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All about the tarantulas – their habitat, sting, treatment, and how to avoid their bite.

Tarantula spider in threat position warning of their intent to defend themselves

Theraphosidae and Lycosa species

Description: Tarantula spider camouflaged in leavesVery large, brown, black, reddish, hairy spiders. Tarantula size ranges from 1-4 inches with legs as long as 12 inches.  Most tarantulas are brown.  Tarantulas have eight legs and two additional appendages that they use to grip prey.  Large fangs that fold much like a pocketknife, inflict painful bite but no tarantula has a bite that is deadly to human beings.  Before biting the tarantula typically rear up into a “threat posture”, raising their front legs and signaling their intent to defend themselves.  Tarantulas can also “throw” their hairs and in some species, these hairs can puncture the skin causing irritation.  These hairs can be particularly problematic if inhaled or if they come into contact with the eye.

Symptoms: Tarantula spiderSymptoms of a bite can vary greatly depending on the species.  The effects from the bite of some species may be little more than a bee sting while other species can produce symptoms including extreme pain, muscle spasms, itching, rapid heart rate, skin rash, swelling, and hallucinations.

Treatment: Wash the affected area with soap and water.  Cover the bite with ice for 10 minutes, then remove the ice for 10 minutes.  Repeat as needed.

Habitat: Desert areas, tropics.

Distribution: Americas, southern Europe.

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