What Really Happens When
a Spider Bites You
After much research, we’ve found that you won’t turn into Spider-Man if a spider bites you. Instead, several other extremely unpleasant things can happen …
By Camille Lamb
They’re hairy, some of them are big, and they all have a pretty awful reputation. But the fact is, tarantulas won’t kill you. “The Chilean rose is the most common variant of pet tarantula, and I’ve been bitten by them a lot,” Kaae explains. “One got me pretty deep once, and there was swelling along with a few heart palpitations, but it was no big deal. When my wife was bitten, she had tingling and numbness up her arm and across her back. But nobody’s ever died from a tarantula bite as far as I know.”
That said, Kaae’s wife still has two tiny fang-sized holes in her hand thanks to toxins that basically melted her flesh. “When a spider bites, it injects a venom that contains an enzyme that dissolves tissue,” he explains. “They dissolve their prey from the inside out.”
Found in every state but Alaska, the black widow likes to hang out in in dark, humid places, and it possesses a potentially deadly neurotoxin that is among the most poisonous chemicals produced by any animal in the world. Scared? Don’t be. Only 5 percent of untreated bites end in death, according to Kaae.
If you’re bitten, expect to feel a sensation in your chest that some liken to a heart attack. There may also be muscle cramps, nausea, difficulty breathing, and fainting. Bites are typically treated with nothing more than pain medication.
Severe cases require an antivenom, which is created by injecting venom into a horse, then extracting the venom-neutralizing “antivenin” produced by its body, which is then used to treat bites in humans.
The brown recluse is found in the Eastern United States, and it will f*ck. You. Up. “Its bite is small, but it causes necrosis, which means your tissue begins to rot,” Kaae says. “The rotting area gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and when you go to a doctor, they usually need to cut it off because it becomes gangrenous. I’ve seen people lose arms and legs.”
People lucky enough to avoid amputation are typically left with scarring. Oh, and other symptoms include kidney failure, coma, and death!