Tarantula - Pet Tarantula
Exotic pet owners need to be aware of the fact that some of these pets do have potential dangers and act accordingly. Protect your pet from other people and protect other people from your pet. The spider is fragile. There could be liabilities in owning a venomous pet.
What frightens me is the fact that so many exotics are bought on a whim, for show, or because they are popular and we must keep up with the Jones. Many animals die because of ignorant people. Responsible pet owners know what they are getting into far in advance of making a purchase. Research and investigate before you consider buying any exotic pet.
When choosing your tarantula make certain to purchase from a reputable breeder, a breeder who knows a great deal about these beautiful spiders. There are many different species of the tarantula and each has a different disposition and method of care. You will find tarantulas for sale and breeders of trantulas under subjects and breeders and sellers.
There are over 800 species of tarantulas. The largest tarantula is the goliath tarantula which has a 13 inch leg span. Some tarantulas live in underground burrows, some live in trees and some live on the ground.
Picture of a tarantua Cobalt Blue Tarantula by Claudia Adams Click to enlarge.
More tarantula pictures Pictures of tarantulas
Tarantulas are called arachnids which are a spider and they have 8 legs, insects have 6 legs. They can bite, though venomous, most species of tarantula do no more harm than a bee sting. Not unlike the bee, it is possible to be allergic to the spider’s venom and you can go into anaphylactic shock.
Tarantulas also have irritating hairs with its regular hairs, that they can fling, or would that be flick? These hairs can be highly irritating and itch like crazy. The good news is that I have never been bitten by a tarantula. I have been subjected to the hair irritation by cleaning the enclosure, and coming into contact with the hairs quite by accident.
Tarantulas are delicate creatures. When handling them don’t allow them to fall, they can be skittish, and a short fall can injure them severely or even kill them. Tarantulas don’t like roommates. They are not social critters so they must be kept one per enclosure. One or the other will end up as a main course.
Grammastola rosea, Chilean rose, is the most popular choice because of its easier disposition. It is also a ground dwelling species, living in a burrow during the day and feeding at night. The ground dweller is a much easier habitat to replicate, to make your spider feel at home, and be comfortable. A female Chilean rose has a lifespan of approximately 20 years. The male has a lifespan of only about a year and a half after reach adult age. This is the species that we will generally be referring to in this article.
A five gallon aquarium is sufficient for a tarantula. A fish aquarium makes an decent enclosure. The top of the aquarium should be screen, cheese cloth or mesh so that the aquarium has ventilation. Tarantulas are excellent climbers. Make sure their cage is secure and escape proof. You don’t want other’s harassing your spider or harm coming to your spider. If you have children around make sure the enclosure has a secure lock.
Most vivarium or terrarium products are perfect.
Tarantulas need humidity. Damp vermiculite works the best or you can use potting soil or a mixture sand, soil and sphagnum moss. Make sure the items you use are clean and sterile so bacteria or mold doesn’t cause a problem. The material should be supplied to the point of 1/3 of the way up the enclosure (usually four to five inches). This material is a must; the spider needs humidity and moisture and also needs to build her burrow. If she falls she could be killed if there is not enough soft substrate. Judge the depth of the substrate according to the size of the tarantula. Don’t’ use any cedar shavings in the enclosure; it is harmful, in fact poisonous to the tarantula.
Dressing the cage up isn’t necessary, except for your aesthetic purposes. But, be very careful what you do use. Do not use sharp rocks. If the tarantula falls it could cause a serious injury. Cactus is dangerous; a spider may fall and be impaled on the prickly needles. I have seen several books showing cacti as an enclosure dressing, not a good idea at all.
Keep the enclosure clean. The caging material need not be cleaned out more than a few times a year if you keep up on the housekeeping religiously. Insects that you feed your tarantula can be a bit messy when the spider is done consuming it, so clean it up with a tissue or paper towel. The spider’s excrement can be cleaned up with a tissue. Keeping the cage clean is important; you don’t want mites feeding on the remains of the tarantula’s dinner. Also, mold and mildew can form.
Keep the cage out of direct sunlight. Glass containers especially can get very hot which can kill the spider. Think of car windows in the summer. Also, if the container is too warm it can dry out the humidity that is necessary to the spider. Added lighting is not needed and can be harmful. They prefer dark to lighted areas.
They need a hidey nook go the inexpensive route and partially bury a clay flower pot so that ¾ is above the substrate or purchase artificial log from a pet store or pet supply.
A humidity gage and a thermometer are essential to keep track of the humidity and temperature. A temperature range between 75 degrees F to 85 degrees F is about perfect. If you need additional heat a heating pad (made for pets not humans.) can be placed under the cage but make sure it only covers one third of the cage so that the spider can escape the heat. Heating pads for humans have an automatic shut off in two hours. Find a heating pad or under tank at a pet supply, Amazon, or pet store.
Tarantulas are carnivores and predators. The tarantula crushes its prey with its powerful mouth parts. There is not much that they will not kill and eat. Tarantulas don’t need to be fed every day; once a week is about right. Baby tarantulas are growing fast and need to be fed about 2-3 times a week. Tarantulas need fresh water. Keep it in a shallow container since you don’t want your spider’s food to drown.
Many things can be fed; crickets, beetles, earthworms, grasshoppers, small rodents, snakes, and frogs, be careful of prey that may be too big for you spider. After all you don’t want your beloved pet to become the prey. Insects you catch in the wild could have been exposed to toxins or poisons. If you live in an area where this could be a concern, purchase the insects for your tarantula.
Tarantulas have an exoskeleton, like for example, a hermit crab, or scorpion. They do not have internal skeletons like you or I do. Exoskeletons don’t allow for growth so in order for the tarantula to grow it has to molt out of its old exoskeleton. This is a very similar process to the crayfish. The old exoskeleton splits and the spider works his way out. It takes several days for the new exoskeleton to harden. To help your spider molt, mist the cage lightly with water. Molting is stressful on a spider. Do not handle the tarantula during a molt. Adult tarantulas molt once or twice a year. Baby tarantulas will molt several times a year since they are growing so quickly. If you notice your tarantula on her back leave her alone she is molting. Tarantulas do not expire naturally on their backs.
As you can clearly see the tarantula is not a pet for everyone. With their half inch fangs they could deliver a painful bite. But all in all the tarantulas can be gentle pets, though certainly not the cuddly variety. Please, do your homework before purchasing a tarantula. One key to successfully owning any exotic animal is, understanding as much as you can about the species, and in addition, how to properly care for it. Above all else, enjoy your pet tarantula!
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