Tarantula's and spider's hygiene

Eli02

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My brother has been going around talking about how spiders and tarantulas (like mine) are the dirtiest "bugs" on earth because they never clean themselves. I don't think this is true because I'm pretty sure I've seen several of my tarantulas clean themselves. However i can't seem to find much on it research wise and was wondering about your guy's thoughts on the matter were.
 

Rob1985

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I pulled this from Quora which was an answer the question of why insects and spiders groom themselves.

"Interestingly, in at least some species, the frequency of grooming is independent of the cleanliness of the environment. The insect doesn't necessarily groom itself because it feels dirty. It grooms "just in case".

Insect grooming behavior serves a wide range of purposes, including:
  • Removing pathogens and parasites, and debris that could serve as a breeding-ground for pathogens
  • Redistributing surface chemicals such as antimicrobial chemicals
  • Cleaning olfactory sensory pores on antennae [1]
  • Preventing respiratory spiracles becoming clogged
  • Possibly most importantly, removing debris from sensory hairs, which are critical for all insects to sense surrounding objects, their own location and even the relative position of their body parts. For example, some insects, such as praying mantises, sense the location of their head using sensory input from long bristles on their shoulders. This seems odd to us as we have well integrated proprioception (sense of where our body parts are relative to one another) but is important for insects.[2]
 

Venom1080

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They groom themselves quite often. They're actually pretty clean creatures.
 

Jeff23

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Since I don't handle my T's I am not worried too much about this kind of thing. I attempt to keep my enclosures clean as an outdoor natural forest with no human created nasty stuff because that is much worse.

I pulled this from Quora which was an answer the question of why insects and spiders groom themselves.

"Interestingly, in at least some species, the frequency of grooming is independent of the cleanliness of the environment. The insect doesn't necessarily groom itself because it feels dirty. It grooms "just in case".

Insect grooming behavior serves a wide range of purposes, including:
  • Removing pathogens and parasites, and debris that could serve as a breeding-ground for pathogens
  • Redistributing surface chemicals such as antimicrobial chemicals
  • Cleaning olfactory sensory pores on antennae [1]
  • Preventing respiratory spiracles becoming clogged
  • Possibly most importantly, removing debris from sensory hairs, which are critical for all insects to sense surrounding objects, their own location and even the relative position of their body parts. For example, some insects, such as praying mantises, sense the location of their head using sensory input from long bristles on their shoulders. This seems odd to us as we have well integrated proprioception (sense of where our body parts are relative to one another) but is important for insects.[2]
Good info - makes sense.
 

viper69

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My brother has been going around talking about how spiders and tarantulas (like mine) are the dirtiest "bugs" on earth because they never clean themselves. I don't think this is true because I'm pretty sure I've seen several of my tarantulas clean themselves. However i can't seem to find much on it research wise and was wondering about your guy's thoughts on the matter were.
Humans are far dirtier than tarantulas.
 

Bugmom

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I'd let my tarantulas walk over food I was going to eat before I'd let any other insect on the same food.

Well, not ones with urticating hairs, but that's because no one wants to eat nature's equivalent of fiberglass :rofl:
 

CWilson1351

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My brother has been going around talking about how spiders and tarantulas (like mine) are the dirtiest "bugs" on earth because they never clean themselves. I don't think this is true because I'm pretty sure I've seen several of my tarantulas clean themselves. However i can't seem to find much on it research wise and was wondering about your guy's thoughts on the matter were.
I have 3 geckos, 2 snakes, a cat, and 3 kids. My 7 Ts are by far the least messy of all. Even my arboreal species that like to leave their "mess" on the walls are cleaner than the cat and Leopard geckos :D Not going to get into how messy kids are
 

nicodimus22

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I've seen my Ts grooming, and they do tend to take out the bolus and deposit it neatly in the corner of the enclosure, so they seem to be fairly tidy animals.

However, thinking on a practical level, their fangs do extend into the guts of the prey items they kill, and are covered in bacteria from that. Even if they groom, I don't think there is any way for them to completely clean the fangs of bacteria, so if they ever bite you, it's not likely to be very clean in that puncture wound.

If there is a natural process that I'm unaware of that tarantulas use to sterilize the fangs, please let me know. I can't imagine how doing that would help them survive/hunt/reproduce any better, but who knows...
 
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Jeff23

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I've seen my Ts grooming, and they do tend to take out the bolus and deposit it neatly in the corner of the enclosure, so they seem to be fairly tidy animals.

However, thinking on a practical level, their fangs do extend into the guts of the prey items they kill, and are covered in bacteria from that. Even if they groom, I don't think there is any way for them to completely clean the fangs of bacteria, so if they ever bite you, it's not likely to be very clean in that puncture wound.

If there is a natural process that I'm unaware of that tarantulas use to sterilize the fangs, please let me know. I can't imagine how doing that would help them survive/hunt/reproduce any better, but who knows...
I agree in principal with what you are saying, but if we look at the sense in which humans versus tarantulas (in the wild) live, I would rate the wild tarantula as a cleaner creature.

Every day people touch loads of objects that other humans touch then go eat lunch at a restaurant without even washing their hands. Why are the restrooms in restaurants usually fairly empty? It is also said that a cotton swab from the mouth of a person will provide a huge number of different types of bacteria.

If we help our tarantulas out by keeping out the black flies and other critters that are capable of carrying bacteria from your toilet or trash can to the substrate much of this bacteria will mostly be the same type you find in a natural landscape. This also overflows into how we take care of our feeders (crickets and roaches). In the wild these creatures probably won't be packed together living similar to an egg crate hotel with a water dish that depends on a human doing the maintenance.
 

nicodimus22

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I agree in principal with what you are saying, but if we look at the sense in which humans versus tarantulas (in the wild) live, I would rate the wild tarantula as a cleaner creature.
Overall? Sure. I'm talking about cleanliness in terms of a bite given to a human. In that scenario, they jam their fangs directly into our flesh, breaking the skin. In that case, bacteria are more of a concern, even if Ts are overall cleaner animals.
 

Jeff23

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Overall? Sure. I'm talking about cleanliness in terms of a bite given to a human. In that scenario, they jam their fangs directly into our flesh, breaking the skin. In that case, bacteria are more of a concern, even if Ts are overall cleaner animals.
But that is true of any animal / insect. Even if your neighbor's dog bites you and breaks skin you will get bacteria that might not be so friendly to your system. Mosquitoes are the human killer that succeeds at this because they have wings and can come into contact with numerous victims which ups the odds that something nasty might be present when they bite you. Tarantulas eat less often.
 

nicodimus22

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But that is true of any animal / insect. Even if your neighbor's dog bites you and breaks skin you will get bacteria that might not be so friendly to your system. Mosquitoes are the human killer that succeeds at this because they have wings and can come into contact with numerous victims which ups the odds that something nasty might be present when they bite you. Tarantulas eat less often.
I thought the reason mosquitos were killers was because they carried nasty viruses in the blood that they sucked, and gave you a free transfusion of it whenever they bit you. But sure, anything that breaks the skin could be dangerous to us. I guess it's a matter of comparing what kind of bacteria each animal usually carries on the part that goes into the wound. Is the bacteria on a dog's tooth more or less dangerous than the bacteria on a tarantula's fang, for example?
 
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MetalMan2004

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They definitely clean themselves plenty. Does that mean they are clean? I don't know. Mine tend to keep their trash in one corner for me to clean out instead of throwing it all over the place. Bacteria-wise they are no filthier than any other pet.

 

nicodimus22

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Bacteria-wise they are no filthier than any other pet.
Most other pets are not burying teeth/fangs into the guts of other live animals, are they? Dogs are eating dog food carefully processed in a plant, not taking down cows in a field. It seems at least plausible to me that live food could mean a different kind of bacteria. Not sure anyone would ever bother to test this, though. There's no money in the answer.
 
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Jeff23

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I thought the reason mosquitos were killers were because they carried nasty viruses in the blood that they sucked, and gave you a free transfusion of it whenever they bit you. But sure, anything that breaks the skin could be dangerous to us. I guess it's a matter of comparing what kind of bacteria each animal usually carries on the part that goes into the wound. Is the bacteria on a dog's tooth more or less dangerous than the bacteria on a tarantula's fang, for example?
You are right that the primary bad stuff from the mosquito is from their blood though there probably are bacteria as well.
 

Jeff23

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Most other pets are not burying teeth/fangs into the guts of other live animals, are they? Dogs are eating dog food carefully processed in a plant, not taking down cows in a field. It seems at least plausible to me that live food could mean a different kind of bacteria.
My folks have a cat that gets more wild birds for food than it does cat food. But it doesn't help that a bird bath is in their yard making them a perfect target.
 

MetalMan2004

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Most other pets are not burying teeth/fangs into the guts of other live animals, are they? Dogs are eating dog food carefully processed in a plant, not taking down cows in a field. It seems at least plausible to me that live food could mean a different kind of bacteria. Not sure anyone would ever bother to test this, though. There's no money in the answer.
Dogs eat their own poo. I rest my case.
 

nicodimus22

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Dogs eat their own poo. I rest my case.
It's not quite that simple. There are tons of different species of insects and other T prey items. Each species could have different bacteria in its poo and hemolymph than there is in dog poo. Lots of variables, and no real incentive for scientists to study them comparatively, although it is interesting to think about.
 

MetalMan2004

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It's not quite that simple. There are tons of different species of insects and other T prey items. Each species could have different bacteria in its poo and hemolymph than there is in dog poo. Lots of variables, and no real incentive for scientists to study them comparatively, although it is interesting to think about.
Your original point was that dogs may be cleaner because they eat processed food and not wild prey. I'm simply pointing out that they also eat their own poo and lick their butts. If you think that makes them cleaner animals than Ts thats fine by me :)
 
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