Care Instructions for a Pet Tarantula

person holding a tarantula

Tarantula pet ownership may be an interesting pastime. They are entertaining to watch, don't take up much room, and require minimal upkeep. However, because of their deadly bites, tarantulas aren't the ideal choice if you want a pet you can manage.

The Theraphosidae family of tarantulas contains over 1,000 different species. The Chilean rose (Grammostola rosea), a tough spider endemic to Chile that is often simple to care for, is one of the species that is maintained as a pet more frequently. Tarantulas require live prey and housing that resembles their native environment when kept as pets.

Species Overview

Common Name: Tarantula

Scientific Name: Theraphosidae

Adult Size: 5 to 8 inches long on average

Lifespan: 5 to 20 years on average (females generally live longer than males)

Tarantula Behavior and Temperament

Usually, ground dwellers like the curly hair tarantula are the ideal tarantulas for beginners. They often move more slowly, which facilitates any required handling. The pink toe tarantula is frequently recommended as a suitable tarantula to keep in a tree, but it's not a good first tarantula in general. In general, animals that live in trees are more difficult to handle since they are swift and nimble.

Tarantulas are often solitary creatures. Additionally, handling should only be done when absolutely required, such as when removing the spider from its habitat for cleaning. In such instance, moving the spider in your hands is preferable to getting it into a compact container for travel.

Because tarantulas are often calm, some individuals do let their spiders walk on their bodies. Although their bites are poisonous, tarantulas will attack if they feel threatened. Skin discomfort from the small barbed hairs on tarantulas' abdomens is another issue to be aware of while handling them. These hairs can be released by the spiders if they sense a threat; once inside your skin, they itch and irritate your skin.

Additionally, if the hairs enter your eyes, they may result in severe irritation. Therefore, take care not to rub your eyes when handling the spider or its enclosure, and wash your hands thoroughly after. Additionally, keep children and other animals away from the tarantula.

Tarantulas are still rather simple to care for, despite the fact that their defensive systems slightly complicate this. They're also an excellent option for anyone looking for a calm pet that doesn't need a lot of care. You should budget a few hours every week for feeding and cleaning. Then, you may just take pleasure in watching this unusual animal. When a tarantula is pursuing live prey, it is typically the most active. Otherwise, it usually spends a lot of time in an apparent state of relaxation.

Warning

The poisonous venom of tarantulas often results in a localized response like a bee sting. People who are allergic to the venom, however, can experience more severe symptoms and should get quick medical attention.

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8 Tips for Keeping Tarantulas as Pets

Size Information

Tarantulas have a leg span between 5 and 8 inches long on average. The females are often larger than the males.

Housing

Spiders are not social animals and generally should be housed one to a cage. They need a secure lid to their enclosure, as they can be escape artists, but the lid must also have ventilation.

The basic rule of thumb for ground-dwelling tarantula enclosures is that the length should be nearly three times the spider's leg spread and the breadth should be roughly double that of the spider. Only roughly the same as the spider's leg spread is required for height. Frequently, a 5-gallon aquarium will enough. Additionally, a bigger tank isn't always preferable because it could make it harder to find prey.

Additionally, consider an enclosure that is twice as broad and three times as long as the leg spread for animals that live in trees. It should be around a foot tall. Include branches so the spider has somewhere to crawl and build its web.

Your tarantula also needs a place to hide. A piece of cork bark, a half hollow log (often available from pet stores), or half a clay flowerpot on its side are all good options.

Bright lighting are unnecessary for tarantulas, and they should also avoid direct sunlight. Furthermore, since most species can survive at ambient temperature, they typically don't require heat lights. You may reach the high humidity levels that some species demand by spraying the enclosure every day.

After a 24-hour period, remove any leftover food and spot-clean the cage as necessary. Every four to six months, it is normally advised to thoroughly clean the enclosure, including changing the bedding.

Specific Substrate Needs

Line the bottom of the enclosure with a layer of vermiculite, or vermiculite mixed with potting soil and/or peat, that's at least two to four inches deep to allow for burrowing.

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What Do Tarantulas Eat & Drink?

Feed your tarantula crickets as the primary food source, along with mealworms, superworms, and roaches as supplements. Pinkie mice and tiny lizards can even be fed to large tarantulas. Prior to feeding your tarantula, the crickets should be gut loaded (given healthy meals) and coated with a vitamin powder. What you feed your spider ultimately comes from the cricket. Generally speaking, the food's size should be less than the tarantula's body size.

While juveniles can eat every day or every other day, adults can often only be fed once a week. Simply place the prey around your spider's cage location. It is advisable to feed the spider in the evening when it is more active. To determine the right amount and type of food to give your spider—which might vary according on its age, size, and species—consult your veterinarian.

Fresh water should always be available in a small dish. To avoid drowning, it must be quite shallow. As a precaution, you can put some stones in the dish to give the spider something to crawl out on.

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Common Health Problems

Tarantulas are generally hardy animals and don't have many health problems as long as they are kept secure in the proper environment. However, they still might face some issues.

Although oral nematodes, a parasitic infection, can sometimes be acquired by tarantulas, it is not particularly frequent in captive tarantulas. Reduced hunger and white substance around the spider's mouth are symptoms.

The spider also increases in size during by losing its old exoskeleton and developing a new one. A spider will usually lose its appetite before a molt since this is a stressful period for it. During the lengthy process, which might last many days, don't feed the spider. While its new exoskeleton is solidifying, the spider's live prey can harm it. Additionally, the spider must never be touched when it is molting. The spider may require up to two weeks to fully recuperate after molting.

Tip

Not all veterinarians have experience with tarantulas. Make sure there is one nearby who can treat them before even acquiring a pet tarantula.

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Exercise

As with any animal, tarantulas need to be physically active to stay healthy and at a good weight. These spiders don't require a lot of activity, though. They ought to be able to obtain the activity they need as long as they have an enclosure with enough room to walk around and climb.

Grooming

Tarantulas "groom" themselves by molting, and they often don't require your aid. Keep live prey away from them until the molt is through, and ensure sure their enclosure is at the right humidity level for their species.

Upkeep Costs

The biggest monthly expense for a tarantula will be its food. This may cost anywhere from $5 to $10, and you can even save money by raising your own crickets rather of buying them from a pet store. Spend between $10 and $20 on occasional substrate modifications. Also, remember to include emergency veterinarian treatment in your budget as well as annual veterinary wellness exams.

Pros & Cons of Keeping a Tarantula as a Pet

Interesting, peaceful, and compact tarantulas make excellent pets. They also don't require a lot of upkeep. However, they wouldn't be the ideal pick if you were looking for a friendly and social pet. Additionally, because they aren't particularly active, they wouldn't be a good choice for someone who wants their pet to be highly exciting.

Similar Exotic Pets to the Tarantula

If you’re interested in pet tarantulas, check out:

Otherwise, check out  that can be your new pet.

Purchasing or Adopting Your Tarantula

Tarantulas are sold at a lot of pet stores. But if at all possible, go for one from a reputable breeder or rescue organization. You'll have a better understanding of the animal's medical history and be quite confident that you're not obtaining a spider that is ill or pregnant. The typical price range is from $25 to $75, however this can vary greatly depending on the species, among other things.

Breeding/Reproduction

Local exotic veterinarians might be able to point you toward a good breeder or rescue group. The main benefit of going to a breeder is you'll likely have a wider selection of young animals.

Avoid picking any tarantulas that have their legs curled beneath them and are slumped down. The spider should be active and seem alert. If you can, ask to see it consume. Additionally, confirm that the vendor can provide you with the spider's age and gender. Finally, maintain each of your tarantulas in a separate space to prevent unintentionally breeding yourselves.

FAQ
  • Does a tarantula make a good pet for kids?

    As long as the spiders are kept away from young children who are unable to handle them properly, tarantulas may make intriguing pets for youngsters. Additionally, some kids can feel uncomfortable feeding live prey.

  • Are tarantulas hard to take care of?

    Tarantulas are generally low-maintenance pets, with their primary care needs being regular feedings and periodic enclosure cleanings. 

  • Do tarantulas like to be held?

    Some tarantulas can tolerate gentle handling. However, they will never be tame animals that enjoy cuddling.

CITATION

"Tarantulas: Terrible or Terrific!. Cornell University.", "Tarantula Spider Bite InformationMount Sinai Health System.", "When Your Pet Has Eight Legs. University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.", "When Your Pet Has Eight Legs. University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine." ;

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