12 Difference Between Tarantula and Spider

Tarantulas are a type of spider, but are somewhat different from most spiders. Tarantulas and spiders exhibit variations in behavior, body structure, habitat preferences, hunting techniques, and even their venomous capacities. Let us look at the difference between them.


A spider is a type of arachnid that belongs to the class Arachnida and the order Araneae. Spiders have inhabited the Earth for millions of years and are found everywhere across the globe. There are over 48,000 species known to science. They are of different sizes, from tiny species with body lengths of a few millimeters to larger ones with leg spans exceeding 4 inches. They also can be in different patterns and colors (Velvet, red, white, purple, yellow etc).

Spiders have two main body parts: the cephalothorax and the abdomen. The cephalothorax, also known as the prosoma, is the fused head and thorax region. The abdomen, also called the opisthosoma, is the posterior body segment where vital organs, silk-producing glands, and the spinnerets (structures that produce and manipulate silk) are located. In general, they have eight legs.

Spiders inhabit every terrestrial habitat on Earth. They can be found in forests, grasslands, deserts, caves, urban areas and even inside homes.

All spiders have ability to produce silk which they use for building webs for trapping prey, creating retreats and constructing egg sacs.

Spiders have a complex reproductive process. Males often court females through various behaviors, including elaborate dances or vibrations on the female’s web. Once mating occurs, the female produces an egg sac that contains numerous eggs. Spiderlings hatch from the eggs and undergo several molts as they grow.

Spiders feed on insects and other small arthropods. Some species employ the use of webs to capture the prey. Other spiders are active hunters, stalking their prey and ambushing them.

Many spider species possess venom glands and fangs, which they use for defense and subduing prey. While some spiders have venom that is harmless or mildly irritating to humans, others, such as black widows or certain recluse spiders, can deliver venom that is potentially dangerous.


Tarantula comprise a group of large and often hairy spiders. As of August 2022, 1040 species have been identified. Tarantulas give some people the creeps because of their large, hairy bodies and legs. But these spiders are harmless to humans (except for a painful bite) and their mild venom is weaker than a common bee.

Tarantulas can be relatively small or large in size with leg spans exceeding 4 inches. They have eight legs and two body parts: the cephalothorax (head and thorax fused together) and the abdomen. They are covered in dense, bristly hairs called setae, which makes them look to fuzzy or hairy. The color can be brown, black, gray and even bright hues such as blue, purple or red.

They are found in different places around the world like deserts, rainforests, grasslands and mountains. In their habitat, they dwell in underground burrows or rock crevices as their homes. They too shed their exoskeleton to grow.

Tarantulas are solitary creatures. They are docile in nature, although some species can exhibit defensive behaviors when threatened. They are usually most active during the night. They are ambush predators and their diet mainly consists of insects and small arthropods. Some larger species feed on small vertebrates like lizards or mice.

When a tarantula feels threatened, it tries to defend itself in the following ways. First, it may display a threat posture, lifting their front legs and exposing their fangs. They can release fine, barbed hairs from their abdomen called urticating hairs. These hairs can cause irritation and discomfort to potential predators or humans.

Females generally live longer than males. Some can live for several decades, with reports of some species reaching ages of up to 20 years. Males have shorter lifespans, from a few months to a few years. Some nature enthusiasts keep Tarantulas with bright colors as exotic pets.

So, where is the main difference?

Tarantulas are indeed spiders. They belong to the same class and order as other spiders, which is Arachnida and Araneae, respectively.

The key difference lies in the family to which tarantulas belong. Tarantulas are a specific family of spiders called Theraphosidae. This family consists a group of large, hairy spiders. While tarantulas are indeed spiders, not all spiders belong to the family Theraphosidae. In other words, all tarantulas are spiders but not all spiders are tarantulas.

Also Read: Different Types of White Spiders

Other Differences

  1. Size: Tarantulas are larger than many other spiders, with some species reaching sizes of up to 6 inches in leg span.
  2. Appearance: Tarantulas have a robust body structure with a hairy appearance, while other spiders may have more diverse body shapes and may not be as hairy.
  3. Venom: Tarantulas possess venom, but most species have venom that is relatively harmless to humans. Other spiders may have venom that is more potent and poses a greater risk to humans.
  4. Habitat: Tarantulas are commonly found in warm, tropical regions and can be easily seen in burrows or underground. Other spider species can be found in many habitats including tundra.
  5. Behavior: Tarantulas are generally considered to be less aggressive than some other spider species. They may exhibit defensive behaviors when threatened, such as kicking urticating hairs or biting, but they are not usually quick to bite.
  6. Silk production: Tarantulas produce silk, which they use to construct burrows and create retreats. Other spider species may have different uses for their silk, such as building webs for prey capture.
  7. Lifespan: Tarantulas tend to have longer lifespans compared to many other spiders. Some tarantulas can live for several years or even decades.
  8. Leg span: Tarantulas generally have longer legs in proportion to their body size compared to some other spiders.
  9. Mating rituals: Tarantulas engage in elaborate courtship rituals before mating, which can involve drumming on the ground or vibrating their bodies. Other spider species may have different mating behaviors.
  10. Leg span: Tarantulas generally have longer legs in proportion to their body size compared to some other spiders.
  11. Defensive mechanisms: Tarantulas have specialized urticating hairs on their abdomens, which they can flick off when threatened. These hairs can cause irritation and discomfort to predators or humans. Other spiders may not possess this defensive mechanism.
  12. Popular perception: Tarantulas are often considered iconic and are more commonly recognized by the general public compared to other spider species. They are sometimes kept as pets, whereas other spider species may not be as popular in the pet trade.

Also Read: Different Types of Purple Spiders

Tarantula vs Spider: Difference In Tabular Form

Basis of ComparisonTarantulaSpider
Order AraneaeAraneae
Known species900 species48000 species
SizeFrom 1 inch to 5 inches (13 centimeters)From a few millimeters to a few centimeters.
AppearanceHairyNot hairy
SpinneretsTarantulas have 2 or 4 spinnerets (silk exuding tube-like structures).Spiders have 6 spinnerets.
VenomHarmless to humansMight be potentially harmless
WebsTarantulas make webs for carpeting of the floor of the nest and make hammock-like bedding for resting.Spiders make webs as a trap to capture prey.
HabitatWarm, tropical regionsEvery habitat including tundra.
BehaviorLess aggressive than some other spider species.Some species are more aggressive.
Do they produce Silk?  YESYES
LifespanHave longer lifespans compared to many other spiders.They have comparable shorter lifespan.
LegsHave longer legs.Have relatively shorter legs.
Pet tradeThey are popular in the pet trade.Not common in pet trade.

Leave a Comment