Pet Tarantula – Hazardous to Eyes


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.

Tony (SelectSpecs)

Tony is the resident optician at, you'll normally find him blogging about eye health and sharing his general optical knowledge.

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