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Tarantula Defends Territory Against Owner; Owner Almost Blinded Answered

Got a pet tarantula? Better protect your eyes


Fri Jan 1, 2010 10:53am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Here's some advice stemming from the unusual case of a man who had spider hairs stuck in his cornea: Be sure to cover your eyes when hanging around with your pet tarantula.

Ophthalmologists at St. James's University Hospital in Leeds, England, used high magnification lenses to find out what made the man's eye red, watery and light-sensitive, according to a study reported in the British medical journal The Lancet on Thursday.

They discovered hair-like projections stuck in the man's cornea.

It was a light bulb moment for the patient, who remembered that three weeks earlier he had been cleaning a stubborn stain on the glass tank of his pet, a Chilean Rose tarantula.

"He sensed movement in the terrarium. He turned his head and found that the tarantula, which was in close proximity, had released 'a mist of hairs' which hit his eyes and face," the doctors wrote.

They said the man's condition was rare.

The authors noted that the Chilean Rose tarantula releases the barbed hair on the back of its body to defend against predators.

"We suggest that tarantula keepers be advised to routinely wear eye protection when handling these animals," the doctors said.


Ok, so he might not have been blinded, but in theory, he could have developed a horrible infection that could have blinded him.  I'm listing tarantulas next to porcupines as pets to not own.

Image Credit:  David Thorne



I agree about trannies and as for Porkies if you get in a fight...They always win on points.

"I'm listing tarantulas next to porcupines as pets to not own."

Or you could just buy a pair of swim goggles.  They might release barbed hairs, but they sure are cuddly!

Yay for tarantulas!! (and venomous desert snakes!)

thats very sad (in a pathetic sort of way). And porcupines shouldn't be pets for the same reason u wouldn't keep an ant-eater as a pet- not because of the spikes.

well....a general rule of thumb would be that any animal that you don't fully understand, or know all there is to know about shouldn't be kept as a pet

the hair thing a KNOWN defense mechanism in some tarantulas (and it actually can make you go blind...the barbed hairs work like porcupine quills in that, the longer they sit in your tissue the further in they burrow, so those hairs eventually would have ended up INSIDE the guy's eye and possibly in the retina)...if you aren't aware of that fact, then you shouldn't own a tarantula

i had a friend in high school that had a tarantula as a pet, he got bit and his hand swelled up to 3 times normal, his response "i had no idea these things were poisonous"....duh

It is also a rule of thumb that you shouldn't act like an expert on an animal that you don't fully understand.

This man's case was a 1 in a million chance. How many people who don't even own dogs are attacked by dogs annually?

Tarantulas are not only very safe to keep, but make interesting pets.

Tarantula's are venomous, however there has never been a death from a tarantula bite.

As far as the urticating hairs are concerned it is the consensus of most of the tarantula community not to handle tarantulas as it is dangerous for the tarantula. Simply put, proper precautions can prevent hairs getting in the eyes. These hairs will only get in your eyes if you get them on your hand and rub them there, or have the tarantula in your face. The tarantula can only kick the hairs 2-5" from their abdomen.

i don't think i acted like an expert at all...and i don't think i once suggested that NO ONE should own a tarantula...

i simply stated that if you DON'T know enough about an animal you shouldn't bring it into your home.

the same goes for dogs, if you don't know how to train a pit bull, you shouldn't own one, period.

tarantulas, snakes, black widdows, gophers, any animal (within reason) can all be WONDERFUL pets, as long as you take the time to learn about them and make sure that you're educated enough to take care of them without hurting yourself or the animal.

i also never claimed that anyone has died from a trantula bite(though, some people have, but they were highly allergic and didn't seek medical attention).

if you're going to try to correct someone please read what they actually said, and not what you wanted to read.

First: no one has ever died from a tarantula bite. Period. This includes allergic reactions (however there is some debate regarding whether or not people can be allergic to tarantula venom). If you want to make that claim show some proof of a recorded death by a tarantula bite. There aren't any. The one (unsubstantiated) claim of a death by a tarantula bite was a 10 year old in India who was bitten by a Haplopelma sp. on the neck, she died from swelling (from the bite, not a reaction) that closed her airway.

Second: A quote from you:
"I'm listing tarantulas next to porcupines as pets to not own."
Implying that they don't make good pets.
"the hair thing a KNOWN defense mechanism in some tarantulas"
Implying animals with "KNOWN" defense mechanism make bad pets, hence my remark about dogs.
"his response "i had no idea these things were poisonous"....duh"
Once again implying tarantulas make bad pets and are dangerous.

I was not attempting to correct you so much as show the facts about tarantulas and their ownership. My first remark was sarcastic, however the tone of your comment, especially your comments about urticating hairs, shows your lack of knowledge about tarantulas and further reinforces my point: don't give advice about things you know little about while trying to play the expert.

I'm not bashing you, or trying to make you seem stupid, but try to do some research before posting things that make tarantulas seem like dangerous pets (your comments, not the article).

I keep over 40 Tarantulas and I have NEVER been bitten, despite keeping many aggressive species such as Haplopelma and Poecilotheria. I also own many new world hair kickers such L. parahybana (my profile pic), N. chromatus, and B. boehmei and have never gotten hairs anywhere but my arms even though I handle them and clean their tanks regularly.

"I'm listing tarantulas next to porcupines as pets to not own."

if you can show me where i said that. anywhere, i'll give you $500 cash

"the hair thing a KNOWN defense mechanism in some tarantulas"
Implying animals with "KNOWN" defense mechanism make bad pets, hence my remark about dogs.

no, i'm implying that anyone who doesn't take the time to educate themselves about the animals that they choose to have as pets A) shouldn't have said animals as pets and B) deserve what they get when something bad happens because of their own stupidity. if you're not willing to educate yourself about ANY animal (from a hamster to a great white shark) then you should not be allowed to interact with said animal. pet stores SHOULD NOT be selling pets without giving a "safety and care" course to the person wanting to buy the animal. (which i still disagree with buying any animal as if it were a comoddity) the  animal shelter that i get my pets from does this when you adopt a pet, you've got to watch a video or take a class tailored to the animal you're wanting to adopt. if you're adopting a dog you have to watch a video that explains the proper care for a dog, and how not to get bitten by a frightened dog, the cat video demonstrates the danger of toxoplasmosis if you don't change the litter, the rabit video tells you not to pick them up by the ears, and you've got to take a 2 week course before you can adopt a pit bull.

"his response "i had no idea these things were poisonous"....duh"
Once again implying tarantulas make bad pets and are dangerous.

again your powers of perception are off...i never once said NO ONE should have a tarantula, i was illustrating a point that someone who isn't educated about the animal, shouldn't have the animal in their home. ANYTHING is dangerous in the hands of someone that's not educated enough to have it. if you don't know that a fork is pointy on one end and can go into your eye, then you shouldn't be allowed to use a fork. it's the same thing, if you're too stupid to know that a tarantula (most) is poisonous then you probably shouldn't have one as a pet.

now i'll wait and see how you choose to misread my post and i hope the insanity is more entertaining this time.


8 years ago

This is just another reason why I don't stomp animals, a club is much safer ;->

 I like to be more creative


What a "hair raising" experience !

Got a mention in the first issue this year of New Scientist.


Interesting stuff, I didn't know that. "We" have a fairly close relationship with Leeds Teaching NHS, "we" take consultants from them, but charge-back for other services.