14 Weird Facts About Tarantula Brains

A Tarantula is not a highly intelligent spider; well not in the way that we often believe to understand the concept of intelligence. They have a very real awareness of what is going on around them, and they also have the ability to survive under very trying circumstances.

But here’s the thing.

Their brain, as we like to know it, is different from how we experience our own brain. In fact, the Tarantula brain is a fascinating thing, and that is why I am now going to explore various facts about their brain and show you just what it is capable of doing.

Now, be warned that this is not something that is going to be along the lines you would expect.

The brain of the Tarantula is completely different to what you may have imagined it to be like. You see, not all brains are the same, and actually the Tarantula is a prime example of how something that sounds familiar can be so different.

brown tarantula standing on gravel

Fact 1: Their Brain is Not That Advanced

It’s believed by scientists that the brain of the Tarantula is not that well advanced.

In fact, it’s capable of doing very little as we think that they do not have any sense of memory, and they seem unable to identify their owner even after a prolonged period of time.

That means they don’t appear to have this particular way of thinking incorporated into their brain. It just hasn’t evolved enough for them to then be capable of doing that.

So, if you thought that a Tarantula was intelligent because of how it catches its prey and so on, then you are completely wrong on that part.

Fact 2: The Brain Helps Them Coordinate Movements

It seems that one of the main functions of the Tarantula brain is to help the spider to really coordinate its movements.

Remember that it does have eight legs to control, and it must be able to react to various situations. That is where their brain comes into its own, but then it’s still a very basic function to ask the brain to perform, so it’s perhaps not as big a deal as one would initially think. [Source]

So, what we are looking at is the Tarantula brain telling their legs how to move and what to do. It really doesn’t get much more basic than that.

Fact 3: The Brain Tells Them When it’s Time to Mate

Their brain also tells them when it’s time to mate, and that’s a key component for their survival.

Their pinhead size brain sends out signals, and also helps the Tarantula to identify when there is a mate nearby, so they know when to get their groove on.

This is basically just their brain helping them understand another basic function. You will see as we work through these different facts that this is something of a recurring point. 

Fact 4: It Helps Them Identify Danger

As a Tarantula can be prey for a number of animals, their brain does play a role in helping them identify when they may be in some type of danger, and to then take the appropriate action. 

It recognizes danger and then sets things into motion that means the Tarantula will run and hide, or seek to get away from the situation that they are in. 

Once again, we see that the Tarantula brain is designed for safety and survival over and above pretty much anything else. It does, at times, come across as that being the main reason for their brain to exist as it’s largely incapable of doing anything else. 

Fact 5: Simple Tasks are as Far as it Goes

The Tarantula brain is only capable of dealing with simple tasks. It is incapable of any form of complex thinking, and this is partly due to its size.

People often make the mistake of thinking that as a Tarantula is a big spider, that it will have a huge brain. Well, that’s not true.

The size of the spider does not then mean their brain is bigger. Any Tarantula has a very small, miniature brain that is simply not capable of doing pretty much. By comparison, it is so minuscule that it’s no surprise to discover that it is largely incapable of dealing with too many things. 

If it doesn’t involve a simple task for the brain to work on, then it’s not going to work at all.

Fact 6: The Brain Has Neural Cells Attached

The way in which the Tarantula brain works is rather interesting. It has a number of neural cells attached to it, and those cells effectively tell the other parts of the Tarantula what it should be doing at that point. [Source]

These neural cells certainly cover a large part of the Tarantula. They create an intricate network, and where their brain is different from other animals is the fact that these key cells are not all centralized.

Instead, by being spread throughout the body, it means there’s more of a direct and instant function that goes on. Also, they act as sensors on the body for the Tarantula, and it helps keep them more alert to the world around them, and that’s kind of important for the Tarantula.

Fact 7: The Tarantula Brain Works More on Instinct

As the Tarantula brain is not that good at problem-solving, then what is it good at? Well, it turns out that their brain is better at coping with working on instinct rather than anything else.

This is partly due to those neural cells I mentioned earlier.

They react to stimuli, and then the brain kicks into action to interpret things, and then tell the various parts of the Tarantula what they need to be doing.

There’s little evidence of things being planned, aside from the web-weaving thing, so they need to act in the moment rather than anything else.

Large dark brown hairy tarantula on wooden branch

Fact 8: Their Level of Cognition is Lower Than Your Other Pets

This sort of fits in with an earlier point regarding how basic their brain is, but it seems that the level of cognition linked to a Tarantula brain is significantly lower than it is with your other pets.

Basically, they just cannot cope or contend with the thinking and understanding power of your dog or cat, or even a fish.

Part of the evidence here is that they do not react when you call them. They simply do not have the ability to understand what is going on, so how could they then react under those circumstances?

Even your pet fish is going to be able to recognize you over time. They have the ability to link and associate you with certain things, but a Tarantula just cannot do that.

Fact 9: Their Brain is Good at Interpreting Vibrations

One area where the Tarantula brain does very well is in interpreting vibrations. However, they need to do this in order to eat, survive, and mate so it’s not exactly a surprise.

But here’s the thing. Your pet Tarantula is exceptionally good at this interpretation aspect. They can differentiate between vibrations to know what is coming their way, or if they should get out of the way and hide.

This appears to be a skill that they have honed over time to such an extent that they are absolute experts at it.

Fact 10: They Aren’t All Stupid

There are a vast number of sub-species of Tarantula out there, and not all of them are quite as dense as the rest. In fact, some species have shown that their hunting skills are vastly superior to the other species of Tarantula. 

Also, some jumping species have been shown to be able to differentiate between colors as well, and that takes a bit more thought and brainpower to even be capable of doing this type of thing. 

Fact 11: They Tighten the Web to Hear Better

Admittedly, most of the facts surrounding the Tarantula brain do mark them out as sounding a bit stupid, but while that may be the case in some areas, they do manage to carry out certain actions that show they have some abilities.

For example, the Tarantula understands that they can ‘hear’ better if they tighten the strands on their web. They are aware of how this changes the way in which they pick up on the stimuli, and that does show how they are capable of even minimal thoughts.

Fact 12: Their Brain Helps Them to Fight

The ability of the Tarantula to fight their potential prey, and also ward off animals that may be trying to attack the Tarantula, is all thanks to their brain. It is capable of thinking quickly enough to then allow them to know how to react at any given time.

But once again, this is linked to the idea of reacting to some sort of stimuli.

They react in the moment rather than something being planned out, or any kind of drawn-out thought process.

However, their brain is still responsible for helping to tell each part of their body what it needs to be doing in order to deal with the situation it finds itself in.

Fact 13: They Can Learn Things, But Only Connected to Survival

While we are able to learn things in order to enhance our lives, the Tarantula brain is only able to cope with learning things directly related to the survival of the spider. It just cannot work beyond those limitations.

You cannot try to teach a Tarantula how to do some sort of trick. That’s just not going to work as their brain is unable to process that type of information. After all, if they are unable to even remember that you are their owner, and they see you as a strange object every single time, then how are they ever going to manage to learn some sort of trick.

However, if they need to adapt their behavior in order to continue to live, then their brain does appear to have that type of ability.

Fact 14: They Understand Avoidance Learning

The final fact about a Tarantula brain is that it is more than capable of something called avoidance learning.

This is where they can learn to identify certain signals that would indicate something is amiss, and they are then capable of identifying those triggers earlier on the next time they occur.

In this instance, they can manage to understand a certain event results in a certain outcome that they need to then avoid, or take some type of action. It then appears to become part of their natural reaction the next time that situation arises.


So what can we conclude from all of this? Well, we can state that the Tarantula brain is not that advanced in the way that we generally understand a brain to work. 

They have no memory and are incapable of thinking beyond actions that are almost entirely related to their need to survive. Aside from that, their brain just cannot function.

But in their own way, the Tarantula is intelligent. After all, it is capable of surviving in very trying and testing circumstances, so they need to be capable of carrying out some sort of thought process to do that. 

Ultimately, don’t expect too much from your pet Tarantula in the way of them knowing who you are, learning about you, or being able to learn tricks and actions. They are very basic in this department, and yet still have the ability to be fascinating creatures to keep as pets.

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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