So you’ve probably been through our Getting Started section, took all the options in to consideration and bought yourself a tarantula. Congratulations! For first time keepers, welcome to the hobby! For keepers who already have tarantulas, which one are you getting next? We all know you want another one…
We will dedicate this page to some of the basics, as well as do’s and don’ts that should be covered in regard to owning and caring for a tarantulas as a pet. Again, we don’t know it all, but these are thing to consider and be careful of while caring for your tarantulas.
SOME BASIC GUIDELINES
LOVING THEM TO DEATH
This is unfortunately a common problem with many beginners or keepers new to the hobby. Tarantulas are pretty slow-living creatures, they aren’t active all the time and can sometimes be boring, stand in one spot for days at a time or won’t come out of their burrows for weeks or even months. So naturally, we want to enjoy our tarantulas and this prompts us to overdo things a little sometimes.
Take your time, be patient with your monsters and they will reward you for years to come.
This is a common mistake. Feeding time is one of the most exciting activities when keeping tarantulas and even we can’t get enough of watching our little monsters take down their prey and then happy dance all over the place as they enjoy their meal. We also want to see them grow to full size as quickly as possible so we can see them in all their glory as adult specimens.
However, over feeding is detrimental to the health and lifespan of your tarantulas, with many in the hobby saying that tarantulas will live many years less, if over fed or power-fed.
Recommended Feeding Schedule:
Spiderlings: We feed one prey item – Every 2nd or 3rd day if they will take it, and as little as once a week.
Juveniles: We feed one prey item – Once or twice a week if they will take it.
Adults: We feed one prey item – Once or twice a week if they will take it.
FEEDING INCORRECT PREY OR PREY THAT IS TOO BIG
Feeding prey that is too big for your tarantula could be disastrous, and you might find the prey item eating your tarantula instead of the other way around. A good rule of thumb is to always feed your tarantula a prey item that is no larger than the tarantula’s abdomen.
The type of prey item is also important. If you have a terrestrial species and you feed it prey that’s capable of climbing most surfaces, the chances of your tarantula catching it’s prey is greatly lowered. Also, there is no point feeding an arboreal tarantula with a prey item that doesn’t or can’t climb. Try to select prey feeders that best suit your type of tarantula.
FEEDING WILD PREY
“I found it in the garden” could be the end of your tarantula. In almost all domestic and suburban living, humans have contaminated their homes living areas with poisons and chemicals that inevitably come in contact with all the creepy crawlies in our garden.
The last thing you want to do is feed your tarantula a sickly or poisoned prey item which ends up killing your prized pet. Stick to buying or breeding your own clean colonies of feeders.
FEEDING TOO SOON AFTER A MOLT
Tarantulas are extremely soft and supple directly after molt, including their fangs meaning they need time to harden up again. So it’s a bad idea to try and feed your tarantula too soon after a molt because again, should the prey item attack or bite, it may injure your tarantula and even kill it.
Always wait at least a full week (two weeks in the case of adults) after a molt before feeding your tarantula again.
LEAVING PREY IN THE ENCLOSURE – DEAD OR ALIVE
If your tarantula refuses food, it’s either eaten enough, not feeling well or perhaps in pre-molt meaning that it will molt soon. A prey item that is constantly scurrying about could stress out your tarantula and even become a serious threat during a molt when the spider is very soft and delicate. Always try to clear out uneaten prey items.
It’s also unwise to leave food boluses or dead uneaten prey items in the enclosure because they will attract mold, mites and other pests that could affect the health of your tarantulas. Keep your enclosure clean and well maintained and do a clean up at least once a week when possible.
ENCLOSURE TOO LARGE OR TOO SMALL
A general rule of thumb for all tarantulas to live comfortably with sufficient space is an enclosure that’s roughly four times (4x) longer and wider than the tarantula that will be living in it.
Almost anything can work as an enclosure as long as it’s robust, has ventilation and will not allow your tarantulas or it’s prey to escape.
Enclosures for Slings and Juvenile Tarantulas
Deli tubs or any other small transparent tub, bottle or glass enclosure is perfect for slings or spiderlings as long as you are able to drill, pierce holes or fit vents big enough for good ventilation, but small enough to prevent prey items or your little monster from escaping.
Enclosures for larger Juvenile and Adult Tarantulas
Large seal-able plastic containers like the storage tubs found at your local plastic store are great for larger collections in case you don’t have the space to display your whole collection. Once again, ventilation holes must be drilled or vents fitted to ensure sufficient ventilation for your tarantulas and to prevent excessive humidity and mold.
INCORRECT TYPE OF ENCLOSURE
As discussed briefly on the Getting Started page, we outlined that there tarantulas have three main types of living styles.
FOSSORIAL: Burrowing / Below Ground dwelling species
Horizontal space is more important than vertical space. Use a terrestrial type setup with a water dish, except the substrate should be around 15cm (6 inches) deep or more to allow for burrowing. Make a small smallow hole/burrow under your shelter and the tarantula will take it from there.
TERRESTRIAL: Ground dwelling species
Horizontal space is more important than vertical space. Substrate should be 5cm to 10cm (2 to 4 inches) deep, with a natural or man-made shelter and a shallow water dish.
ARBOREAL: Tree dwelling species
Vertical space is more important than horizontal space. Provide roughly 5cm to 10cm of substrate with a water dish and a vertically placed hide made of cork bark, drift wood or any safe material. Ensure that it is safely placed and will not fall over or collapse on your tarantula.
INCORRECT ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
Tarantulas differ in many ways from species to species and each has their own special set of requirements. It would be foolish of the hobbyist to go out and buy a tarantula without understanding it’s unique requirements for a healthy existence in your care. For example, some tarantulas require very high humidity and cooler temperatures where other require lower humidity and warmer temperatures.
Google and YouTube are your best friends. Websites like this one and many more websites out there have various care sheets for different species that will better help the hobbyist understand the unique requirements of their tarantulas. Make sure to do your research and ensure that you are capable of providing what the tarantula needs or your tarantula may suffer and eventually die.
ACCESS TO WATER
Tarantulas need access to water in case they are not getting sufficient hydration via their prey items. A dehydrated tarantula that is not given appropriate hydration will soon die. Also, a tarantula will have trouble molting and may even die in the process if their internal hydration is not sufficient.
DO NOT USE water sponges or those nasty gel balls because they attract mold and bacteria that can mean disaster for your little monster.
Always provide your tarantulas with access to a small dish with clean water to drink from and / or spray fresh clean water on one side of the enclosure which also creates droplets for arboreal tarantulas to drink from. In fact, it’s quite entertaining to watch arboreal tarantulas find and suck up droplets from the side of an enclosure.