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Can a tarantula get used to being handled?

Discussion in 'Tarantula Chat' started by UralOwl, May 15, 2012.

  1. PeaceBee

    PeaceBee Arachnoknight

    When he mentioned trying to take a nap I assumed someone else was driving. :X
  2. ClaymoreNo47

    ClaymoreNo47 Arachnopeon

    The search feature is for technical questions such as how to take care of X species. There's no such thing as a duplicate discussion of philosophical opinion. This will continue as long as humans exist.

    Lastly i handle all my non agressive T's on a daily basis for 5-10 minutes each depending on how much i love them. My philisophical opinion is that a living creature will allway's let you know if it's uncomfortable, threatened, or otherwise. When it allows you to manipulate it and it does things like lower its body to lay on your hand or even groom its legs then it clearly isn't "stressed" and claiming such is being intellectually dishonest. Obviously if i were to poke at my OBT and it rears and makes alot of fuss, its communicating to me leave him alone. But my sweet Euathlus red literally climbs out of her enclosure by herself onto my hand and allows herself to be handled and manipulated, i just don't feel at all guilty. If she thought i was threatening her she was scurry away and squeeze herself in the nearest hole she can find or simply flick hairs at me and bite me.
  3. BobGrill

    BobGrill Arachnoprince

    Tarantula don't care about anyone's philosophy. They don't like to be held. As I said, they are secretive animals by nature and want nothing more than to be left in peace. Just because they don't instantly react defensively doesn't mean they like it. Also you have to ask yourself "Is it really worth it?" for the safety of your animal.
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  4. Poec54

    Poec54 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    I think Stan's flying solo. Let's hope he pulled over to a rest stop.
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  5. Lucidd

    Lucidd Arachnoknight

    I hesitate posting my opinion here as I certainly do not claim to be an expert in these topics. And I am not a scientist, went quite the other route with a BA. But, I also see life as a perpetual learning process, with no conclusions being ultimate or absolute, so why not share my observations? Take it with a grain of salt if you wish. :)

    This thread is fairly relevant for me, as I am a True Spider collector who took home her first T yesterday. After getting home, I opened the vial to mist the enclosure as well as air it out for a second, and my little friend explored the edges of the vial as I opened it. It ended up crawling on my arm with no provocation on my part, because this was not something I would have encouraged so soon, if at all.

    What I instantly recognized is a strong difference in reactions between my T coming in contact with human flesh compared to my Salticids. Almost all of my Salticids, when initially coming into contact with my hands, quickly backed off. I was patient, and over time they became comfortable with me, to the point that many are eager to explore my hands, and some are even difficult to convince to climb off of me. I have suspected, after witnessing such behaviors, that these creatures are capable of conditioning to some degree. Perhaps first "hand" meant "threat" to them, but having been harmlessly exposed to it at various points builds their confidence for future exposures.

    Now I want to look at flightless fruit flies. I've been feeding these to jumper slings for months, now. It didn't take me long to understand the predictability of their behavior, however, I developed a lot of respect for them after handling them for months. And I have observed what appears to be learning behaviors on their behalf as well. In the instances during feeding time a FFF has broke loose, I have tried several methods to corral them back into sling enclosures. I notice FFFs do not willingly want to climb onto any object that drops in front of them, unless they perceive a threat from behind them. I have begun to wonder, though, if they identify materials with safety. I say this because they are kept in plastic vials, and seem much more willing to climb onto an object that is made of plastic rather than metal forceps, human hands, or even a fabric hair tie (Yes I have tried getting them to climb on whatever was convenient around me at the time!)

    Okay, so back to Ts. Can they get used to being handled? I'm not sure. Do they willingly climb on people? Sometimes. Is there some biological reason a creature would commit to a decision it has every opportunity of backing away from, if that decision causes it irreparable damage and stress? I hope not. It doesn't seem like an evolutionary advantage to me.

    I felt my digression was a tad necessary to solidify the opinions I've formed pertaining to this topic. I don't think there is any "true" answer to the original question on whether or not a T can be used to being handled. At this time, we have no way to properly communicate with other creatures, which gives us limited insight as to what their mental processes are like. I mean, we as humans barely understand each other with all the abilities we have to communicate and express ourselves. So at times I feel a bit surprised to see the confidence of some in knowing what is best for a creature they cannot have a conversation with. I do not say this out of criticism, but as a reminder that a critical part of expertise in any topic is keeping an open mind.

    And when it comes to stress, I think that is kind of an issue of drawing line in the sand. What if you were intelligent enough to understand (even if in fleeting glimpses) that you were being held captive? Just because there is no current evidence that this is the case, does anyone else ever stop to consider what kind of stress that might cause? You can love animals with all your heart and soul and give them the absolute best life they ever could have wanted, but at the end of the day pets are still pretty much someone's property. I don't think we have any clue what any creature is capable of, and if you need examples to know what I am talking about, a quick youtube search on animals showing compassion might suffice.

    Before this is misinterpreted, I have various pets, so I am obviously not trying to make anyone feel badly, and I'm not trying to shame anyone. I just wanted to show why, from my perspective, issues like this are more opinion than fact oriented.
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  6. Poec54

    Poec54 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    When they do, it's NOT because they're looking for a friend or affection. That's the wrong assumption some people make.
  7. McGuiverstein

    McGuiverstein Arachnobaron

    For the love of all that is holy, just agree to disagree people.... How many times does this topic need to get brought up, endlessly argued about (by all of the same people with all the same recycled rhetoric), and eventually dropped because it's a stalemate..? While we're here constantly discussing tarantulas' capacity to learn, our spiders are probably sitting in their enclosures wondering if it's possible for humans to learn to stop arguing the same dumb bull-feces over and over again. Point is, despite the pretentious supposed-omniscience of several users on here, we don't know anything for sure. In the absence of any scientific evidence (for the specific discussions of whether or not handling stresses spiders, if it shortens their life span, ect.), all we have is unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence by a handful of people who aren't really qualified to objectively evaluate what personal experiences they've had anyway. They clearly can't discuss a topic objectively at the very least..

    Rick, you're still shoving your personal views down people's throats. Were you a Roman Catholic in the 13th century in a past life..? Whether or not you deem it necessary or worthwhile for someone to hold their animals is none of your business, and sorry to inform you, out of your control.. Doesn't matter if it's a "freak show" in your view or not.. Sure, some people are stupid about it, and sure, they deserve to be bitten. But whether or not someone holds their spider to be closer to their animal, or to feel a rush is irrelevant. It's their choice. As for your thoughts on spiders' learning, emotions, ect. that you spout off as if it's indisputable fact, see what I said above..

    BobGrill, for someone who is a bleeding heart in nearly every other thread for the injustices of forum etiquette, you're certainly seeming to enjoy throwing your own authority around in this discussion. Where are your reports about the degenerative effects of stress (due to handling) in theraphosids..? When you find them let me know. Until then, your words aren't gospel.. Just because they're solitary creatures in the wild, doesn't mean they'll spontaneously combust if another creature is around..

    Monday is my excuse for this rant..
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  8. Poec54

    Poec54 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    Thanks for staying calm. It always helps to inject a non-emotional view into the proceedings. I too often find that the best way to diffuse a situation is by losing my temper. Works like a charm.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  9. Lucidd

    Lucidd Arachnoknight

    I certainly wasn't trying to imply that they were looking for affection, and I totally agree with you that that is the wrong way to look at such behavior. The next sentence I said after that quote was to clarify that by crawling onto a person, I don't think a creature would willingly put itself into a situation that causes it stress. That doesn't mean it's ready to cuddle in my eyes. :)
  10. McGuiverstein

    McGuiverstein Arachnobaron

    I hadn't lost my temper, that was just my less passive alter ego coming out. In retrospect, it could have been toned down a little, but the combination of me typing fast, and still being stuck in my I hate mornings/Mondays mentality made me a little too frank.

    Dont get me wrong, while I may disagree with you and your methods on occasion, I still have much respect for you, your experience, and your contributions to the hobby.
  11. goodoldneon

    goodoldneon Arachnoknight

    I’ll offer this brief experience. When I acquired my sub-adult A. metallica I held her almost every day, at times, for upwards of an hour. The first two or three times I held her she repeatedly jumped from my hand (onto a bed) and launched feces at me. Over time, she calmed down considerably. She would allow me to hold and manipulate her without attempting to escape or rub urticating hairs. This went on for close to a year. As is the case with many tarantula owners, over time, the novelty of holding and interacting with a tarantula diminished. Six months later, after very little to no contact, she reverted to being very skittish when held. She began to jump and spray feces again. Once again, after a few days of limited interaction, she settled down and allowed me to hold her as before.

    Take from that what you will.
  12. Handling opinions aside, I would lose it if a tarantula cuddled in my eyes. :eek:
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2013
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  13. Poec54

    Poec54 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    What about inside your shirt, or inside a pant leg? It's happened to me with Poecs during cage transfers.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2013
  14. I have a Sheltie who thinks she wants to drive, but she can't reach the pedals.

    You should also read this Snopes paper.

    Don't wake me now. I'm enjoying an 8-legged nightmare!
  15. Lucidd

    Lucidd Arachnoknight

    Well my jumpers do have a fascination with wanting to jump in my face....
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2013
  16. I would draw your attention to the case of the wolf. Given the choice, virtually every wolf on this planet will do almost anything to avoid humans. (But see this very interesting article.) But at some point some human or hominid apparently managed to capture or otherwise acquire some wolf pups, and was (amazingly enough!) able to not only keep them more or less safely, but train them, and selectively breed them. The end results are the many dozens of domestic dog breeds that we have today. And in fact, many anthropologists and sociologists have credited these wonderful, domesticated wolves with supplying the seed that made human civilization possible. (See Why We Owe Our Civilization to the Dog and Hounds and Civilization.) In short, there is a credible argument that without the wolf/dog companion/herder/fellow hunter/pet domestication project by early humans, we might still be merely rare, hunter/gatherer, great apes living in Africa and southern Asia, roughly comparable to gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans.

    Much the same story with minor variations and outcomes (but probably without so large an affect on civilization) can also be retold about virtually every other domestic animal we have and use, e.g., cattle, horses, sheep, chickens, peafowl, canaries, parakeets, rats, mice, chinchillas, hamsters, a growing list of snakes and lizards, and many, many more. Even African lions and Bengal tigers! (I'm not so sure about house cats. They may have domesticated US instead!)

    In each of these cases, each domesticated animal now far outnumbers it's wild predecessor, and in several cases is the sole survivor of the species, the wild individuals now having gone extinct. And, each of those domesticated animals now occupies a geographic range far greater than the original predecessor. Thus, each kind of domesticated animal may be considered to have ridden on the coattails of humans to become much more successful in domestication than would ever have been possible in strictly wild conditions.

    I submit the hypotheses that mankind's association with the tarantula (defined as a a group of over 900 different species of spiders, not as a single kind of organism) just began during the middle of the 20th century, that its eventual outcome has not yet been determined and it is far too early for us to even imagine what it may be. But whatever it is, it's going to be interesting, if not downright wonderful.

    And, if we had followed the naysayers advice of NOT domesticating wolves because "it's NOT because they're looking for a friend or affection", we still might very likely be half starving, disease ridden, potential entrées for the major carnivores of the African savannah or Asian Steppes. And all those other animals we've domesticated along the way would have vastly different, and usually much less successful histories.

    No wild animal on this planet WANTS to be touched by the hand of man. But, once we get hold of them, those that will accept some level of domestication invariably experience an almost astronomical increase in both numbers and geographic range.

    No. I don't buy the "don't touch the wild animal because it's not in their Karma" argument. There's too much to be gained by forging ahead with such a project. And in view of the current, ongoing Great Extinction too much to be lost forever.


    Before you start strutting around too boldly consider this -

    Spiders have been around for several HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS, and number in the several tens of thousands of different species.

    And tarantulas, numbering well over 900 species, have been around for many TENS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS.

    By contrast, the hominids (the human family tree) have only been around perhaps 5 MILLION YEARS, and there's only one (1) species left...

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
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  17. NGLepine

    NGLepine Arachnosquire

    This got entertaining fast!!! :)

    Ill go with.... They don't want to be handled, and take one out for educational purposes when educating someone who may be interested!!

    Carry on.... I'm loving this!!!!
  18. Batu

    Batu Arachnopeon

    I have always wondered about people cuddling/petting/holding their Ts.

    Who is this for? The T? Hardly! No Tarantula sees it's "owner" and wishes (like a puppy) to be held. It sees you, and wants you to simply leave it the hell alone. Perhaps it would appreciate throwing a
    juice bug in the cage or some water. But never for you to hold it. You never hear of reefers needing "cuddle time" with their fish. Why? The damn fish don't want it any more than the Ts.

    If YOU (note, not the T) "need cuddle time", for whatever reason, to show off, emotionally "bond" with your T, to "prove you can" and/or get views on you tube, IMO you need to rethink owning Ts.

    Go cuddle with your dog, cat wife or kids.

    Just say'n.
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  19. McGuiverstein

    McGuiverstein Arachnobaron

    I have a cat, but it's a boy, and I'm not married to it.. Not really into the whole bestiality scene personally.. ;)
  20. Poec54

    Poec54 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    Stan, are you suggesting that tarantulas are in the process of being domesticated? Not sure how the wolf example fits, but there is no other animal that understands humans anywhere near the extent that dogs do. 15,000-30,000 years of bonding with an intelligent, social animal has produced our best and most loyal friend in the animal kingdom. They have willing faced death and died to save people. What's happened to the numerous pets you listed (parakeets, snakes, hamsters, etc) is people selectively breeding them for a few characteristics, usually color and markings, but the emotional bond with humans isn't anything like it is with dogs. They're 'domestic' in the sense that they don't occur in the wild, but most have little if any loyalty to us. I don't see that happening with tarantulas either, even given hundreds of thousands of years. I see some of your point, which is valid, but I think you were wandering around in left field on this one when you tried to make the connection to spiders, old boy.
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