Old World vs New World Tarantulas (Key Differences)

Old world tarantulas come from the Eastern hemisphere (Africa, Asia, Europe), while new world tarantulas live in North and South America (the New World).

Old-world tarantulas are more aggressive than new-world tarantulas and also have fewer hairs, but there are other key differences between them, too.

Old World vs New World Tarantulas

Because of these characteristics, new-world tarantulas are often preferred to old-world tarantulas as pets. New-world tarantulas are easier to keep and are not as aggressive as old-world tarantulas.

What are New World Tarantulas?

New-world tarantulas are tarantula species that live in North and South America – also known as the “New World”.

The term “new world” stems from the 15th century when Christopher Columbus discovered North America. He called it the “New World” because by then, that part of the world has not been discovered yet.

New-world tarantulas are thus species that live in the new world, which means on continents like North, Central, and South America.

These tarantulas have lived on these continents well before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. While they do share many similarities with old-world tarantulas, their evolution has undertaken a different path.

This led to the creation of slightly different spider species. They both have the same ancestor, but the new-world tarantulas adapted to their surroundings, which led to many differences between new-world and old-world tarantulas.

Some of the most well-known new-world tarantula species include:

  • Brachypelma Hamorii
  • Grammostola Rosea
  • Avicularia avicularia
  • Grammostola pulchra

What are Old-World Tarantulas?

Old-world tarantulas are tarantula species that live in the Eastern hemisphere, a.k.a. the “old world”. This includes Asia, Europe, and Africa.

These spiders developed differently from the new-world tarantulas, but they belong to the same family of spiders. They’re faster and more aggressive than new-world tarantulas, which makes them less desirable as pets.

Despite that, many people still choose to own these animals as pets. They’re better for more experienced pet owners because they can be a bit more demanding, and they require more care as well.

These are some of the most well-known old-world tarantulas:

  • Pterinochilus murinus
  • Psalmopoeus irminia
  • Tapinauchenius gigas
  • Eucratoscelus pachypus

What are the Differences?

1. Old-World Tarantulas are More Aggressive

One of the main differences here is that old-world tarantulas can be a bit more aggressive than their new-world counterparts.

They’re very defensive, which means they won’t attack you whenever they feel like it. Instead, they don’t like to be handled as often, so they will often turn defensive and run away.

If they feel like they have no other choice, they will also attack you. Their bite can be quite painful, so it’s recommended that you don’t handle them that often. It’s also best if you have some experience with tarantulas if you want to own an old-world species.

2. Old-World Spiders have More Venom

Another key difference is that new-world tarantulas tend to be more mellow, while the old-world tarantulas have much more potent venom.

While there have not been many studies yet on this topic, many tarantula owners will tell you just how painful their bite can be.

So much so that it can lead to hospitalization if you’re not careful. Muscle spasms and cramps are common, as is nausea and lightheadedness. Sometimes, it will resolve on its own, but some cases also need medical help.

Read More: Can You De-Fang a Tarantula?

3. New-World Spiders have More Hairs

One of the main differences between old-world and new-world tarantulas is that new-world species have many more hairs than old-world species.

These hairs are called urticating hairs, and they play several important roles for the new-world species. The most important role is self-defence where tarantulas can use them to defend themselves from potential predators. These hairs can hurt their attackers significantly, so you should be wary of handling these hairs too much.

Additionally, these hairs play a crucial part in the tarantula’s understanding of the world. They give the tarantula a clear idea of what is around them, as they act as another sense that a tarantula can use for its survival.

Old-world tarantulas don’t have as many hairs as new-world species, and they’re also not as long. This means they have to rely on other defensive mechanisms to survive.

4. Old-World Species are Faster

One of the more important survival methods of the old-world tarantulas is their agility. They’re some of the fastest spider species around, as they will use their speed to outrun their attackers.

They’re known for dashing around the area, where they will outrun their attackers and also their prey if needed. Sometimes, they’re faster than the eyes, so it might be hard to spot them when they’re running.

New-world spiders are much slower and in that respect, easier to control. This is also one of the reasons why new-world tarantulas are recommended for beginners.

Old-world tarantulas require a bit more space and more freedom to roam around, while new-world tarantulas are happy to live inside a more enclosed space.

Related: How Fast can a Tarantula Run?

Which one is a Better Pet?

This will mainly depend on your experience with tarantulas; if you’re an experienced owner of tarantulas, then you can try getting an old-world species. However, if you’re a beginner, new-world tarantulas are much better for you.

Both have their charms, though. Some old-world species are magical in their appearance, as they combine some interesting colors and patterns, as well as behaviors. They have more of an edge in their character.

New-world tarantulas are much easier to keep, though. They’re not as aggressive nor are they likely to bite you, which is the case with old-world species. This means they’re better for beginners.

Buying a Tarantula

When you buy a tarantula, whether it’s old world or new world, make sure it’s been bred in captivity.

Some species of tarantula are extremely rare. Buying rare tarantula that have been taken from the wild can further endanger species already threatened with extinction.

You can also make sure you get a tarantula that is one of the most docile tarantula species, while avoiding the most venomous tarantulas.

You would also need to do your research into how to keep it, including what sort of cage you need, safety precautions, climate control requirements, and knowing what to feed tarantulas.


If you’re looking for a new tarantula, then you might be deciding which to pick: an old-world species or a new-world species.

The answer will depend on your experience with tarantulas. Both are great, but you’d want to do some research as to which spider species will suit your situation best. Usually, beginners prefer new world tarantulas that are less venomous and less aggressive. However, old world tarantulas are prized because many of them are rare and beautiful colors.

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