Tarantulas can be surprisingly good climbers. They are able to easily scale most vertical surfaces so can climb up walls, trees and so on. However just because tarantulas can climb doesn’t necessarily mean that they will.
Tarantulas are often divided into those that have evolved to live off the ground, and those that spend most of their lives on or under the ground. Those that live off the ground are typically referred to as “arboreal” species. These arboreal tarantulas tend to be particularly adept at climbing.
Climbing Adaptations in Tarantulas
Arboreal tarantulas are particularly well-adapted to climbing. Many show a variety of adaptations to help them climb safely…
Some of the best tarantulas at climbing have reasonably slim, athletic bodies with smaller abdomens than ground-swelling species. This makes it easier for them to move around and places less pressure on the legs to support them.
Many tarantulas that climb for a living have noticeably long, slim legs when compared to burrowing species. These long legs help them to remain flexible and adaptable when climbing about off the ground.
Heavy Silk Production
Even a climbing tarantula needs somewhere to call “home”. If they can’t dig a burrow or hide under a rock then another option is to build a silken web. Here they can hide away from view, avoiding predators during the daylight hours, and giving them somewhere safe to moult or lay eggs.
Where Do Tarantulas Climb?
Climbing tarantulas are most likely to be seen on the trunks of trees, or within homes where they are native. Poecilotheria tarantulas, from the Indian subcontinent, may be observed hiding in tree crevices, and may come out into the open to wait for passing prey items.
In South America, members of the Avicularia genus are often encountered within the leaves of banana plants. They have also been observed within homes, hiving up in the rafters, waiting for moths and other winged prey to pass within pouncing distance.
Is Climbing Dangerous for Tarantulas?
Most tarantulas that have evolved an arboreal lifestyle are strong and powerful climbers, rarely losing their footing at all.
The greatest danger comes from tarantulas that are not arboreal trying to climb.
These are often heavier, chunkier species. If they fall it is possible for their large abdomens to rupture. This, in turn, can lead to an untimely death. As a result, terrestrial tarantulas should generally be dissuaded from climbing for their own good.
Impact for Tarantula Keepers
The fact that tarantulas can climb has an impact on how pet tarantulas should be kept.
Firstly, all tarantulas should have a tight-fitting lid on their cage. This will prevent your pet from climbing up the sides of the cage and escaping.
However also investigate whether any tarantula you are considering is arboreal. If so, you might want to consider adding vertical pieces of cork bark so they can climb more easily, and have places to attach their tube webs too.