or anyone who has a breathing or lung condition is vulnerable to such an attack.

  6. Socorro Lawas Says...

    On August 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I have a holy fear for spiders.

Post Comment
comments powered by Disqus