Can you eat tarantula raw?

Eating tarantulas raw is generally not recommended. While tarantulas are edible, they may pose some health risks if eaten raw and proper preparation is advised. However, some cultures around the world do consume raw tarantulas as part of tradition or as a delicacy.

Can you eat a tarantula raw?

Yes, it is technically possible to eat a tarantula raw. Some cultures around the world such as in Cambodia, Venezuela, and Mexico consume raw tarantulas as part of tradition or as a novelty food. However, most experts advise against eating raw tarantulas due to potential health risks.

Is it safe to eat raw tarantula?

Eating raw tarantula carries some potential health risks and is generally not considered safe. Some of the main risks of eating raw tarantula include:

  • Food poisoning – Tarantulas may harbor Salmonella and other bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.
  • Parasites – Tarantulas may contain parasites like tapeworms that can infect humans when eaten raw.
  • Allergies – Some people may have allergic reactions from exposure to tarantula proteins when eaten raw.
  • Toxins – Tarantula species from South America may contain toxins that are not destroyed unless cooked.

To reduce these risks, thorough cooking of tarantulas to an internal temperature of 165°F is recommended to kill potential parasites, bacteria and inactivate toxins.

What are the benefits of eating tarantulas raw?

There are very few proven benefits to eating tarantulas raw. Some claimed benefits include:

  • Novelty – For some cultures, eating raw tarantulas is seen as an exotic delicacy.
  • Tradition – Consuming raw tarantulas can be an important traditional cultural practice for some indigenous peoples.
  • Source of nutrition – Tarantulas are high in protein, fatty acids, and other nutrients that could theoretically be beneficial raw.

However, the potential health risks outweigh these limited benefits for most people. Any nutritional value could still be obtained from cooked tarantula.

What does tarantula taste like raw?

The taste and texture of raw tarantula varies depending on the species and body part eaten. Descriptions of raw tarantula flavor include:

  • Legs – mild flavor described as a cross between crab and chicken
  • Abdomen – more flavorful with an earthy, nutty or gamey taste
  • Overall – the dominant flavor is the bristly hairs on the tarantula’s legs and body

The texture ranges from crunchy on the legs to mushier and gooey on the abdomen. The experience of eating a raw tarantula also depends heavily on mental perceptions aside from just taste.

Do people eat live tarantulas?

Yes, there are accounts of people eating live tarantulas, especially in Cambodia. Eating live tarantulas is an extreme practice even among those cultures that traditionally eat tarantulas. Reasons for eating live tarantulas include:

  • Novelty and thrill seeking – done as an extreme challenge
  • Tradition – Some Cambodian traditional practices involve eating live tarantulas
  • Avoid toxin release – Anecdotal belief that eating them live avoids release of toxins

However, there is no evidence that eating live tarantulas reduces any toxicity. This practice poses an even higher risk of parasite transmission as well as potential bites inside the mouth or throat.

What part of the tarantula can you eat?

All parts of the tarantula are edible and eaten in different cultures, including:

  • Legs – Often considered the best part, eaten after being detached from the body
  • Abdomen – Contains more flavorful meat and organs
  • Cephalothorax – Can be eaten but is more difficult to access meat
  • Mandibles – The fangs or jaws may be eaten or removed before cooking

Different cultures favor different parts – for example, the legs are most popular in Cambodia while the abdomen is preferred in Venezuela. The edible parts can be prepared after cleaning out the jaws, fangs, spinnerets, book lungs and hemolymph.

Do you have to cook tarantula before eating?

It is highly recommended to cook tarantulas thoroughly before eating to kill any potential parasites, bacteria or viruses. Cooking also serves to:

  • Improve flavor – Cooking improves the flavor of the tarantula by softening the texture.
  • Remove urticating hairs – Tarantulas have stinging hairs that can be neutralized by cooking.
  • Kill pathogens – Cooking to an internal temperature of 165°F kills pathogens making it safer.
  • Denature toxins – Heat can break down any toxins present in the tarantula’s body.

While raw consumption does occur in parts of the world, cooking tarantulas is considered the safer choice to avoid foodborne illnesses.

Can you get sick from eating raw tarantula?

Yes, there are risks of getting sick from eating raw tarantula including:

  • Salmonella – Tarantulas may carry Salmonella just like raw chicken or eggs.
  • E. coli – Raw tarantulas may harbor E. coli bacteria that can cause severe food poisoning.
  • Tapeworms – Tapeworm eggs and larvae have been found in raw tarantulas.
  • Tularemia – Rare rabbit fever bacteria may be present on raw tarantulas.
  • Toxins – Raw tarantulas from South America may contain toxins that cause numbness, swelling or headaches.

Symptoms range from digestive upset to life-threatening neurotoxicity in rare cases. Thorough cooking provides a safety buffer against these risks of eating raw tarantulas.

What diseases can you get from tarantulas?

Some potential diseases or conditions that can result from eating raw tarantula meat include:

  • Salmonellosis – Caused by Salmonella bacteria leading to diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
  • E. coli infection – Can result in severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and fever.
  • Tularemia – Rare rabbit fever bacterial disease causing skin ulcers, swollen glands and fever.
  • Tapeworm infection – Can occur if tapeworm larvae in raw tarantula infect the intestines.
  • Allergic reaction – Some people may have allergic reactions to tarantula proteins when eaten raw.
  • Numbness/swelling – Caused by toxins in some tarantula species leading to neurological effects.

Proper cooking of tarantula meat eliminates most disease risks. Use caution when consuming raw as diseases may vary based on tarantula species and geographic origin.

What poison is in a tarantula?

Most tarantula species do not contain lethal toxins but some do possess mild venoms that can cause discomfort or irritation:

  • Urticating hairs – Microscopic barbed hairs on the tarantula’s abdomen that can cause skin irritation and itching when touched.
  • Venom – Their venom is designed to paralyze prey but is not considered toxic to humans except in rare cases of allergies.
  • Theraphosidae toxins – Tarantulas from South America have neurotoxic peptides that can cause localized numbness, swelling or headaches in humans.

The LD50 or median lethal dose for tarantula venom has not been established. But in general, the toxins and venom present minimal risk for humans who eat tarantulas that are properly cooked to denature the proteins.

What happens if you get bit by a tarantula?

Being bit by a tarantula is unlikely to be medically significant or life-threatening for humans in most cases. However, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Instant pain – Tarantula bites cause immediate sharp pain from their large fangs.
  • Swelling and redness – The bite area swells up and becomes red.
  • Itching – Bites usually cause itching and irritation around the affected area.
  • Muscle spasms – Due to the venom, involuntary muscle cramps and spasms may occur.
  • Nausea – Some people experience nausea as a result of the bite.

In rare cases, severe allergic reaction to the venom proteins can lead to anaphylaxis. Seek medical treatment if bite symptoms seem severe or excessive.

What species of tarantula is most poisonous?

No tarantula species are considered dangerously toxic to humans, but the following are known to have more potent venom:

  • Brazilian wandering spider
  • Chilean rose tarantula
  • Chinese bird spider
  • Sydney funnel-web spider
  • Brown recluse spider

Their venoms contain neurotoxins that can cause more severe pain, muscle spasms, vomiting, breathing issues or erratic heart rates in rare cases. However, even bites from these species are unlikely to be lethal unless the person is allergic.

Can you eat a tarantula that died?

It is not recommended to eat a tarantula that died of unknown causes, as this poses a high risk of being exposed to toxins or pathogens. Some concerns with eating found-dead tarantulas include:

  • Bacterial contamination – Dead bodies have high levels of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.
  • Decomposition – Toxins are released as the body breaks down after death.
  • Pesticides – The tarantula may have residues if exposed to pesticides.
  • Disease – Viruses, parasites or other pathogens may have killed the tarantula.
  • Unknown toxin – Venom or toxins may be concentrated in the dead tarantula’s glands.

Unless you are certain of the freshness and cause of death, it is best to avoid eating dead tarantulas. Only consume tarantulas you have harvested and prepared yourself or that were raised for human consumption to be safe.


In summary, eating raw tarantulas is not recommended and comes with health risks from bacteria, parasites, toxins or allergies. Any potential nutritional benefits can also be obtained from cooked tarantula meat. Thorough cooking helps improve the flavor and texture while eliminating the hazards of eating tarantulas raw. If trying tarantula it is advised to cook it first, but only harvest and eat tarantulas from trusted and sustainable sources rather than consuming found-dead wild specimens.

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