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Tarantula Bites are Not Deadly to Humans

Tarantula Venom Not Deadly to Humans “Look up there,” my friend pointed up to a hole in the side of a tree. I looked through the dark of night, I saw the hole which sort of looked like a brown anus bored into the bark. “It is the nest of a tarantula.” “Are they dangerous?” [...]

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Tarantula Venom Not Deadly to Humans

“Look up there,” my friend pointed up to a hole in the side of a tree. I looked through the dark of night, I saw the hole which sort of looked like a brown anus bored into the bark.

“It is the nest of a tarantula.”

“Are they dangerous?”

“Yes, very.”

“Do you die if they bite you?”

“I think so.”

My Maya friend was guiding a tourist into the jungle for a night hike, I came along, too. I peered into the tarantula’s nest, looking for any sign of the big hairy spider who made the abode. I have seen tarantulas the size of a human head in the jungles of Peru, I looked for a similar beastie as I stood in the night time jungle of Guatemala.

At that time, there was no sign of the nest’s occupant. Though I would see tarantula’s later in my stay in the Guatemala jungle. In fact, I saw a dead one pulled out of a bungalow at the Finca Tatin, where I was working just a couple of weeks later.

tarantula in Guatemala


The tarantula snuck into the guest’s room, and, luckily for me — as my job at the finca consisted of extracting large spiders from the rooms of scared tourists on a regular basis — it was conveniently not detected until morning, after the guests had already split. A good thing, as this hairy, black, beastie would probably have made some very frightened guests at the Finca Tatin, guests who would probably not be consoled by my simple explaination that we are in the jungle and there are animals in the jungle.

“You came out here to see the jungle and the animals that inhabit it, and here they are! You just have to live with them, they generally don’t bite if you don’t mess with them.”

This explanation seldom works very well.

Even still, a shoe flung from the hand of another worker at the finca finished this poor tarantula off anyway. I looked upon his deadness, laying all busted up on top of a full bin of other garbage.

I did not even want to take a photo.

A couple of month’s later I came into contact with another tarantula. It was alive, on the wall of a restaurant up river from the finca. It was sitting in a little rock crevice that was constructed as part of the wall. I showed it to the workers. They just laughed at it, said it was big.

tarantula spider in a crevice

Tarantula hiding in between a rock crevice

“Do you die if a tarantula bites you?” I asked my question again.

The restaurant employees laughed. Nope, tarantulas are not really that dangerous.

It was this second opionion that was proved to be correct: no human has yet to been filed away for dead after receiving a bite from a tarantula. They are venonous, but not that venomous — there are only a few types of tarantula that can even produce a bite that will cause great discomfort for an extended period of time. In general, tarantulas are not very dangerous spiders — there are plenty of other species that can leave far more malicious biological complications in their wake.



Though it is possible for the bite of a tarantuala to become infected or for a human to have an allergic reaction to some of the proteins in their venom — but these is are extenuating circumstances. As is, the venom from a tarantula is not strong enough to render a man dead meat.

My friend doing the tour, apparently, wanted to scare the tourists. Me too, perhaps. A somewhat entertaining enterprise for the jungle Maya, I am sure.

But new world tarantulas do possess another defensive weapon that could prove to be more disconcerting than its venom: thin, sharp, urticating hairs on their underbelly that they can use to impale a small mammal or fling with their legs at an encroaching attacker. I have not yet faced the poor fate of having a tarantula fling these malicious hairs at me, but it seems as if they are similar to fiberglass slivers, as they are small and sharp enough to puncture the skin, the eyes, or be breathed into the nose. Apparently, tarantulas can rub their legs against their abdomen and send up an entire cloud of these little hairs at a potential attacker. Apparently, they hurt to be hit by.

Tarantula photos

From Wikipedia Tarantula

Tarantula fangs

tarantula eyes and mouth

The eyes and mouth of a tarantula

Tarantula claw

The claw of a tarantula

Habitat of tarantulas map

tarantula habitat map

Habitat of tarantulas

Tarantulas are not deadly to humans

Related articles: Scorpions eat spiders | Coral snakes in Guatemala | Fiddler Crabs | Scorpion stings Vagabond | How to live with insects in the jungle | Human bot fly


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Filed under: Animals, Central America, Danger, Guatemala, Rain Forests

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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