A tarantula is a hairy spider that is part of the arachnid family, which also includes mites, ticks, and scorpions. Tarantulas are found all over the world and can grow up to 5 inches long, but those found in the United States are usually about 2 to 3 inches long (about the length of a crayon).
Tarantulas can be black, brown, gray, or even brightly colored. Most people are afraid of tarantulas because they are so large and weird-looking, but the truth is that these spiders are not dangerous. They live in nests in the ground and are pretty timid, avoiding people whenever they can.
If a person gets bitten by a tarantula, the bite will probably feel a lot like a bee sting, with pain in the area of the bite. It will look like a bee sting, too, with redness and some swelling.
Because the tarantula's venom (poison) is weak, it's unusual to have more severe reactions involving other parts of the body.
If you think you've been bitten by a tarantula, wash the bite with soap and water. If the bite hurts a lot, you can ask an adult for some pain medication. Placing an ice pack on the bite can also help.
Allergic reactions to a tarantula's bite are unusual. But just like some people have allergic reactions to bee stings (like trouble breathing or feeling sick), some people may have allergic reactions to tarantula bites. If a doctor suspects that someone is allergic to a tarantula bite, he or she will treat the person with medicine to fight this reaction.
If you come across a tarantula, don't bother it or try to play with it. These spiders will not bite you unless they feel threatened — if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: April 2013
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