Well, first let’s explain the difference between being poisonous and venomous.
Venomous animals deliver toxins directly, usually with a stinger or fangs. In other words, the toxin is injected, like a bee sting.
Poisonous animals generally produce a toxin that’s dangerous when touched or consumed. A classic example of a poisonous animal would be a fire salamander, which secretes a strong toxin from glands on its head. If the toxins are ingested, it can be fatal for the predator.
This means that tarantulas are venomous, but tarantulas aren’t poisonous. Make sense?
Every tarantula on the planet has venom of various strengths, in varying amounts. Some can deliver quite a bit of venom, while others not so much.
Interestingly, Old world tarantulas are known to have noticeably stronger venom than New world tarantulas, perhaps because they have no urticating hairs and rely entirely on biting as a form of defense. Remember, Old world is basically Africa, Asia, and Europe, while New world is North and South America.
Tarantulas deliver venom directly into their prey using these formidable fangs.
Here are three common questions I get asked by well-meaning folks after they ask if tarantulas are poisonous:
Can tarantulas be de-venomized?
The short answer is no—removing a tarantula’s venom glands is just not something that’s done. It would be overly complicated and dangerous to your pet tarantula.
Can tarantulas be de-fanged?
Again, the short and blunt answer is no—if you were to remove a tarantula’s fangs the spider would starve to death because it couldn’t kill or ingest prey.
Is there tarantula antivenin?
Once again, the answer is no. The main reason there’s no tarantula antivenin is because it’s generally accepted that the venom from a tarantula bite is not life-threatening, so there’s really no demand for it by hospitals to my knowledge. And nope, I didn’t misspell the word—the correct term is “antivenin,” and not “antivenom,” contrary to popular belief.
If you’re reading my page about whether or not tarantulas are poisonous, I’m guessing you’re probably here because you’re really wondering, “Are tarantulas dangerous?” I’d highly encourage you to peruse my website and learn what wonderful pets tarantulas can be in captivity.
The above information is for informational purposes only. I’m not qualified to provide medical advice—this is all anecdotal information. If you’re ever bitten by a tarantula, please contact your medical provider immediately.