Tarantula VS Wolf Spider

Have you ever confused a wolf spider with a tarantula or the other way around? Tarantulas and wolf spiders are two distinct spider species. However, there are some similarities between the two. Hence the confusion. In this article, we will be exploring everything to know about a Tarantula VS Wolf Spider.

Tarantula VS Wolf Spider

What is a Tarantula?

Tarantulas are the world’s biggest spiders and have fascinating traits. They measure 1 to 4 inches in body length and can have leg spans up to a foot long. Despite their intimidating looks, they live quite long, with females lasting up to 30 years and males around 10. Their dark brown bodies and legs, covered in reddish hairs, make them stand out.

In the U.S., they mainly live in the southern and southwestern states, sometimes venturing as far as Utah. They hide in underground burrows during the day and come out at night or during mating season. While it’s uncommon to find them in homes, some people keep them as pets due to their captivating nature.

What is a Wolf Spider?

The wolf spider (Hogna aspersa) is a large hunting spider distinguished by its striped, hairy body, reaching lengths of up to 2 inches. Found abundantly across various states in the United States, over 125 species have been identified by scientists. While not aggressive or venomous, their bite can be harmful, warranting caution when encountering them. Wolf spiders prefer solitary living and hunting, displaying a behavior reminiscent of wolves as they chase down their prey.


Tarantula VS Wolf Spider: The Similarities

As stated, tarantulas and wolf spiders tend to be confused for each other. Most often it is because of how they look, but they also have their share of similarities:


Tarantulas and wolf spiders can look alike, but their colors help tell them apart. Tarantulas are usually dark brown or black, while wolf spiders are lighter brown with possible black stripes. This difference matters because wolf spiders have patterns that tarantulas don’t. However, it can also cause confusion with other spiders like hobo spiders.


Tarantulas and wolf spiders both like somewhat dry places, but they live in different environments. Wolf spiders can be found in rainforests and dense areas, while tarantulas prefer dry spots like deserts and grasslands. Despite these differences, they both like to nest in similar places such as trees, rocks, and holes in the ground, which helps them blend in. This hiding strategy works well for the wolf spider, which waits to surprise its prey.


When it comes to speed, both tarantulas and wolf spiders can move swiftly, but wolf spiders are known to be slightly faster, earning them the moniker “the wolf” for their agility in hunting. Tarantulas, while not as quick, can still move rapidly when necessary, especially when capturing escaped prey or evading danger. While wolf spiders utilize their speed frequently in hunting, tarantulas tend to reserve their bursts of speed for specific situations.

Tarantula VS Wolf Spider: The Differences

As different types of spiders, tarantulas and wolf spiders have a list of traits that make them distinct from each other. From looks to habits, many traits differentiate the two:


A key distinction between tarantulas and wolf spiders lies in their hairiness. Tarantulas boast dense and thick hairs covering their bodies, while wolf spiders generally lack such dense hair. These hairs serve a practical purpose for tarantulas, aiding in detecting movement around them, crucial for survival and enhancing their hunting prowess by helping them sense potential prey.


Another way to tell tarantulas and wolf spiders apart is to check their eyes. Wolf spiders have big, noticeable eyes, while tarantulas’ eyes are small and often hidden by hairs. Tarantulas use their hairs more than their eyes to sense things around them, which helps them catch flying bugs. But wolf spiders depend on their sharp eyesight to hunt and catch prey more easily.


Wolf spiders and tarantulas differ in their patterns. Wolf spiders often have markings on their bodies, like a dark stripe down their back, while tarantulas usually don’t. However, tarantulas might have patterns on their legs. People should be cautious about assuming harmful spiders based on appearance, as location plays a big role in species distribution.

Fang Position

Fang position is another prominent way to tell wolf spiders and tarantulas apart. Wolf spiders have fangs like pincers that face forward, while tarantulas have downward-facing fangs. If the fangs look like they could pinch, it’s probably a wolf spider. But if they seem like they could stab downward, it might be a tarantula.

Number of Tarsal Claws

A significant difference between wolf spiders and tarantulas is the number of claws on their legs. Wolf spiders have three claws, while tarantulas have two. These claws help them walk and climb to catch prey. Although checking claws is usually a last resort for identification, it’s still a key feature. When telling them apart, it’s crucial to consider other traits like size, color, hair, and patterns, which give a clearer picture of the spider’s species.

tarantula or wolf spider


In conclusion, wolf spiders and tarantula spiders hold a resemblance but have their unique traits. Despite both being arachnids, wolf spiders are smaller and more predatory, while tarantula spiders are larger and can live longer. Furthermore, wolf spiders contribute positively by controlling pest populations, whereas tarantula spiders can occasionally be harmful. Generally, there is a lot to learn about spiders and each species have their specific traits that differentiate each other.

Tarantula VS Wolf Spider FAQs

Can wolf spiders and tarantulas peacefully coexist with humans?

Yes, wolf spiders and tarantulas can live harmoniously with humans as long as they are not disturbed. Respecting these creatures and understanding their ecological importance is key.

Can wolf spiders and tarantulas be kept as pets?

Tarantulas are commonly kept as pets because of their calm demeanor and easy care. However, wolf spiders are not typically kept as pets due to their more active and predatory behavior.

How can I prevent wolf spiders and tarantulas from entering my home?

To prevent these spiders from entering your home, seal any openings in doors, windows, and walls. Keeping your home clean and clutter-free also discourages them from making a habitat indoors.

What should I do if I find a wolf spider or tarantula in my home?

If you encounter one, it’s best to leave it be and let it move on its own. If uncomfortable, gently capture it with a cup and paper and release it outside.

Do wolf spiders and tarantulas exhibit unique behaviors?

Yes, wolf spiders display maternal care by carrying their egg sacs, while tarantulas are skilled burrowers, creating intricate tunnels for shelter and ambushing prey.

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