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Las tarántulas y sus mitos
Enemigos de las tarántulas
Ciclo biológico y reproducción
Tarántulas mexicanas
Primeros auxilios y enfermedades
Taxonomía y anatomía de las tarántulas
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Diferencias entre insectos y arácnidos
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First Aid and Illnesses


Tarantula bite

If you were bitten by a tarantula, there is really no specific treatment available for this. Therefore, you will just have to observe the symptoms and treat then accordingly.

The great majority of American tarantulas have venom that is not toxic to humans. Some people describe it as being similar to a bee sting. In my experience, the actual bite hurts more than the venom. However, Asian and African tarantulas have more painful venoms, and have consequences that require more care. In this case, you should follow a treatment that deals with the symptoms you show. If you begin with an allergic reaction, then use antihistamines, and then fight the pain with analgesics.

In the history of mankind, no human deaths caused by a bite from these animals have been reported, not even by an allergic reaction.

Urticating hair rash

As I have already stated before, some American tarantulas have perfected their defense mechanism with urticating hairs that grow on the top part of the opisthosoma, or on other parts of their bodies, depending on the species.

Sometimes the spider throws the hairs at the target, and sometimes they stick by direct contact. Many times, after handling our tarantula, without it having thrown urticating hairs, we get an itchy rash. This is because these hairs are not fixed to the exoskeleton, they fall on the ground they live on, and when they walk on it, they stick to the scopula pads on the tip of their legs, and that is how they reach your body.

This is another reason why you should never handle your tarantula.

If you already have the rash, there is really not much you can do to get rid of the hairs. All you can do is wait for them to be expelled by your body in a process that could take days or weeks.

But there is a practical solution to get rid of the itch, just apply hot water - not scalding- on the area where you have the itch for about three seconds, and the symptoms will automatically disappear. However, this will not keep the itch from coming back the next day. Good luck!

Tarantula illnesses

There are really very few illnesses related to tarantulas, and the number of them has not been clearly determined, let alone treatments for them.

| Parasitosis | Nemathodes | Exoskeleton fracture of fissure | Dehydration|
| Clumsy and involuntary movements | Spots on the body |
| White spots on the hind part of the opisthosoma | Very active tarantula |
| Tarantula does not move from top of its water dish | Tarantula up-side-down |
|Tarantula with trouble molting |

You could also have infestation of mites, as explained in the section on Moisture.



Most illness problems that we can encounter are caused by parasites. This is the great risk you take when buying an illegal tarantula or a “legal” one extracted from the wild. A very common cause of Parasitosis is when some other type of arthropod inoculated its larva inside the tarantula to eat it alive, and this will be hard to detect at first. Later in time you will be able to see the larva bundle growing inside the tarantula, and then the death of the host that precedes the birth of the parasite. In these cases, there is nothing that can be done, except observe what kind of animal was a parasite to the tarantula. We would be very grateful if you could take a picture of it when it comes out, in its chrysalide state, and in its adult state once it comes out, in order to study it.

Pupa parasite

Parasite coming out of the opisthosoma


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Another terrible parasite case happens with another little bug called a Nemathode. They are very tiny worms, barely visible to the naked eye. They lodge in the tarantula’s digestive tract, starting at the mouth, spreading slowly throughout the entire digestive tract, and causing death. There is no effective treatment available to save the tarantula. The sign that can be observed at first is that the tarantula starts to drool constantly a pale white liquid. Later on, the nemathodes are visible. When you detect an infestation of this type, it is very important to remove all tarantulas from this area, leaving the sick tarantula where it is, since it is likely that the area is already contaminated. Taking it out from its tank would not be a solution, since the rest of your tarantulas could still be at high risk.

Sacrificing the tarantula would be the best thing to do, and once you have removed all the other tarantulas, proceed to thoroughly clean the entire area, either with a 10% chlorine solution, or better yet, get a sanitizing solution of quaternary ammonium salts, and very patiently clean the entire area. Do not forget to keep the other tarantulas under observation to detect any further contamination. Believe me, I have heard of horrible cases that happen from not taking the necessary precautions.

Other than these, there is really no knowledge of other illnesses, even though there are ongoing studies on this subject. If I receive notice of serious and proven results, I will let you know.

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A very common accident due to inappropriate handling of tarantulas is when they fall. Since they have a very fragile exoskeleton, a fall could cause their death. Remember that their circulatory system is open, and the hemolymph runs freely inside their body. A fracture can be translated into a literal loss of hydraulic pressure, and the leakage of fluids that will result in their death.

What to do in case of a fracture? First of all, don’t panic. Take it easy. Place the damaged tarantula inside a refrigerator to lower its metabolism. Doing this can be very dangerous, be careful! If you leave it longer than needed, it could die. Leave the tarantula inside the refrigerator for 10 minutes, at the most, and take it out. If it still is very active, leave it inside longer, but don’t close the refrigerator door so you can keep an eye on it. This is very useful when dealing with very aggressive or fast tarantulas. Once the tarantula has calmed down, place a small piece of toilet paper on the wound, and, on top of the paper, put a few drops of cyanoacrylate (super-glue). The glue will dry immediately sealing any open wound. If the wound is small, you don’t need the paper, just apply the glue directly. As you can see, it is very important to keep glue in the refrigerator. If the fracture happened on a leg, the tarantula will very likely perform a self-amputation of the limb, usually at the trochanter, where it is joined to the body. This is where it has an anatomical structure that works as a check valve that stops the hemolymph from leaking. A completely functional new limb will be regenerated in the next molting.

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It is very common for tarantulas extracted from their environment to be dehydrated, because for a while they haven’t been given water in a way they can drink. In pet stores, they usually put in cotton balls soaked in water for tarantulas to drink from, but it is practically impossible for them to absorb water this way.

When they are dehydrated, what you will observe is that the opisthosoma will be very reduced, and in some cases shriveled like a raisin. The first thing you must do is place a water container at ground level, and place the tarantula on top of it, hoping the tarantula will drink. If it can´t drink immediately, don’t worry. Wait a little while, and she will stand on top of the water dish and moisten her lungs with the evaporation of the water. If she still doesn’t drink, try to put her prosoma (head) inside the dish - she will not drown. Remember that her lungs are on the underside of the prosoma. They will start to drink saving themselves from dehydration.

Some authors recommend injecting them with water using a 0.5 ml insulin needle where the trochanter and the prosoma join, where there is a very soft spot. I personally haven’t been in the situation where I have had to do this, so I can’t really assure this will work. But if the tarantula is dying of dehydration and does not drink water, this is surely better than nothing.

Remember that tarantulas seldom drink, but when they need to, they should have a water dish within their reach at all times!

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This is usually happens as an effect of a pesticide. This situation is more common than we would like. Tarantulas are very sensitive to every type of pesticide, even to the kind placed on the outlets to ward off mosquitoes, or the ones that say they are not toxic. It is not likely the tarantula will recover, but it is better to hope for a miracle, and expect a recovery.

There is an illness, probably of a bacteria or viral nature, that also causes very clumsy movements, constant salivation, and later on death, but not much is really known about this illness or its cure.

Avoid at any cost placing your tarantula close to any pesticide or residue, such as previous fumigations of the area, for up to two months afterwards. Make sure that all elements you have placed in her terrarium are completely free of these substances.

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This happens because the moisture content of your terrarium is very high, and lets certain fungi invade the exoskeleton, showing as pale while spots. This is very easily treatable, just lower the moisture content in your terrarium immediately, and with a paint brush or cotton swab, clean the spots on your tarantula with quaternary ammonium salts, or a solution of 10% chlorine in water, every day until the spots go away. Usually two sessions will be enough.


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This happens because she is soiled with her own feces, probably because her container is too small and she can´t defecate without getting soiled. This happens frequently with imported tarantulas that are transported in small containers. You only need to clean them with water and a cotton swab.


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This is probably happening because your tarantula is a sexually active male, and this is a normal behavior, since it is probably looking for a mate. If this is not the case, your tarantula might not like the substrate. Modify the moisture. If it is very dry, moisten it, or vice-versa. Another thing that might bother them happens when a female cricket deposits its eggs in the substrate, and they hatch, bothering him constantly. To get rid of these little crickets, just stop moistening the substrate, and they will jump into the water bowl and drown.

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Immediately moisten the substrate. This will make her more comfortable.

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The tarantula is in its molting process. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD YOU BOTHER IT. Wait a few hours and you will find a tarantula sporting a brand new exoskeleton with beautiful colors.

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If the tarantula is very young, let’s say less than 4 cm long, it is important to keep its terrarium humid, since the is a theory that they still don’t have their pleura fully sealed at their joints, so they need external moisture to do this effectively.

If a piece of shed skin is stuck to the body, just moisten this part constantly, until you can gently remove it. Be careful, if it’s still hard to remove, keep applying moisture. If it still won´t come off, leave the skin there. Do not pull at it.

If the part sticking is a limb, use the same system, but if this is causing a lot of problems, you will need to pull gently on the limb, breaking it off at the trochanter, because there is a valve there that will stop the hemolymph from leaking out. Don’t worry, as I’ve told you before, this limb will regenerate in the next molting.

It is very important not to interrupt the molting process with movements or vibration, and even less with prey around bothering your tarantula. Remove all crickets or any type of food around her, since sometimes the tarantula can become the prey.

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The following photographs show an unknown cancer-like illness, which caused the tarantula’s death.

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