Well known for its pristine beaches, spicy, sizzling street food, and mystical Buddhist temples, Thailand is a popular destination that attracts millions of tourists every year. But like many tropical corners of the planet, the country is also home to oodles of weird and wonderful animal life, including a number of spiders in Thailand that you might just want to read up on before you jet over.
Cue this guide. It brims with hairy-legged arachnids that prowl the dense Thai forests and strange orb-weaver critters that spin colossal webs to catch their prey. It’s not overly loaded with dangerous spiders, mainly because there aren’t all that many dangerous spiders in Thailand – most can’t harm humans and the few deaths that do occur from bites are usually down to allergic reactions, not the spider bite itself.
The chances of coming across any of these species of spiders in major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai are low. But head out to rural Thailand, from the elephant-stalked jungles of the north to the protected islets of the south, and encounters become much more likely.
Abandoned-web orb-weaver (Parawixia dehaani)
First on our list of spiders in Thailand is the strange abandoned-web orb-weaver, also known as Parawixia dehaani. This dark brown spider is often found in domestic gardens across Southeast Asia, but also in other nearby countries such as India, the Philippines, and even as far afield as Australia. For that reason, it can also be called the garden spider.
Although they’re only active at night when they come out to hunt for moths and other flying bugs, these guys can usually be spotted on account of their unique appearance that some say resembles that of the more feared tarantula. Keep a look out for the triangular abdomen, usually colored light brown with a dash of beige right across the front. The legs are long and have sharp spikes poking from their final sections
During the day, garden spiders usually hide under leaves or other pieces of undergrowth away from the sun. They’ll also spend lots of time building their webs, which are typically spherical with an open hole on one side to draw in unsuspecting prey. An interesting thing about Parawixia dehaani is that they can pretend to be dead if disturbed. They don’t have a venomous bite and aren’t considered dangerous to humans.
Lynx spider (Oxyopidae)
Known for their colorful, striped abdomen and spiky legs, the lynx spider is a small creature that feeds on other insects. In Thailand, you can cross paths with these ambush hunters in forests, woodlands, and gardens in rural areas. And they’re not unique to the Land of Smiles – these guys have populations all over the world, from the woods of South America to the forests of Eastern Europe!
They usually live on plants and do not need a web to kill prey. Instead, they harness the power of that lush camo to hide in and around bright flowers, lying in wait for unknowing pollinators and flies. When the time comes to strike, the lynx, true to its feline moniker, can move fast – they have excellent vision and can run quickly.
Thankfully, lynx spiders have no interest in attacking humans and no dangerous venom either. They also happen to be considered among the world’s only social spiders, which means they don’t actually mind hanging out with other lynxes should the opportunity arise, hence why they’re occasionally observed in groups.
Yellow sac spider (Cheiracanthium)
Yellow sac spiders look how you’d probably imagine them to look with a name like that. A mix of mustardy white and pale yellow from tip to toe, they have a large palp and an equally sized thorax with a distinct darker marking right down the middle. A series of eight hairy legs that can grow to multiple times the body length means they often get mistaken for tarantulas.
These guys like to live in hot and dry spaces. That could be anything from under a log pile in a forest or within folds of leaves in a domestic garden. There, they’ll spin themselves a narrow fluted tube of silk thread that keeps them protected and warm before heading out at night to hunt, mainly for other, smaller spiders.
Although these spiders are small in size, their sharp fangs can leave a nasty bite. And they’re venomous to humans, capable of causing about the same pain as a common wasp. Sometimes there can also be complications with yellow sac bites leading to further necrosis of the flesh at the site of contact. It’s best to seek medical attention if you think you’ve been a victim.
Cyrtarachne spider (Cyrtarachne inaequalis)
The cyrtarachne spider is unquestionably one of the stranger creatures on this list. Only recently properly documented and observed by scientists, it’s thought to be native to nearby Myanmar and have populations across the region, including in India and, potentially, Thailand.
Thing is, you can hardly miss it. The whole body pulsates with changing colors and spots. No one really knows what causes the strange movement of hues across the back, though the various theories range from digestive enzymes in the skin to dilating blood vessels that are there to warn off would-be predators.
These spiders mostly live in forests and rural areas in Thailand, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll come across one in the bigger cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. They’re also limited to the northern parts of the country, in and around the hills of Mae Hon Son and Chiang Rai.
Cobalt blue Tarantula (Cyriopagopus lividus)
Although there are more than 900 species of tarantula across the world, you can only cross paths with three when visiting Thailand. One of those is the cobalt blue tarantula. This large spider has 13 to 20 cm-long legs and is one of the rarest spiders in the country. In fact, it’s only thought to live in a very small section of forest along the Thailand-Myanmar border in the far north.
The color of its skin is black, but under the right light, it may appear as blue (hence the name). They also have black and grew upper bodies covered in the trademark tarantula hairs. These spiders usually live in tropical rainforests and feed on other insects, birds, frogs, and even lizards.
Keep in mind that the cobalt blue is one of the most dangerous tarantulas in the world. It is known to defend its burrow by raising its sharp fangs and front legs. The bite from this spider can be very painful for humans. Expect to experience muscle cramps and inflammation. Needless to say, medical attention is needed if you do suffer a bite!
Thai black tarantula (Haplopelma minax)
The second of three Tarantula species that can be found in Thailand on this list, the Thai black tarantula is a darkly colored, fast, and aggressive creature. It usually spends its time in underground burrows in tropical forests and is known to live in good numbers within the wild reserves of the Khao Sok National Park, a land of sprawling wetlands and lagoons and primeval jungle that runs through the midriff of the country.
If you do go looking for one in those parts, you should know that tarantulas really don’t like being disturbed. Once startled, they are known to defend and attack instantly. Even though their bites are not as serious as that of the colbalt blue tarantula, some people may be allergic to their venom and experience serious discomfort. In case you do get bitten by a Black Tarantula, we advise you to clean the bite with water and to get medical attention just in case.
Wolf spider (Lycosidae)
One of the most common spiders in Thailand is the almighty wolf spider. With stripes that resemble a zebra, dappled legs, and a brown body, these spiders can range from 10 to 35mm in length. They’re actually a pretty well dispersed species, with populations all over Southeast Asia, India, Australasia, and South America alike.
The wolf spider is usually spotted in grassy and leafy woodland areas. In winter, these creatures are known to seek shelter and can move into houses and buildings in rural areas in the Land of Smiles, which is when they’re most often in contact with humans.
There’s some bad news for any arachnophobes on their way to the home of pad Thai and sticky mango rice here: Wolf spiders are mildly venomous. They don’t like being provoked and can inflict bites that lead to serious discomfort followed by a visit to the doctor for medical attention. In some cases, bites can be necrotic, meaning they lead to decay of the flesh at the site of contact.
Fighting spider (Thiania bhamoensis)
Thiania bhamoensis, also known colloquially as the fighting spider, got this name because of its penchant for confrontation with other members of their group. Yep, males of the species will often push and wrestle with other males in elaborate mating rituals that are intended to establish dominance. In countries like Thailand that’s even become a sport and people still bet on the outcome of spider fights.
In addition to that, these spiders are well known for their beautiful coloration. Male fighting spiders are blue, while their female partners are green. There’s also a common belief that the ones with the boldest and darkest coloring are the most aggressive of all.
Fighting spiders are found in the wild all the way from south Burma to the islands of Indonesia. Thailand is actually right there smack dab in the middle of their range. They typically survive on a diet of small insects and flies. They aren’t considered dangerous to humans.
Thai zebra tarantula (Cyriopagopus albostriatus)
Sometimes called the Thailand zebra leg tarantula, this hairy-legged beast of an arachnid is among the largest of the spiders in the Land of Smiles and the whole of Southeast Asia besides. They’re difficult to miss, what with beefy backs and wide legs. They’re usually colored a mix of black and grey with certain highlight patches of brown and cream at the point where the limbs join the body.
Being what’s known as an Old World spider, they don’t have defensive hairs but rely solely on a potent venom. That’s actually one of the strongest venoms of all the tarantula clan, capable of causing intense pain at the site of contact and leaving victims with decaying flesh and even extra full-body complications.
Oddly, the Thailand zebra leg tarantula is also known as the edible spider in neighboring Cambodia. There, it’s often skewered and cooked over open coals for consumption. We’ll leave you be the judge of how good they are!
Spiders in Thailand – our conclusion
There are hundreds of species of spiders in Thailand. From the big and bulky tarantulas that everyone is scared of to the smaller garden spiders that you could even encounter in the green space behind your condo in Bangkok, there’s a whole bunch to know about when you come holidaying in the Land of Smiles. Some are more dangerous than others, but the good news is that Thailand’s eight-legged critters are nowhere near as worrying as the snakes in Thailand.
Are there dangerous spiders in Thailand?
Although Thailand is home to plenty of spiders, only a few species have a reputation for being aggressive and biting humans. You should definitely keep an eye out for some tarantula species. Their bites can be dangerous and sometimes you’ll need to visit the hospital for anti-venom treatment. What are the symptoms of a nasty bite? Expect to experience swelling, exhaustion, muscle cramping, difficulty breathing, or fever.
Does Thailand have a lot of spiders?
The truth is that nobody actually knows how many spiders reside in Thailand. Some of the latest reports say there are around 1,000 species of spiders living in Thailand.
Are there brown recluse spiders in Thailand?
Yep! Although the Brown recluse spider is not native to Thailand, it is believed they have arrived with imported goods from other parts of the world. They are now among the most common spiders anywhere.
Are there tarantulas in Thailand?
Planet Earth is home to nearly 900 species of tarantula, but only three species can be found in Thailand. When vacationing in Thailand, you can cross paths with the Thai zebra tarantula, the cobalt blue, and the Thai black tarantula.