Spiders have a bit of a bad reputation and, for that, you can blame the movies and people who never actually had one. If you're thinking of getting your first arachnid, you may be wondering whether it is safe to have a spider or not. Luckily for you, we are here to clear things up!
A pet spider attack will only happen if the spider feels threatened. Even big tarantulas are more likely to run from humans (whom they can see as predators) than attack them. If a spider bites you while you're handling it, it was in self-defense, even if you weren't trying to hurt it.
But what makes a spider feel threatened by humans? What do you do if a spider attacks you and how dangerous is a spider bite? We answer all these questions and more below!
Despite what arachnophobes may want you to believe, spider attacks are not common. Like we said earlier, a spider will only bite you if it feels threatened as a defense mechanism. Nobody puts baby (spider) in the corner!
Most pet spider attacks happen when a person who never handles spiders does it while being nervous. In a way, it's like the spider can sense the nerves, starts fearing for its life, and activates its defense mode.
In the wild, a spider will strike because:
Now that we've covered the basics, it's time to address the facts and myths about spider attacks once and for all. Keep on reading!
This myth is very popular. Yes, most spiders are nocturnal and, as a result, more active at night, but they're not interested in humans. At all.
If a spider crawls on your skin while you're sleeping, likely, it didn't even notice you were there.
We repeat: To spiders, humans look like big predators and won't take a chance to ambush you while you're not awake.
The biggest myth out there. Most spiders are, in no way, dangerous to humans.
Likewise, a spider's venom is NOT lethal to humans.
Even a Black Widow, famous for being among the most venomous spiders, will not make someone die right away. But one of its bites can cause symptoms like pain or cramps and be very dangerous to children or the elderly.
This one's truth. Your spider pets or common house spiders can bite your dog or your cat but, again, only if they feel they are in danger. Mammals are not a part of a spider's diet.
If, for example, your cat keeps trying to destroy a spider's web, the spider will defend itself by biting the cat. Whether the cat will feel anything or have a reaction depends on the spider's species.
Only very poisonous spiders like the Black Widow could hurt or kill house pets. But, if they're left alone, there's no need to worry.
Your dog or cat is unlikely to interact with spiders, even if you have one as a pet. Why? Because let's say you get a tarantula, the spider will never leave its tank unless you take it out.
You do need to make sure your cat doesn't jump on top of the tank, though.
To further explain this subject, let's divide spiders into two groups.
We recommend you take your pet to a veterinarian if there are any signs that a spider bit it.
After addressing the myths and facts, let's answer more questions about spider attacks.
Pet spiders could attack anyone if they think they're in danger, and that includes their owner.
There's no scientific proof that pet spiders know they're pets, let alone who their owner is. Yet, some tarantula lovers beg to differ.
Spiders, including tarantulas, get in a defensive position when they sense a threat. You'll notice they'll pick up their pedipalps and rear back on their hind legs so that it will be quite obvious. But, sometimes, it happens very fast.
There are even species like Camel Spiders that can hiss and make sounds to, pretty much, tell you to back off. Still, not all of them make sounds. So, please take your time to learn about your spider’s body language.
No, there are other types of spider attacks. Let's discuss tarantulas once again.
On the rare occasions where they choose to fight over flight, they are more likely to flick their hairs. Why? Because these defensive hairs can cause itching and allergic reactions. Thus the name "urticating hairs.”
Tarantulas prefer to use their urticating hairs over biting to save energy. After all, they use their jaws to kill their prey and stay alive.
To put an end to this subject, you must know that if a tarantula bites you, it will be a dry, venomless bite. These spiders use their venom to inject their "victims" with it and eat them and are not likely to waste it on humans.
The first thing you need to do if a spider attacks you is to stay calm.
Yes, we know that's difficult in these situations, but we cannot stress this is enough; a spider pet won't kill you.
Although some people experience more pain than others, you should be OK with OTC pills for the pain. Yet, as always, we recommend visiting or calling a doctor as soon as possible.
If the place the spider bit you is swollen, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment. You may have to wrap the wound with a bandage as well.
Also, as we said before, a spider's bite is a lot like a bee's sting. So, if you're allergic to bee stings, there could be severe consequences.
Short answer: Don't pet spiders, especially if you've never had one before.
But, if you still decide to handle your spider, do it with care, confidence, and don't go fast. Also, remember to do it when the spider's awake, at night if possible.
Look at your spider and make sure that it is not laying eggs or moving too fast before taking it out of its tank. Study its behavior.
If you 100% must move your spider, you can also call your pet store for help. Yet, we repeat, your spider's better off alone in its clean, lonely tank. The only company they want its other insects... to eat them.
The best pet spiders for beginners are tarantulas because they're less aggressive. The Mexican Redleg and Chilean Rose species, in particular, are excellent choices.
These spiders are more docile, easier to pet, and have less potent venom. As a result, they make great pets for newbies and everyone. You need to make sure that it is legal to keep these species as pets where you live, so ask your pet store about it.
Oh, and please, don’t try to have a Black Widow in captivity, for real.