This is a question that can elicit many answers, ranging from
“yes, be very careful of insert name of spiders species”
“no, they don’t”.
The classic one in the middle tends to be that there are all these spiders with venom whose mouths or fangs are either too small or not powerful enough to bite humans. So, let’s take a hard look …
The short answer is that close to 90% of the spiders are venomous (they have to be to capture and kill their prey) but very few of them actually bite humans.
In the US, for example, there are only two species that are (a) extremely venomous and (b) aggressive enough that significant numbers of bites are reported every year.
These would be the Brown Recluse Spiders and the Southern Black Widows. Even the latter is sometimes kept as pets – they tend not to bite unless they believe themselves to be harmed or in danger.
The Brown Recluses are often in attics or other out of the way places, but care should be taken around them.
A list of spiders that do not typically bite humans, and therefore make good pets
If you are fearful of spiders, remember one thing – their diet is small insects, and they have very little reason to bite you unless you are literally in the process of destroying their habitat and/or killing them.
They tend to live under logs or floorboards or similarly out of the way spaces and will not bother humans unless provoked to an extreme.
Tarantulas, with their gorgeous colors and silky bodies, are often favorite, so it should not be surprising to find the list chock full of them.
Some of the ones below happen to be less venomous than some of their brethren and are hence popular as pets.
1. Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica)
This is one of the most favorite pets – usually available as a captive breed in store these days. It’s $100+ price is well worth it, according to most pet lovers.
The spectacular sapphire blue body and legs, sometimes with white, grey and yellow streaks, make them a prized possession. Originally found in Southeast India, they were an endangered species in their natural habitat.
Now, they are bred in captivity and sold in pet stores at a premium price. They tend to be large, about 6 to 8 inches in leg span. Females can live for up to 12 years, males around 4 years.
Gootys are photosensitive and tend to scurry about at great speed, and retreat into cover, when startled. They do not have urticating hairs but do have a powerful venom and can bite if startled.
They are better kept under observation than taken out and caressed.
2. Golden Blue Leg Baboon Tarantula (Harpactira pulchripes)
This rare species is also spectacular to look at, with a sharp contrast of blue legs with a golden-brown back and abdomen – with occasional blue streaks of hair. They are endemic to South Africa.
They grow to about a 5 inches leg span. Like Gootys, they do not have urticating hairs. The females live as long as 12 years, males 2-3 years.
Their venom is considerable – but the species has a remarkably relaxed temperament, it can be skittish when disturbed but not often defensive to the point of biting.
One other good thing about the Golden Blue Leg Baboon Tarantula is its tendency to hang out on its web, which gives pet owners a good long look at them in their habitat.
Though rare, they are known to reproduce freely in captivity. All told, these are considered to be excellent pets.
3. Chilean Rose Spider (Grammostola rosea)
Chilean Rose Spiders are known as great starter pets. They come from the deserts and dry grasslands of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina and feed on insects, worms, small lizards and mammals.
They range in color from light gray to a subtle pink or a violent rose color, with hairy legs and a soft, silky body. They have a leg span of 4.5-5.5 inches.
They are solitary animals that can live in a small 5- to 10-gallon tank. They are generally calm and submissive, though they can be moody if provoked – raising their front legs is a sign of an impending attack.
All in all, though, Chilean Rose spiders are a good pet to keep, their venom tends to be mild so even a bite is akin to a bee sting. The females of the species can live up to 20 years, though males typically live 5 years or less.
4. Mexican Redleg Spider (Brachypelma emilia)
Despite their sinister appearance, with dark brown or black bodies and red/brown leg joints, these tarantulas are among the most docile of pets. They have a leg span of 5-6 inches.
Mexican Redlegs, also called Mexican Redknees, rarely bite – which is good, since their bite is venomous and can cause some serious reactions.
They have a reputation for being “friendly”, that is, easy to handle – but you should be careful as with any wild creatures.
It is a quiet pet that doesn’t require a lot of attention. A 5- to 10-gallon tank is sufficient to house them. These animals are long lived. The females of the species can live up to 30 years, though males typically live 5 years or so.
5. Costa Rican Zebra Spider (Aphonopelma seemani)
Costa Rican Zebras are exactly what they sound like, black body, deep red hairs, white streaks on their legs and orange spinnerets. They are native to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In captivity, they make excellent pets if you know what you’re doing – they tend to be skittish in nature, so beginners may find it difficult to deal with them. They grow to a leg span of 4 to 4.5 inches, the females live 15-20 years and males about 5.
This spider rarely bites but can dart away very fast when startled. They do need some care in terms of designing the right habitat, which is another reason for beginners to avoid picking up a Costa Rican Zebra.
6. Goliath Bird-Eating Spider (Theraphosa blondi)
Despite their fearsome fangs, these tarantulas make fabulous pets, with their soft as silk bodies and lustrous golden-brown appearance speckled with white marks.
Despite the fact that they can move extremely fast when needed, and their fangs are capable of inflicting great damage if they do bite, they are in fact very reluctant to do so – they make good pets.
7. Cobalt Blue Tarantula (Hapalopelma libidum)
Cobalt Blue Tarantuals are have distinctive, iridescent blue legs that stand out from a grey, white and black body. They are native to Myanmar and Thailand.
In captivity, they are known to be good pets, in spite of being skittish and having potent venom, being fast and somewhat defensive. They grow to a leg span of 5 inches, the females live 15-20 years and males about 5.
8. Amazon Sapphire Tarantula (Avicularia diversipes)
This species is spectacularly colorful, since the sapphire is interrupted by many other iridescent shades.
The juveniles tend to be even more colorful and less defensive than adults – pet owners will tell you that these spiders are a pleasure to watch grow up.
Their natural habitat in the state of Bahia in Southern Brazil. Adults grow to between 4 and 6 inches of leg span.
The adults tend to be skittish and have a unique defense mechanism where they can launch excrement at distances up to 2-3 feet when threatened.
9. Pumpkin Patch Tarantula (Hapalopus sp. Colombia)
This extremely colorful species will brighten up any collection. The orange and black pumpkin patch colors on the thorax and abdomen give away to reddish pink legs.
The species is native to Colombia. Though small in size (2.5-4 inches, so known as a “dwarf” species) their bright colors stand out.
They are easy pets to care for, and do not have potent venom – plus their fang sizes are small. One must be careful of the urticating hairs, though. The females can live up to 10 years, the males around 3 years.
One other advantage of Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas as pets is that they will survive in very small tanks, 2.5 gallon or below.
10. Greenbottle Blue Tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens)
The greenbottle blue tarantula’s name comes from their coloration – metallic blue legs and blue-green carapace.
Their natural habitat is Paraguay and Venezuela, where they live in a broad habitat, both deserts and grasslands. They tend to be very active and fast growing, making them attractive to hobbyists.
They are not “docile” per se, since they tend to be scoot about at pace, but they are certainly not prone to bite due to defensiveness.
11.Okefenoke Giant Fishing Spider (Dolomedes okefinokensis)
This spider is super aggressive towards prey, but quite comfortable to keep as a pet.
They grow to 4-5 inches in leg span, making them probably the largest true spider in the US (as discussed below, Daddy Longlegs are not really a spider species despite being mistaken for one).
Their legs are very long compared to the rest of their bodies. They are great additions to a terrarium, being easy to observe as they catch fish, walk on water and protect their habitats.
12.Golden Huntsman (Palystes castaneus)
These spiders, fabled for their speed and mode of hunting, are found in arboreal locations – including much of the Americas.
They do make interesting pets, especially given their somewhat unique modes of locomotion – some related Huntsman species will do cartwheels or handsprings.
They are not super aggressive, though females do tend to protect egg caches vigorously. The golden coloration, with black speckled bands on the bodies and legs, give them a distinct look.
13.Jumping Spider (Phidippus regius)
The name of this species translates to “the royal jumper” – which describes this spider’s behavior to a tee.
They tend to be less than 6 inches in legspan. One of the really cool things about having them for a pet is that they can be taught to jump from hand to hand!
They are not very prone to bite or be aggressively defensive. Unfortunately, they don’t live very long – average lifespans are less than a year.
14.Camel Spider (Soligugea so., Galeodes arabs)
These spiders are interesting in a number of ways, including their coloration of golden-yellow – designed to camouflage them against a sandy background. Their leg spans are below 6 inches.
This species is known to seek shade, in the wild, they will hide in the shadow of anything they can find, including humans, to shield them from the desert sun.
Camel spiders tend to live for a year or so in the wild and slightly more in captivity.
This is a species of urban legends – the one about them being venomous but with a mouth too small to bite humans.
The truth needs to be parsed. First, the typical “daddy long leg” is an arachnid but not a spider – it is part of an order called Opilinoids, which is different than the order Aranese that spiders belong to.
There is a species called “daddy longlegs spiders”, which belong to the family Pholcidae.
The first one, the Opilinoids, can bite but are definitely not venomous – they do not have venom sacs even.
The second species, Daddy Longlegs Spiders, probably has some venom (nearly all spiders) to, but they are not known to be majorly harmful to humans – not even close.
So, feel safe to include either type of daddy longlegs as pets if you would like to.
Do Spiders Make Good Pets?
The short answer is “yes, they do”. Pet stores have made a living out of collecting species of spectacularly beautiful spiders that are non-aggressive – with a strong preference on tarantulas.
Why are they good pets? Let us count the ways – spiders don’t require a lot of space, they are solitary animals, so they don’t need a lot of attention, they tend to be super clean and quiet, they are fascinating to observe and very inexpensive to maintain.
Plus, female tarantulas especially are very long lived, often surviving for 20 years or more.
There are some negatives, especially if you will be handling your spider pet regularly.
While most pet spiders are chosen for their calmness or docility, they can be moody at times – and most of them, especially tarantulas, are venomous. Care must also be taken not to drop them – contrary to the Spiderman induced fantasies, spiders can be critically hurt if dropped from even a few feet – if their abdomens burst, they will die.
They also don’t play well with other pets and do have the tendency to escape unless their containers are properly sealed.
Finally, even if their venoms are less potent or they don’t necessarily bite very often, many spiders have urticating hairs, which stick out from their bodies and cause rashes and painful sensations on contact with one’s skin.
In Conclusion ….
The list above should have demonstrated that spiders can make for good pets. While most of them are venomous, they tend to be solitary creatures and (if you choose the right species) not super aggressive.
Tarantulas, and some other species like those mentioned above, can brighten up a terrarium considerably with their presence and personality.
If you are so inclined, go buy a species that is either flamboyant, colorful or interesting – choose one that will live long.
Typically, these quiet, clean, well-organized creatures will provide plenty of satisfaction.
If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:
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