Tarantulas are hairy, nocturnal spiders. With over 800 species, you have many options for choosing a pet spider. There are species that dig and others that climb trees. When you bring your tarantula home, you'll need to create a comfortable habitat for her, with a controlled temperature, high humidity, and good hiding places. You will need to follow a feeding routine, but these spiders don't need to be fed every day, unlike conventional pets.
Method 1 of 3: Creating a Habitat
Step 1. Buy a terrarium with a closure of 37 liters
Tarantulas are masters of the art of escape. Therefore, the top of the terrarium needs to have a good clasp. Just in case, you can place one or two bricks on top of the lid. While the 37 liter terrarium is the ideal size to keep a tarantula, you can use an 18 liter if you don't have the option.
Never keep two tarantulas in the same terrarium. They are cannibals and territorial, and one will end up eating the other
Step 2. Adapt a small aquarium
As aquariums have feeding holes, you will need to close these holes at the top so that the tarantula does not escape. To do this, use a silicone aquarium sealant. Don't forget to leave two ventilation holes at the top, with a maximum diameter of 4 mm.
- If you're afraid the tarantula will slip through the top of the tank, place a rock on top of the lid.
- If your tarantula is the tree-dwelling type, keep the aquarium or terrarium upright. Start mounting it horizontally and, if the animal likes to live high up, make the environment vertical.
- Excessive vertical space is a threat to species that dig, as it makes them more vulnerable to injuries caused by falls. The same does not happen with arboreal species.
Step 3. Spread a thin layer of substrate on the bottom of the terrarium
You will need 2.5 to 7.5 cm of sterilized liner at the bottom of the tank. There are many suitable substrates, but you can use a 2 cm layer of vermiculite and add a thin layer of cocoa fiber.
- There are many substrates to choose from, such as coconut fiber, wood husks, peat, sterilized earth and vermiculite.
- If you choose peat, you will need to sterilize the material. Put it in the microwave for ten minutes to kill the parasitic mites. If you don't have a microwave, use the oven on medium heat.
- As some species burrow into the substrate, you may need up to 15 cm of this material.
Step 4. Make a shelter with a broken vase as a daytime hiding place
Tarantulas are nocturnal, so they need shelter to hide from the sunlight and get some sleep. To make a shelter, cut a plastic or ceramic vase in half and bury it in the substrate to make a small hiding place. The entrance should be just big enough for the tarantula to enter, and the interior needs to be comfortable and dark.
- Another great hiding place is a hollow log. Choose an already dry trunk, as wet ones can cause mold problems inside the terrarium.
- Avoid placing sharp objects in the terrarium, as the tarantula can get hurt from them.
Step 5. Attach bamboo and silk plants to the arboreal tarantulas
In contrast to terrestrial tarantulas, which like to hide in the substrate, arboreal tarantulas live in grass and trees. To recreate this habitat, place bamboo, branches and silk plants in the terrarium. Tarantulas will make webs on the branches.
- Tree species have slightly longer legs, which increases the surface area for climbing.
- Terrestrial species should not be encouraged to climb as they can easily fall and injure themselves.
- Remember, the more things you put in the terrarium, the more you'll have to clean.
- A piece of beach wood can be useful.
Step 6. Monitor the temperature
You can place a thermostat inside the terrarium to check the temperature of the habitat. As tarantulas normally live in tropical or subtropical climates, you need to keep the tank temperature between 22 and 30 °C.
- Avoid placing the terrarium near a sunny window as it can easily overheat.
- If the tank is in a room with central heating within the ideal temperature range, you will not need to heat it.
Step 7. Heat half the terrarium
If the habitat temperature is below the ideal range, use a hot stone or an electric thermal mat to heat the terrarium. In both cases, heat only half of the tank, so that the spider can regulate its own temperature by moving to the cold or hot part of the terrarium.
- Avoid letting the habitat temperature exceed 30°C.
- If you live in a cold place and usually turn off the heat in the house in the spring or fall, you will need to use the thermal mat during those months.
- If the temperature in the house gets lower during the winter, use the thermal mat.
Step 8. Use a spray bottle to keep the moisture level inside the tank at 50%
Pour some water into the terrarium to keep the humidity high inside. You can place a moisture meter (hygrometer) on the side of the tank. Check the meter regularly to keep the moisture from dropping too much, which can be dangerous for tarantulas during the molting phase.
Take a look at the tank contents to see if there is no mold
Method 2 of 3: Feeding the Tarantula
Step 1. Give live prey less than half the size of the tarantula
The mainstay of this animal's diet is the cricket, which you can buy in good pet stores or on the internet. You can also feed spider crabs, beetles, grasshoppers, cockroaches and earthworms. Whichever live prey you choose, it needs to measure less than half the size of the tarantula. While it's best to feed live food, you can also serve dead food, such as thawed baby mice or 1 cm of raw steak.
- Do not give the tarantula fangs wider than the size of its abdomen.
- Tarantulas are opportunistic and therefore can subdue small lizards, snakes and rats.
- Cockroaches must be ordered online, and a colony of them must be started to ensure a constant supply.
Step 2. Serve an appropriate number of tusks per meal
The number of live prey to be served depends on their size. For example, you can offer the spider a meal of two small insects or one larger insect, depending on preference and what is available. For younger tarantulas, take only one prey at a time. Adult tarantulas can handle multiple prey by attacking them one at a time and making a ball of food and web out of them.
As these spiders are nocturnal, it is best to feed them at night
Step 3. Feed the young tarantulas more often
You must give the spider an age-appropriate diet. Younger ones need food every two or three days. When the tarantula is older and measures between 25 and 75 mm, you can give it a live insect once or twice a week.
Step 4. Feed the adult tarantulas a diet suitable for their species
When they reach adulthood, these spiders no longer need as many meals as young ones. But, as the size and number of meals varies a lot depending on the species, ask for specific information at the pet shop.
- Feed adult Grammostola porteri or Chilean rose tarantulas with four to five crickets per month.
- Feed adult Theraphosa or Pamphobeteus tarantulas four or five crickets twice a week.
- For tropical tarantulas, which include Therophosa, Phormictopus, Pamphobeteus, Acanthoscurria and Nhandu species, give larger and more frequent meals.
- Feed an adult Pamphobeteus five crickets and one cockroach a week.
Step 5. Do not feed the tarantula during molting
If the spider is on its back and appears to be in a coma, it is probably molting. During this process, the animal regenerates its internal organs and exchanges exoskeleton. During this time, don't give it any live prey, or the tarantula can get hurt easily. You can re-feed the spider five days after molting.
- Don't confuse molting with death. The dead tarantula will not lie on its back.
- If the spider is very sick or dying, it will curl up. The legs will curl under the animal's body, in an awkward position.
Step 6. Remove leftover food after the tarantula has eaten
Take out any remaining live prey after the spider has finished its meal, as these prey can bother the tarantula while it rests. You also need to get rid of food scraps, such as cricket pieces discarded in the water bowl.
Step 7. Provide fresh, non-chlorine water in a small dish
You can use a recycled plastic pot, a plastic vase, or a small plate bought at a pet store. Place the container at the bottom of the terrarium and put a stone in it so that live prey can escape. Otherwise, the crickets you feed the tarantula could drown and foul the water.
- If placing a small dish of water for an arboreal tarantula, position the dish about two-thirds of the height of the pond on the side so that the position is convenient for the spider. Place the container near the terrarium opening so that you can fill it. You can glue it to the side of the tank using a silicone aquarium sealant.
- Give the tarantula bottled water or filtered dechlorinated water.
Method 3 of 3: Playing with the Tarantula
Step 1. Observe the spider
As it is not recommended to touch the tarantula, the best way to play with it is to observe how it moves in the terrarium. You can see it digging into the substrate and, if the species is arboreal, climbing the foliage. It can also be interesting to watch the tarantula as it kills and eats prey.
Step 2. Avoid handling the tarantula, especially during molting
These animals are very vulnerable during this period, as they switch exoskeletons in order to grow. A short drop can easily burst the tarantula's abdomen and kill it, so avoid taking it out of the terrarium in general and don't disturb it in any way during moulting. In addition, tarantula stings can cause swelling and allergic reactions, which should be an even greater incentive not to handle this animal.
- Young tarantulas moult once a month, while adult tarantulas do this every year or two. During this time, do not alter anything in the tank or take live prey.
- It is normal for the tarantula to lie on its back during molting.
- If you decide to handle the tarantula, you need to be very careful. Hold the animal in the palm of your hand and keep your hand at a very low height.
Step 3. Recognize the symptoms of aggression:
front legs and raised tusks. Since tarantula bites can cause swelling and allergic reactions, you need to know when the spider is about to bite. If you see the animal raise its front paws and show its fangs, know that it is getting ready to bite.
- The tarantula sting causes swelling, redness and some pain.
- If you are bitten by a tarantula, you may experience nausea and fever.
- If bitten by tarantula, see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Tarantulas live up to 20 years, so only buy or adopt one if you're ready for a long-term commitment.
- Clean the terrarium every four to six months.
- Watch the tarantula to see if it prefers to eat one or several insects at once. If it appears to be overloaded with several insects, give it only one at a time.
- If you prefer a more natural looking terrarium, fill the space with silk and bamboo plants.
- There is no need to install a lighting system. All arachnids flee from the light. They are night hunters and prefer to hunt when it is dark. Light only stresses these animals, and it can make them nervous. A happy spider is a hidden spider.
- Remember, common sense is all it takes to have a safe, interesting and educational experience with tarantulas.
- Start with one of the so-called "beginners" species:
- Pink Grammosole
- Grammosole aureostriata
- Eupalestrus campestratus
- Brachypelma smithi
- Brachypelma emilia
- Aphonopelma chalcodes
- avicularia avicularia
- Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens
- Brachypelma albopilosum
- Grammoglass pulchra
- Try to find a seller who is familiar with tarantulas or, better yet, a store that specializes in reptiles and arachnids. This way, you can learn more about the care and what to expect from your new pet.
- Know the scientific name of the species of tarantula you buy. It is much easier to find information using the scientific name than using the common name.
- It is not necessary to buy a lot of crickets from the pet shop.
- For a medium-sized tarantula, six crickets are usually enough.
- Overfeeding can cause problems and is not necessary to keep a healthy animal.
- Most people have an instinctive fear of tarantulas. Never use yours to intimidate or scare anyone. This can be extremely stressful for the person and cause the spider to get hurt.
- Do not overfeed the tarantula. Most of them manage to live on five or six crickets a month. Some can go months without being fed. If you are unsure, you can ask a good salesperson or an experienced caregiver for help. But remember that animals will always need water. Too much food will cause the spider's abdomen to swell up like a balloon, and this can cause the spider's abdomen to rupture.
- Never touch your eyes after feeding the tarantula or interacting with it. It is possible for the animal's irritating hair to fall into its eyes. If this happens, go to the hospital immediately.
- Some tarantulas shed fur, which can be quite painful and dangerous if they get into the eyes or enter an airway. They may require hospital treatment. These hairs also irritate the skin. Not all species have them. Research the tarantula to see if you need to worry about it. After putting your hand into the tank for any reason, wash it off immediately before doing anything else.
- No tarantula species can be handled with 100% safety, and no expert recommends holding these spiders. Tarantulas are very delicate and can be quite unpredictable as they depend on a basic instinct developed over millions of years. A fall can rupture the abdomen, and the animal will suffer a slow, painful death.
- All spiders are poisonous and bite if provoked. Remember that the tarantula is wild and acts based on millions of years of evolutionary instinct. She cannot be tamed like a dog or a cat.
- Tarantulas sting if provoked. They are wild animals that need special care and attention. They are not recommended pets for children under 16 years old.
- The venom of most tarantulas is comparable to the sting of a common bee. Some of these poisons can cause a very serious reaction. Research the species you have and avoid contact with the tarantula. The safest thing is never to handle the spider.