Tarantula question

How do tarantula’s throw the hairs that are on their backs? Do they simply shoot them out of their backs at an enemy? Or do they pick them out with one of their legs and flick them at an enemy? I have a bet with my friend on this one so could you please settle our dispute?

Ummmm, ummmm ummm, uhhhhhhh…Since when did tarantulas throw the hairs on their backs? I’ve never heard of that and it doesnt seem to make sense.

“No go away or I shall be forced to throw hair at you a second time!!!”

According to a web page:
. When mildly annoyed,the New World species, such as we are talking about here, will often “throw” urticating hairs by rubbing their abdomen with a back leg.

The word “flick” is also used.

I played with tarantulas when I was a kid. Never had one throw hair at me. Of course I was careful not to piss one off. They’re not very aggressive.
I have watched them do battle with each other, but it was mostly push and shove. No hair throwing.
Maybe you’re referring to those exotic Tibetan Tarantulas. :wink:
I’m with Cisco on this one. Where did you hear such a thing?

Really? Now I’m curious. Could you point me to that page?
As I stated above, I handled these rascals as a kid growing up in Bakersfield, CA, and never observed this behavior. Even when they were migrating and already in a pretty aggravated state.
You learn something every day. :slight_smile:

I saw a very good TV documentary all about a tribe which hunts and eats tarantulas. It is easily one of the most surreal and yet fascinating bits of TV footage I have ever seen.

The problem of the spider shooting out hairs from its body, as a defence mechanism, was mentioned and shown. So it does happen. The doc was not very clear about the precise method, but it didn’t seem like the spider’s legs were involved in a ‘scrape off and aim’ sort of way. It looked more like a contraction of the root of the hair follicle to cause a loose ‘cloud’ of these fine hairs to be showered at the enemy. Seems these hairs are really irritating.

Just in case anyone’s interested…

The whole process was depicted with great clarity. One member of the tribe found a tarantula’s ‘hole’ (or ‘nest’ or whatever) and lured it out by vibrating a piece of vine near the entrance. Once the spider was lured far enough out, he simply reached over the top and pinned it down with one finger, then scooped up the legs one by one until he could lift it up like a parcel on 8 strands. This he wrapped in a nearby leaf which he fastened with the vine. spider still ALIVE all this time. Takes a few of these trussed up tarantulas to join his mates, where they have a nice cooking fire on the go. Unwraps spider 1, kills instantly with a small spike through the head. They believe in killing respectfuly. Then some trimming of the hairs, which they don’t like to eat, and then the spider is put on a flat rock over the fire to cook slowly. Ditto with the other tarants they’ve found. When ready, they eat EVERYTHING except the spider’s fangs, which they are careful to avoid. Then they use the fangs as toothpicks!

Yeah, it does happen. The tarantulas will rub the back of its abdomen rapidly, sometimes with both hind legs, losing lots of hair in the process. You’ve never noticed tarantulas with big bald spots on their backsides? The hairs are an irritant if touched or inhaled, something that the tarantula relies upon to escape larger predators. I doubt you’d see this behavior when two tarantulas are grappling with one another.

I seem to recall reading years ago that they will also sometimes “drop” hair from the underside of their abdomens when running away to deter pursuit. My memory on this is kinda fuzzy, though. Note that the “irritant hair” is characteristic of tarantulas only; as far as I know, other hairy hunting spiders, such as wolf spiders and some jumping spiders, don’t do this.

Yea I’d like to see that website too but let me know if there are any tarantula pics on it because if there are i wont be able to look at it* :frowning:

    • Don’t ask me…I played with tarantulas as a kid too but for some weird reason I can’t even look at pictures of them now without intense chest pain and complete loss of all motor skills. It’s hard for me to even look at the word Tarantula.

I used to keep tarantulas, and they do indeed do this. They flick the hair from their abdomens (I’ve seen them do it) and it is a mild irritant on the skin. As long as you wash your hands after handling them, you’ll be OK. It is a nightmare, apparently, if you get the hairs in your eyes. Luckily it never happened to me.

I’m not aware of them leaving hairs behind as they run off (spider caltraps?!) but that’s not to say they don’t do it.

Here’s a pretty good site, first hit from google.

From frolix8’s link;

Watch out, napster. :slight_smile:
And thanks, frolix8. I feel enriched.