The Chilean Rose Tarantula is considered to be a calm and docile species of tarantula to keep as a domestic pet, however caution should still be taken when handling, they will bite if threatened or flick prickly barbed hairs as a defence mechanisum.
A 29 year old owner of a Chilean Rose tarantula found out first hand when cleaning the glass tank (terrarium) of his pet. His tarantula rubbed its hind legs against its abdomen to dislodge a mist of hairs into the air which hit the owner’s eyes.
Signs and symptoms reported by Dr Zia Carrium of St James University Hospital in Leeds included a red, watery and light sensitive eye. The barbed hairs were too fine to remove using mirco-forceps, in addition to this, the hairs had advanced through to the innermost endothelia layer, causing inflammation of the Cornea and anterior chamber, consequently a regime of intensive topical steroids were applied.
The Chilean Rose tarantula is one of the most commonly imported tarantulas however there are only a few cases reported of this inflammatory reaction termed ophthalmia Nodosa. Tarantula keepers should routinely wear eye protection when handling these animals to avoid potential incidents like this case.