An object of fear throughout the world, the tarantula is the fuzziest of spiders, making it look larger. Normally slow-moving, they come out of their subterranean lairs to hunt at night, often crawling into people’s houses and sometimes their beds.
In addition to their poisonous fangs, they have an even worse defense mechanism, which is to throw hairs into the eyes and faces of anyone who bothers them. These hairs are incredibly itchy and stingy. If a tarantula stands up on its back legs, then watch out, it may be pissed off and ready to strike.
The venom of the tarantula is actually not very strong, and used mainly to immobilize small prey. Despite its fearsome appearance, it is one of the most docile of spiders and you can easily pick one up when found in the wild. They will not bite unless you really get them in a bad mood. Tarantulas make great pets, and you can order one here if you live in the United States: Buy a Tarantula.
The photo shown here was a wild tarantula that we caught at the hotel, and our yoga instructor Mandy let it crawl across here face! Very brave woman!
Tarantulas can be found on the roads at night in Costa Rica, but they’re difficult to catch at night. I believe it’s because their eyes are accustomed to the dark and they see very well, and run quickly when approached. But during the day they seem to be nearly blind, and so they generally walk slowly and behave in a much more tranquil manner.
Here’s a video of me catching and holding one, which I released in our garden at Rancho Delicioso to help with pest control: