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Isn't it impossible to tame a Tarantula?

Discussion in 'Tarantula Chat' started by MexicanRedKnee, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. MexicanRedKnee

    MexicanRedKnee Arachnopeon

    So I read that thread a few days ago about handling T's and the flame war that ensued. Before anyone bashes me, I'm not here asking if I can hold my T's, I would just like to see what some of the experienced T keepers on here think of what I told a guy at work about tarantulas.
    Basically, he's had a g. rosea for years. I've had tarantulas for a month (15 and counting :) ). Once he learned I was into T's, he came over and talked about his, I told him which species I had and realized this guy probably didn't know much about T's seeing how he didn't recognize some species I had, all of which aren't rare. The issue on handling came up, I said I don't handle any of my T's unless I'm showing off my collection to someone who doesn't know or is afraid of tarantulas just to show them they're not aggressive and out to get you while trying to educate them about Tarantulas. He said he handles his all the time and that it's very tame because of that. I said I don't think you can tame a tarantula because they're just way too primitive and their brain is too small, they're just little bundles of very basic emotions and instinct, no room for training or doing tricks. Then I went on a rant about how handling causes stress and the only reason why the g. rosea is not biting is because it is not as easily stressed as other species, like OBTs, and because its first instinct isn't to bite in self defense, like many OW species will, but it COULD bite at some point regardless of all the handling it has gone through. Our conversation ended with him saying that's my opinion and that I've only had T's for a month. I told him he was right about that. Sometimes at work you have to talk to people you don't really like, just to prevent awkward silence :).

    Anyhow, isn't it true that spiders can't really be tamed like you could a more intelligent animal, and by tamed I mean teaching an animal that you're not a threat, simply because tarantulas can't learn or am I underestimating their brain power? I believe you could try to handle a CB mexican red knee that was born and raised in captivity and stand as much of a chance of getting bit as you would if you went to Mexico and tried to handle a wild one.
  2. Imo maybe even the most agrressive one's some can be held not handled... and one's that you could possibly handle, as long as the person knows what he's doing..... i dont think they can ever be tamed and trained......
  3. Tarantulas run on a hardwired set of preprogrammed responses to either good or bad stimuli, almost like a BIOS chip in their head. They can develop a certain familiarity with consistant stimuli, but there is absolutely no "taming" them.

    My versi was freehandled since the day I got her as a 1/2" sling.....and she still bit me once. I get threat displays out of my frequently freehandled G. rosea. Even my B. smithi has been known to be tempermental on occasion.
  4. MexicanRedKnee

    MexicanRedKnee Arachnopeon

    "They can develop a certain familiarity with consistant stimuli, but there is absolutely no "taming" them."

    Isn't that like saying they can learn, they can be taught, or tamed to an extent?
  5. No....they make the rules and decide on what is "familiar" to them. For most intents and puroses, the attachment in this case would be their enclosure. Anything that disturbs the familiar sanctity of that enclosure causes them stress, and they will be on high-alert regardless of whether or not they make it known to you.

    The trick to freehandling a tarantula is in removing them from that familiar space. When inside their home, they will defend it. Remove them from their territory to defend, and the tarantula takes on a whole new set of behaviors. Thus the rules change, and allow us humans the availability to work with the animal under these new guidelines. Given the proponderance of freehandling videos on YouTube, one would think that just about any tarantula would appear "tame" in the hands of someone who knows their T....even if only by ignorance.

    To put it simply; It is not the tarantula's responsibility to adapt to their keepers, but us keepers who must adapt to the tarantula.
  6. Fasciatum

    Fasciatum Arachnopeon

    I really don't think they can be tamed, and i agree with what xsoyorra says.
  7. DamoK21

    DamoK21 Arachnosquire

    agreed with xsyorra but i must say to some of the hobbyist's out there "WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU IN THIS HOBBY ??"

    yea ok they aint exactly "eine stein" nor are they govner of any country but they are "NOT STUPID" so as for the whole they dont no much or this n that or every "SP" is exactly the same is just saying to me "That Hobbyist Dont No Anything"

    they aint stupid they aint in any way the same as every other allthough they have familiar behavours but dont humans ?? we bath we eat we fight we do alot in common with each other but were all diffrent .... so although i agree with "xsyorra" i simply belive that no 1 in the hobby has the right to "judge" any animal in there care...

    If (i use this word strongly) IF tarantulas are all the same and all become so stressed when handled (which im not denying) then what i would like to no is "How many of you has had a "T" groom them selfs on you ??" coz i have so as for the whole "Is it a bad idea" or "Are they stupid" or "can they be tamed" my answer to that is ...

    Dont judge the animal if the hobby noes nothing about it !!

    and alot of you will disagree i no it but ya no what for those who do ask your selfs this "If we new enough about these animals then WHY on earth cant any 1 recognise there all diffrent there all single living not double and on top of that THEY ARE NOT STUPID !!"

    so id have to say all in all no 1 can give that answer because no one has even attempted to try it although science and so on will say diffrent...

    i saw a post on how T's may actually be able to be tamed all in all it a bit of a proccess but if any one is willing to say a tarantula cant do nothing then ill say this "YOULL BE SUPRISED":wicked:
  8. No they cannot be tamed.

    They do not have the capacity to do so, cognitively speaking.

    I can see this thread is going to end up the exact same as, "Should I hold my T". Expect outrageous claims, falsely drawn conclusions and lots of opinions... Oh geesh.... :wall:
  9. BlackCat

    BlackCat Arachnoknight

    This sums it up, very well said. Going to sig that when I'm not being so lazy! xD
  10. Merfolk

    Merfolk Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Even higher animals kind of "forget" their taming and get violent sometimes. Lower animals can be tamed theoricaly, but will forget way faster!

    When it comes to Ts, the impossibility is easy to explain.

    -Our usual communications channels (sight and hearing) are oblivious to them.
    -Even if they had good sight and hearing, they lack the brain mass to correctly interpret communications from a distance. Their learning abilities rarely go beyond "You can or can't touch/eat it"!

    -Animals that aren't used to parental affection surely don't expect or enjoy it coming from another creature. Taming a cat or else involve playing the surrogate mother and your hand substitutes to mother's grooming tongue. Anything bigger that touches a young T in the wild usually does so to kill it, sometimes even its mother! And their survival instinct is wired accordingly.
    There is nothing in human contact that could remind a T of happy family moments, if they can remind anything. If it's a species that comes from a place where Ts are frequently preyed upon by primates, the quickest to bite any approaching hand is usually the one that transmit its genes! They don't acquire this reflex because the first bite is already to much. They are born with it!

    Imagine being deaf and blind but perfectly able to consume foods or use materials that are in close contact to you...then an invisible giant seizes you and lifts you in the air. You will wanna bite!
  11. aluras

    aluras Arachnobaron Old Timer


    Nope they cannot be tamed, they can get used to a feeding cycle. but thats about it. I do believe that they all have different personalities though. I have had many of the same species act very very different. This is just my experience and opinion

  12. Can someone translate this for me?
  13. Julia

    Julia Arachnobaron

    **pats DamoK21 on the head and smiles** I'm sure you meant to say something here. Want to have another go at it?
  14. Singapore_Blue1

    Singapore_Blue1 Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Handling a T is beneficial for both the owner and the T. Some use the excuse of stress, well its funny I had a successful sac within three days of handling the mother. The T's do become accustomed to being handled and having the owner more hands on actually prevents bites in my opinion. I've handled all of my T's and had no bites in 15 years so I feel my experience backs up my opinion. I've handled T's such as H. lividum, P. regalis, P. metallica, Xenesthis sp. white, P. ultramarinus, P. nigricolor, H. maculata, M. balfouri just to name a few so its not like I'm messing with a Grammostola here. Anyone who says that you shouldn't handle your T's and has never handled one more than a few times really has no ground to make such comments on this subject. They are basing there opinions on science rather than personal experience. Sometimes science has its flaws and at times it overlooks things. A great example would be the discovery of an octopus using tools. Why is this a big deal, well its an invert folks thats why. Look it up online for those who didn't see that on the nightly news. Last I checked that takes a degree of intelligence to aquire such a skill. Prior to the video scientists said that an octopus had no mental ability to do such actions. There is more to these creatures than meets the eye like the octopus and the longer I keep T's the more I learn about them day after day. So to answer the question I don't believe they can be tamed but I do believe they have far more capabilities than we give them credit for having.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. DamoK21

    DamoK21 Arachnosquire


    here ya go point proven well said no one other than this guy here actually see's a point there not dumb animals like alot of you claim there not pathertic either which i seem to see alot of people in the hobby say theres your proof right here youve got a succesful egg sack and a grooming T ... In the proccess of being held !!

    and yet im getting insults but weres your proof ?? weres the proof to state tarantulas cant learn which iv seen they can learn rather quickly if given the chance ....

    alot of you gives these a bad name still and your in this hobby ?? what the hell is the point of it you either care or ya dont and after joining this site iv seen more negative on these beautiful animals than positive ??

    come on guys were all in the same boat so why on earth are you (includeing me) going against others ?? i only go against some one if they go against me other wise ill leave it with a "good stuff" ... the simple fact is others think there better than others i cant stress this enough NO 1 IS BETTER THAN ANY 1 ELSE ...
  16. Mister Internet

    Mister Internet Big Meanie Doo Doo Head :) Arachnosupporter

    Would you mind at least pretending that English isn't your fourth language? :)

    And your statements are just silly... I am better than lots of people. YOU, also, are probably better than lots of other people. Maybe I'm better than you... who knows. Better WITH REGARDS TO WHAT is the question, and here is where "fluffy bunny hobbyists" fall down into a puddle of logical incoherency. Just because you have an opinion on something doesn't make it valid or immune to critique... likewise, just because you do have a valid, thoughtful opinion on something doesn't necessarily make you "better" than someone else in another area.

    I guess what I'm saying is that you need to focus and use words that actually have meaning in the context to which you're trying to apply them. Ranting about how your opinion is immune to critique simply because it happened to pop into your head and yelling at anyone who disagrees with you that "they're not better than you" is a horrible way to go about having a discussion.

    If this turns into another flame war, I'm just locking it. Many of you are completely incapable of having a decent discussion.
  17. While octopi and tarantulas are both inverts, the similarities stop there. I have been witness to the intellectual prowess of a tarantula, particularly arboreals. Especially after chasing a 6" MM P. striata around a naturalistic setup for a half hour. This experience became the reason I no longer glue in decorations unless necessary.

    However, tarantulas do not become accustomed to much more than their homes. I've had my S. cal for a while now.....you'd think if she were accustomed to me as her keeper, she would quit trying to kill me when I change her water. My G. pulchripes goes ape whenever I do maintenance in her cage, and my frequently-freehandled Rosie will turn on me whenever she pleases.

    I wholeheartedly appreciate that you are flying the flag to promote awareness towards new way of thinking on the ever so controversial subject of freehandling. However, it is best to do so wthin the current stream of thought. Promoting the practice as being somehow beneficial for the tarantula is neither within mainstream thought of this hobby, nor even provable due to the lack of knowledge of these creatures.

    Freehandling is a personal choice, and is best left up to the individual keeper to make for themselves and their tarantulas. It does not lessen the risk of bites, the tarantula cannot become accustomed to the practice, and is a risk to the safety of the animal. I have made my choice, and understand these concepts. I do freehandle, and enjoy the practice as it makes me feel closer to my animals.....regardless that the sentiment is not reciprocated.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2010
  18. xhexdx

    xhexdx ArachnoGod Old Timer

    You can pick this whole 'do they tame' and 'should I handle them' discussion apart all you want...it boils down to a set of variables that, when all addressed together, will give you your answer.

    These are the variables I have personally identified as being directly related to handling a spider:

    • Species
    • Size
    • Handler's experience
    • Individual spider's 'mood'

    Some species are generally more likely to bite than others, regardless of the situation. For example, H. maculata is more likely to bite than B. smithi.

    Most (in my experience) slings and even small juvies (say, ~1.5") are more likely to be handled without biting.

    Handler's experience:
    A large portion of bites are also due to the experience (or lack thereof) of the handler. It's good to be able to recognize signs of an irritated spider, and know how to adjust their strategy or methods of handling, moving, rehousing, etc., to compensate.

    Individual spider's 'mood':
    For everyone who can say, "My B. smithi is like a teddy bear!", there's probably one who can say, "My B. smithi is the spawn of Satan!" All the time, people post how they have multiple spiders of the same species, and one is calm, the other is spastic. I've seen threads where people say their spider was docile as could be until it molted, and now it's a demon child.

    My point is this...it's more in-depth than a 'yes' or 'no' answer when asking if a spiders are handleable.

    Then, on top of that, the issue of whether the spiders are stressed or not comes in to play. That's a discussion for another thread.

    I hope this post makes sense.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. Julia

    Julia Arachnobaron

    The proof is in their physical makeup and their genetics. They do not possess brains capable of "learning," as you're trying to imply.

    However, if you feel so strongly, please feel free to teach your tarantulas tricks, record the experience, and post it here for all of us to see. I, for one, would love to see a tarantula "shake" on command. :)
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