General Tarantula Care Sheet
Would you like to own a Tarantula or Spiderling, but do not know where to start?
We have put together a general care sheet to help you decide if a Tarantula is the perfect exotic pet for you.
What equipment do you need?
Tarantulas can be kept very inexpensively, spiderling cheaper still. Listed are a few items that you will require before you purchase your new Tarantula.
- Housing - glass or plastic tank (latter is cheaper)
- Heat Mat
- Substrate - soil or vermiculite
- Decor - cork bark
- Book - always best to read a few books
- Live foods - crickets to feed your Tarantula
- Shallow water dish
- Temperature and Humidity Gauges - a must to ensure the correct environment
For terrestrial (ground dwelling) species, place the substrate along the bottom of your enclosure, if you have a burrowing species ensure this is a little deeper. Tarantulas need somewhere to retreat to during the day, or to make a layer of web around the entrance of their burrow, place the cork bark on top of the substrate. A shallow water dish should be placed on the cool end of the enclosure for large Tarantulas.
If you have an arboreal (tree dwelling) species like the Pink Toe Tarantula, height will be more important than floor space. For this species, provide a shallow substrate on the floor with plenty of branches and artificial plants running towards the top of the enclosure. This species will find a suitable area and make a webbed home, normally within a cork bark tube and plants.
For spiderlings, the use of a small plastic container is suitable, most breeders keep them in small plastic deli cups. This makes them easier to feed and maintain when you have large amounts. The most important factor you have, is that the spiderling cannot escape through small air vents, which is possible! You need to have a similar set up as above, but mist with water instead of providing a water dish. Small spiderlings can easily drown in shallow water dishes.
Which species are best for beginners?
For your first Tarantula, you need a species that is docile and calm and will rarely attack. Although some species are docile, some will happily flick hairs towards your face if they feel threatened, caution must be taken. We have listed the ideal beginner species with both common and Latin names:
- Chile Rose - Grammostola rosea
- Curly Hair - Brachypelma albopilosum
- Mexican Blood Leg - Aphonopelma bicoloratum
- Pink Toe - Avicularia sp
- Mexican Red Knee - Brachypelma smithi
- Mexican Red Leg - Brachypelma emilia
- Mexican Fire Leg - Brachypelma boehmei
- Red Rump - Brachypelma vagans
- Brazilian Black - Grammostola pulchra
What Temperature and Humidity levels do I need to provide?
As a general rule, most beginner Tarantulas will do well if provided with a daytime temperature of 21-24C. To obtain this temperature, place a heat mat under 1/3rd of a plastic tank or if using a glass tank 1/3rd on the back. The heat can sometimes cause the glass to crack.
The humidity levels should not go below 60% as the Tarantula may have difficulties in moulting. Each species of Tarantula should be researched for the correct requirements, as the above is a guideline only. To obtain the require humidity level, dampen one side of the enclosure and light mist with water if this needs to be increased.
What do I feed my Tarantula?
Tarantulas need to be fed on live insects. There are a number of insects you can feed your Tarantula on from crickets, locusts to mealworms. Some species of Tarantulas will accept defrost mouse pinkies when adults. You will have to make the pinkie look alive by moving this in front of the Tarantula using some long tweezers, please do not use your fingers!
As a general rule, most Tarantulas should be fed 3-6 crickets per week of appropriate sized food, some species can and will eat less amounts. Growing spiderlings require a lot of food, you should feed them appropriate amounts.
If any live food are not eaten, they should be removed as crickets will attack Tarantulas when moulting their skin!
Can Tarantulas be handled?
Some species of Tarantulas are docile and can be handled, but we wouldn’t recommend this. Although some are very docile, each Tarantula has a different personality and if it feels threatened it will bite you. Just take a look at Tarantulas fangs, you don’t want them to sink into your hand!
What happens if a Tarantula bites me?
If a Tarantula does bite you, it is best to go to your local Doctor or Hospital for advice as everyone reacts differently to a bite. If bitten on the hand, some may experience swelling and pain on and around the area, this can also travel up the arm. Some people may have a worse reaction, which can lead to blood poisoning.
What happens if a Tarantula flicks hairs at me?
If you have a species of Tarantula that flicks hairs, caution should be taken not to let any get in or around your eyes. Most people will experience the hairs on their hands and arms. If you have sensitive skin, this can cause an itchy rash that may last up to several days. If hairs do go into your eyes or you are experiencing skin problems, seek medical attention.