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10 Myths About Spiders

        Animals | Arachnids

4
Tarantula Venom Will Kill You
When we think of scary, unsightly spiders, we often think of the tarantula. Turns out these big boys don't actually pack that much of a punch in their bites. Tom Brakefield/Getty Images
When we think of scary, unsightly spiders, we often think of the tarantula. Turns out these big boys don't actually pack that much of a punch in their bites. Tom Brakefield/Getty Images

Tarantulas get a bad rap. Sure, you wouldn't want to wake up with one of these bad boys crawling around in your sleeping bag, but their hairy bodies and long, gangly legs make one of the best-known spiders look more vicious than they actually are. If you get bitten by a tarantula it's probably going to hurt a little bit and might make those allergic to the venom slightly uncomfortable, but that's about it.

Tarantula venom isn't considered dangerous, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can, however, cause a variety of allergic reactions. That includes itchiness, redness and puffiness around the eyes, swelling of the lips and throat and — in extreme cases — cardiovascular collapse. For most folks, the venom packs less of a punch than a typical bee sting [source: National Geographic].

Although these spiders feed at night, outdoor campers can rest easy. Tarantulas feast on insects and as well as mice, frogs and even some birds. But not people. They use claws to grab their food and the venom to paralyze the prey before chow time. Tarantulas secrete enzymes which allow them to dissolve their prey's bodies before sucking them in [source: National Geographic].


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