Old World VS New World Tarantulas

Old World VS New World Tarantulas

Are you aware that there are two types of tarantulas? While there are a variety of tarantula species, many of them fall under two categories. These categories are old world and new world tarantulas. In this article, we will guide you through everything to know about Old World VS New World Tarantulas.

Old World VS New World Tarantulas

History Behind the Terms

The terms “Old World” and “New World” originated in the late 15th century alongside the rise of European exploration, notably with Christopher Columbus’ voyages. After Columbus returned to Spain, heralded as the discoverer of the New World, published works solidified this designation. Europeans adopted these terms to distinguish between the continents they were discovering.

As exploration expanded into Africa and Asia, the term “Old World” emerged in contrast to the newly discovered territories. Despite Australia’s recognition in the early 17th century, it does not fit neatly into either category. However, some enthusiasts classify it as Old World due to similarities in its fauna with Africa.

What is an Old World Spider?

Old World tarantulas are species of tarantulas residing in the Eastern hemisphere, comprising Asia, Europe, and Africa. While belonging to the same spider family as New World tarantulas, they evolved differently. Known for their speed and aggressiveness, they are less favored as pets compared to their New World counterparts. Handling Old World tarantulas requires carefulness and experience due to the dangers they pose.

What is a New World Spider?

New World tarantulas are types of tarantulas found in North and South America, known as the “New World”. These tarantulas live in areas like North, Central, and South America, existing before Columbus arrived. While they’re similar to Old World tarantulas, New World tarantulas evolved differently, adapting to their environments. This led to unique species with differences from Old World tarantulas, despite sharing a common ancestor.

old world tarantulas

Old World VS New World Tarantulas: The Differences

There is a selection of traits that differentiate old world tarantulas from new world tarantulas. Some of the most prominent factors that differentiate the two are as follows:

Speed and Aggression

Old World and New World tarantulas vary a lot in how fast and aggressive they are, which is important for tarantula fans. Old World ones move quickly and may bite if they feel threatened, even during simple tasks like refilling water. New World tarantulas, however, are slower and calmer, making them better for beginners or people who want a pet they can handle. Knowing these differences can help people choose the right tarantula for them and enjoy taking care of it.

Urticating Hairs/Defense

New World and Old World tarantulas use different ways to defend themselves. New World ones have special hairs they can shoot from their backs to irritate predators, causing itchiness or a rash. It’s smart to see a doctor if you get these hairs on you, especially if you breathe them in, as they can cause severe reactions. On the other hand, Old World tarantulas mainly rely on biting with their fangs and venom. Despite their different defenses, both types usually only cause mild problems if they come into contact with humans.


Worrying about a tarantula bite usually ends up being less concerning than expected. Tarantula venom, though it can be harmful, rarely causes serious harm to people, and there have been no reports of it being deadly. While a bite can be really painful, serious problems are rare, although allergies or infections might mean a trip to the doctor.

If a New World tarantula bites you, it might feel like getting stung by a bee, causing pain and soreness afterward. Both New World and Old World tarantulas might bite, but the latter, which are more defensive, pose a higher risk. Though we don’t know much about the venom of Old World tarantulas, it seems to be strong, sometimes leading to hospital visits after a bite.

new world tarantulas

Old World VS New World Tarantulas: Caring for Them

Just as various factors differentiate old world and new world spiders, there are differences in caring for the two categories of spiders:

Food: Tarantulas from both the Old World and New World have similar dietary requirements, primarily consisting of insects. Common food options include crickets, roaches, waxworms, and occasionally fruits. Smaller species typically require one to two crickets weekly, while larger ones may consume up to six.

Housing: Both Old World and New World tarantulas require similar housing setups. Enclosures should be approximately four times longer and wider than the tarantula’s fully extended leg span. However, specific terrarium designs may vary based on whether the tarantula is terrestrial or arboreal, with different preferences for burrowing or climbing.

Handling: Handling differs significantly between Old World and New World tarantulas. New World species are generally docile and can be handled with care, although minimal handling is preferred. In contrast, Old World tarantulas are more delicate and less tolerant of handling. Attempting to handle them may provoke aggression or lead to escape due to their swift movements.

Old World VS New World Tarantulas: Which is a Better Pet?

Deciding between an Old World or New World tarantula as a pet depends on your experience. Experienced owners might choose Old World species for their interesting colors and behaviors, but beginners are better off with New World tarantulas because they’re easier to care for and less likely to be aggressive or bite. Both types of tarantulas are intriguing pets for enthusiasts.


To conclude, old world and new world tarantulas have small but distinct differences. If you are interested in having a tarantula as a pet, it is advised to get a new world tarantula first if you are a beginner. When it comes to handling either tarantula category, old world tarantulas need careful handling and are better suited for veterans. Either way, there is a lot to learn about tarantulas, and noting the different types and species is one way to better understand them.

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