If your tarantula has escaped and you’re wondering if it can climb up walls then you’ve come to the right place.
The answer to this question is quite simple if we split tarantulas into two distinct groups; the arboreal tarantulas that live in trees, and ground dwelling or burrowing tarantulas.
Some arboreal tarantulas are able to climb up walls, however most terrestrial tarantulas are too bulky to successfully climb them.
Arboreal Vs Terrestrial Tarantulas
Arboreal tarantulas are so-called because they climb trees and spend most of their lives off the ground. They may spin luxurious silken retreats way up in the tree canopy, or may use tree holes or pieces of loose bark to hide away in.
Such tarantulas tend to be excellent climbers for obvious reasons. They’re also quite “slight” in appearance, often having relatively small abdomens and long, thin legs.
Due to the lifestyle they have developed, arboreal tarantulas are quite capable of scaling the walls in your home. It is not unusual for an escaped arboreal tarantula to make it to your ceiling, so it may be necessary to stand on a chair or ladder in order to reach them.
Examples of arboreal tarantulas include:
- Pink Toes – the Avicularia genus.
- Martinique Pink Toe – Caribena veriscolor
- Psalmoeous tarantulas – such as the Venezuelan Suntiger (P. irminia), Trinidad Chevron (P. cambridgei) and Costa Rica Orange Mouth (P. reduncas).
- Indian Ornamentals – the Poecilotheria genus.
Should one of these spiders get out they are highly likely to seek refuge off the ground. So look on walls, around the ceiling, or behind pieces of furniture where they may have found a resting place some distance from the ground.
Terrestrial tarantulas, on the whole, are chunkier, heavier and more thick-set. While they may successfully climb up the sides of their tank from time-to-time, they’re unlikely to fully scale the walls of your house. They’re simply too heavy for this to be an easy task.
Furthermore, whether such tarantulas normally dig a burrow, or go hide under a log or a rock, their “default” answer to safety is trying to find somewhere down low to hide. An escaped terrestrial tarantula is most likely to be found on, or close to, the ground. For example they may scurry under a low piece of furniture to feel safe.
An example of this would be a King Baboon juvenile (Pelinobius muticus) that managed to get out in my spider room some years back. Knowing it was a terrestrial species I started the hunt around the floor, and sure enough found the spider in one corner of the room, at floor level, hiding under a low bookshelf.
Examples of these heavier tarantulas that won’t normally climb walls include:
- Brachypelma genus – Mexican Red Knees, Mexican Red Leg and so on.
- Grammostola genus – Brazilian Blacks, Chacho Golden Knee etc
- Lasiodora genus – Salmon Pinks and their cousins.
Can Tarantulas Climb Plastic?
While only a small proportion of tarantula can climb walls, most tarantulas are able to climb up the sides of a plastic tank. The specific lifestyle of the tarantula really doesn’t matter.
Even a heavy Brachypelma hamorii that has fed recently will be more than able to scale the sides of a plastic vivarium. This is one reason why ensuring all your tarantula cages have a tight-fitting lid is absolutely crucial.
Can Tarantulas Climb Glass?
Most tarantulas can also easily climb glass.
While terrestrial tarantulas are most likely to spend the majority of their time at ground level – or even below it in burrowing species – they may still be seen climbing the glass walls of their terrarium.
Unfortunately, this can have serious implications for the care of such tarantulas. A heavy tarantula not adapted for life off the ground can easily be harmed if it falls from even a modest height. The reality is that the abdomen of a tarantula is soft, sensitive and quite heavy. A fall can rupture this part of a tarantulas’ body, leading to an untimely death.
A result of this is that many keepers of terrestrial tarantulas like to keep them in reasonably low cages. In this way, should your tarantula try to climb the walls, and then fall off in the process, they won’t fall far enough to do themselves any real damage.
Can Tarantula Climb the Side of a Bath?
For some reason it seems there is a myth that tarantulas cannot climb up the sides of a bathtub.
For this reason, many people like to rehouse faster or more aggressive species in their bath, safe in the knowledge that the tarantula is unable to scale the vertical sides.
However, this is largely not the case.
Many tarantulas are able to climb even the shiny enamel sides of a bath.
This is especially so for smaller tarantulas, which naturally therefore weigh less than a big, chunky old female Brachypelma.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t do rehouses in your bathtub. Even to this day I still actually use this technique myself. But don’t assume that a tarantula in a bath can’t climb out. Doing it in the bath simply means you have more time to react before they reach freedom.