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Tarantulas are large, hairy spiders often feared because of their body size and appearance. However, only a few South American species can inflict a harmful bite. The bite of most species in the United States amounts to little more than a bee sting and occur rarely when the spider feels threatened.

Tarantulas are large, and can be up to 5 inches across in body size. They have incredibly hairy bodies and come in a variety of shades of colour, mostly greys and browns to black. Tarantula hairs are easily rubbed off their bodies and are coarse so often irritating to human skin. If a tarantula is cornered, it may make a purring noise or rear up on its back legs. Most of the time though, they are sluggish spiders and only bite on rare occasions when they feel threatened. It has become increasingly acceptable to have these furry spiders as pets, much like the family dog. However, tarantulas have a longer life as a domestic pet many times living up to 20 human years in captivity.

Tarantulas are nocturnal creatures. During the day the seek out dark cavities or areas where they can burrow in until evening. At night they emerge to hunt and feed. You may note tarantula infestations outside in garden areas or occasionally indoors. More often than not if the spider gets indoors you will see one or a pair rather than a large infestation. Females can live as domesticated pets for up to 20 years, but males have a shorter lifespan in captivity. As mentioned above, bites are rare and usually not more painful or harmless than a bee sting. However, if you develop any other signs of illness or the rare severe reaction some South American species can inflict, consult a physician immediately.

There are two ways to keep tarantulas from coming indoors. On is to control spiders with a 5-foot band of diazinon sprayed around the perimeter of the home. The second is to dust a 2-foot band of chlorypyrifos containing insecticide around the foundation of the home. If a spider enters the home, you can capture it in a jar or box and release it away from the home in a secluded area. Be sure to wear long rubber gloves and other protective clothing. When dealing with a tarantula, you should always avoid quick, sudden or jerky movements as these are most likely to get you bit.