Judging a T's mood by touching it's abdomen/back legs - why?

Bugmom

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but tarantulas don't see 360 degrees around them. So why do people touch them on the back legs or abdomen as some sort of "mood/temperate test," when they can't see it coming? Why would touching anything somewhere that it can't see indicate anything other than reaction to unexpected stimulus?
 

Moonohol

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Your logic is solid, and I think it's a good question. From my experience, it seems to me that touching a T from the front is much more likely to evoke an attack response whereas touching them on the hind legs/opisthosoma is typically a good way to get them to scoot. Why exactly that is, I dunno. I just go with the strategy that seems more reliable, really. If they jet when I touch their back legs then I'll normally just leave them be.
 

Andy00

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They feel it with their hairs and their reaction time is a lot faster than ours. Usually they'll turn around because they think it's food but sometimes they'll turn around and bite whatever you touch them with. Sometimes they'll go into threat pose if they're in a bad mood/a defensive T. If they're really "docile" they won't move or they'll just walk away slowly. This either means they're in premolt and lack a feeding response or they're just a "nice" tarantula :)
 

Venom1080

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well, i doubt they can see the brush if you try to tap them in the front. they mainly depend on their sense of touch to feel the world around them. i think the reaction would be the same.
 

Bugmom

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They feel it with their hairs and their reaction time is a lot faster than ours. Usually they'll turn around because they think it's food but sometimes they'll turn around and bite whatever you touch them with. Sometimes they'll go into threat pose if they're in a bad mood/a defensive T. If they're really "docile" they won't move or they'll just walk away slowly. This either means they're in premolt and lack a feeding response or they're just a "nice" tarantula :)
There are no "nice" tarantulas though. They're animals that react based on instinct. They don't have "bad moods," they don't get tamer, they don't learn to trust you, etc. They tolerate us humans, and that tolerance varies from individual to individual, day to day, even hour to hour. Touching them is going to evoke a response, usually some sort of defensive response, and like all animals, that response is going to be fight, flee, or freeze.

I'm just wondering if touching them from behind is the best way to test which reaction you're going to get, since they have no way to see it coming. I'm unsure of how well their eyesight actually is though, and if it matters.

This came about after watching a video posted in another thread where a girl was showing how her tarantulas were defensive after she touched them on the back end with a paintbrush. A lot of people want to handle their tarantula, and will touch them on the back leg to "test their mood," but I wonder if that is really a good judge of anything except whether your spider is going to fight, flee, or freeze when encountering an unknown stimulus. It's certainly not a good way to determine if you should handle it at that moment or not - the "docile" tarantula that doesn't fight or flee may be the very tarantula that bites you 5 minutes later because you decided it was in a "good mood."
 

viper69

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but tarantulas don't see 360 degrees around them. So why do people touch them on the back legs or abdomen as some sort of "mood/temperate test," when they can't see it coming? Why would touching anything somewhere that it can't see indicate anything other than reaction to unexpected stimulus?
Ts don't use vision as their primary sense to learn about their world as humans and other animals do. There is no scanning the horizon nor immediate vicinity for prey/predators. They use their sense of touch to learn about their world.

Touching one on their back legs is generally likely to evoke a defensive response or a move in a different direction, usually forward.

Touching one on the front legs can evoke the same response as above (different direction), a thread posture, or even an attack. After all, a stimulus at the front is a direct threat to many animals brains/heads etc.

However, make no mistake they are lightning fast as you know. I've seen my AF smithi move a full 360 degrees faster than I could blink due to a stimulus detected behind her.

All things being equal, I'd rather touch a T from the rear than the front as I'm further from its fangs. I'm pretty sure that's why most people do it.
 
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viper69

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I'm unsure of how well their eyesight actually is though, and if it matters.
Extremely poor. There are a lot of things during husbandry I have done that doesn't get their attention that is merely an inch away from them. But the moment I touch their sub near them or far at times, they are clearly on alert for some. Others, like my G. pulchripes and GBB actively move toward the disturbance letting their front legs move in a manner that is clearly used in a sensory method, ie not a simple walking motion.
 

Bugmom

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Extremely poor. There are a lot of things during husbandry I have done that doesn't get their attention that is merely an inch away from them. But the moment I touch their sub near them or far at times, they are clearly on alert for some. Others, like my G. pulchripes and GBB actively move toward the disturbance letting their front legs move in a manner that is clearly used in a sensory method, ie not a simple walking motion.
Makes sense. I'm probably looking at this with my human bias. I can see well, so I can see things coming, but if you were standing an inch behind me, I might not know it. Then again, I'm - thankfully! - not covered in setae!
 

gypsy cola

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I think I know what video you are talking about. Is it the one about rose hair's not being good first T's?

Stroking the back legs for me is test how coercive these T's are for whatever manipulation I need. Usually I am pushing a T towards a container so stimulating the rear seems the best course of action. I think there is lower chance of the T running up a brush if I stroke from back but I have nothing to back up that claim.
 

Andy00

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There are no "nice" tarantulas though. They're animals that react based on instinct. They don't have "bad moods," they don't get tamer, they don't learn to trust you, etc. They tolerate us humans, and that tolerance varies from individual to individual, day to day, even hour to hour. Touching them is going to evoke a response, usually some sort of defensive response, and like all animals, that response is going to be fight, flee, or freeze.

I'm just wondering if touching them from behind is the best way to test which reaction you're going to get, since they have no way to see it coming. I'm unsure of how well their eyesight actually is though, and if it matters.

This came about after watching a video posted in another thread where a girl was showing how her tarantulas were defensive after she touched them on the back end with a paintbrush. A lot of people want to handle their tarantula, and will touch them on the back leg to "test their mood," but I wonder if that is really a good judge of anything except whether your spider is going to fight, flee, or freeze when encountering an unknown stimulus. It's certainly not a good way to determine if you should handle it at that moment or not - the "docile" tarantula that doesn't fight or flee may be the very tarantula that bites you 5 minutes later because you decided it was in a "good mood."
Yep that's why I used the quotation marks haha
 

Vanessa

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Their eyesight is very poor. They are flight animals first and foremost. Testing them from the back end will determine if they feel like fleeing or standing their ground. Flight is the less defensive reaction. They might feel cornered if you approach from the front and be more likely to stand their ground than try to flee.
They aren't the only animals who react that way - plenty of wild animals do.
 

BorisTheSpider

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Why would touching anything somewhere that it can't see indicate anything other than reaction to unexpected stimulus?
To be honest touching it somewhere it can see isn't a good idea either . The safest bet is to assume that they all bite since they all do . It's just that some of them will put up with more pestering from their owners then others will . If people wouldn't insist on playing with their Ts like furry little toys then there would be a whole lot fewer bites . I have said it before and I'll say it again , they are look at pets . I understand that basic maintenance does require going into their enclosures from time to time . A good pair of tongs or locking clamps will make the process much safer for the owner and his/her T .
 

Bugmom

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To be honest touching it somewhere it can see isn't a good idea either . The safest bet is to assume that they all bite since they all do . It's just that some of them will put up with more pestering from their owners then others will . If people wouldn't insist on playing with their Ts like furry little toys then there would be a whole lot fewer bites . I have said it before and I'll say it again , they are look at pets . I understand that basic maintenance does require going into their enclosures from time to time . A good pair of tongs or locking clamps will make the process much safer for the owner and his/her T .
Humans have this intrinsic desire to touch things, to care for things, etc. And for the most part, the pets we have, we can pet. We can love on them, we can hold them, and they respond to us. So we want to apply that desire to all our pets, but I don't think people truly understand the nature of some of the animals they keep, such as inverts and reptiles.

If more people understood that your tarantula is an arachnid that is barely different than a tick, they might get that tarantulas aren't interested in humans in the slightest.
 

Jeff23

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To be honest touching it somewhere it can see isn't a good idea either . The safest bet is to assume that they all bite since they all do . It's just that some of them will put up with more pestering from their owners then others will . If people wouldn't insist on playing with their Ts like furry little toys then there would be a whole lot fewer bites . I have said it before and I'll say it again , they are look at pets . I understand that basic maintenance does require going into their enclosures from time to time . A good pair of tongs or locking clamps will make the process much safer for the owner and his/her T .
^^^^^ This is what I try to do. I don't have the large number of adult T's like most of us, but I try to never touch mine or make it move if possible. I also have no T's that are considered anything different from docile or skittish except for my H. Gigas which is still a sling. One of my Tapi. Gigas and Avic Diversipes tried to bite a paint brush during rehousing when I received them new and didn't know how to rehouse very well (and they are considered as skittish instead of aggressively defensive. I was touching the back leg in both cases.
 

mistertim

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The only time I do that is rehousing to move them into a transfer cup if need be and it obviously isn't to gauge their mood...just to get their lazy asses moving in the desired direction. I pretty much always assume their "mood" is "Please do not bother me, giant frightening creature".
 

cold blood

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In 16 years I have yet to poke or prod a t anywhere to determine anything...why? I don't handle. Handling is the only real reason for temperament testing IMO.

A better test would be to squirt water from a syringe near them, if they are hungry, they will attack the stream.
 

Andrea82

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Maybe people touch them at the back because they 'reason' that the spider is going to want to be away from a stimulus from behind, and will walk away from it, going forward.
Faulty reason though, I've seen some just turning around in no time to face the threat.
 

mistertim

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In 16 years I have yet to poke or prod a t anywhere to determine anything...why? I don't handle. Handling is the only real reason for temperament testing IMO.

A better test would be to squirt water from a syringe near them, if they are hungry, they will attack the stream.
I do the same thing. Though my P. sazimai will still attack her water dish if she's close to it while I'm refilling it and it is splashing even if she's in premolt and not eating. But that's just because she gets SUPER grumpy during premolt...more so than any of my other spiders.
 

Blue Jaye

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I prefer to touch the substrate with paintbrush or tongs. Less chance of startling the t. No real reason to poke at a t unless you need it to move for a rehouse. Touching something isn't really the best way to gage temperament. People will walk up to my bird when she's on me and try to either touch her beak or touch her tail. Neither are good options. And neither will tell you anything about her temperament. Look at it this way. Your sitting naked in your room feeling comfy and calm. Suddenly your roof gets pulled back and something huge is poking you to see if your cool. How would you react?? But if someone knocked on the door and alerted you to their presence first you are more likely to be tolerant of their presence.
 
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