How to Care for a Pet Tarantula (2022)

Keeping tarantulas as pets can be a fascinating hobby. They are interesting to watch, take up relatively little space, and are fairly easy to maintain. However, tarantulas aren't the best choice if you want a pet you can handle, as they do have venomous bites.

There are around 1,000 species of tarantulas in the Theraphosidae family. One of the more popular species kept as a pet is the Chilean rose (Grammostola rosea), a hardy spider native to Chile that's generally easy to care for. As pets, tarantulas need housing that mimics their natural habitat, along with live prey.

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

The best tarantulas for beginners are typically the ground dwellers, such as the curly hair tarantula. They tend to move more slowly, which makes any necessary handling easier. The ​pink toe tarantula is often cited as a good tree-dwelling tarantula to keep,but it's not a good first tarantula overall. In general, tree-dwelling species are more challenging to care for because they're quick and agile, making handling difficult.

In general, tarantulas are solitary animals. And handling is not recommended except when necessary, such as moving the spider out of its enclosure for cleaning. In that case, it's best to coax the spider into a small container for transport, rather than moving it in your hands.

Tarantulas are generally docile, which is why some people do allow their spiders to walk on their bodies. However, tarantulas willbite if they feel threatened, and their bites are venomous. Another concern with handling tarantulas is skin irritation from tiny barbed hairs on their abdomens. If they feel threatened, the spiders can release these hairs, which work their way into your skin and cause itching and irritation.

Plus, if the hairs get into your eyes, they can cause serious inflammation. So be careful not to rub your eyes while doing anything with the spider and its enclosure, and wash your hands well afterward. Moreover, do not allow children and other pets to come in contact with the tarantula.

While their defense mechanisms somewhat complicate their overall ease of care, tarantulas are still fairly straightforward to maintain. And they're a good choice for people who want a quiet animal that doesn't require much attention. Expect to spend a few hours each week on feedings and cleaning. Then, you simply can enjoy observing this unique animal. A tarantula is generally at its most active when it's hunting live prey. Otherwise, it typically will spend a lot of time in a seemingly restful state.

(Video) 5 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Getting A Pet Tarantula!

Warning

Tarantulas have toxic venom that typically causes a local reaction similar to a bee sting. However, some people who are allergic to the venom can have more serious reactions and should seek immediate medical care.

1:41

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.

For ground-dwelling tarantulas, the generalrule of thumb is the length of enclosure should be approximately three times the spider's leg span, and the width of the enclosure should be roughly double its leg span. The height only needs to be approximately the same as the spider's leg span. A 5-gallon aquarium often works well. And a larger tank isn't necessarily better, as it can make prey more difficult to find.

For tree-dwelling species, also choose an enclosure that's three times the leg span long and two times the leg span wide. The height should be roughly a foot. Include branches on which the spider can climb and construct 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.

Tarantulas don't need bright lights and should be kept out of direct sunlight. They also generally don't need heat lamps, as most species do fine at room temperature. Some species require high humidity levels, which you can achieve by misting the enclosure daily.

Spot clean the enclosure as needed, and remove uneaten food after 24 hours. It's generally recommended to do a full cleaning of the enclosure, including a change of the bedding, every four to six months.

(Video) How to Care for Tarantulas!

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.

How to Care for a Pet Tarantula (1)

What Do Tarantulas Eat & Drink?

Feed your tarantula a diet of crickets supplemented with other insects, including mealworms, super worms, and roaches. Large tarantulas can even be given pinkie mice and small lizards. The crickets should be gut loaded (fed nutritious foods) prior to feeding your tarantula and dusted with a vitamin powder. What goes into the cricket is what you're ultimately feeding your spider. In general, the size of the food should be smaller than the tarantula's body.

Adults can get feedings roughly once a week while juveniles can eat every day or two. Simply drop in the prey close to where your spider is in the enclosure. Feedings are best done in the evening when the spider is more active. Consult your veterinarian for the appropriate quantity and variety to feed your spider, as this can vary based on age, size, and species.

A small dish of fresh water should be provided at all times. It must be very shallow to prevent drowning. You can place some pebbles in the dish to give the spider something to climb out on as a precaution.

How to Care for a Pet Tarantula (2)

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.

Some tarantulas might acquire oral nematodes, a parasitic infection, though this is not very common for captive tarantulas. Symptoms include decreased appetite and white material around the spider's mouth.

Furthermore, molting is how the spider grows to a larger size, by shedding its old exoskeleton and producing a new one. This is a stressful time for a spider, and it will typically lose its appetite prior to a molt. Don't feed the spider during the molting process, which can take several days. Live prey can injure the spider while its new exoskeleton is hardening. In addition, the spider should never be handled during the molting process. It can take up to two weeks for the spider to fully recover 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.

(Video) WATERING my TARANTULAS "(Part 6)" !!!

How to Care for a Pet Tarantula (3)

Exercise

As with any animal, physical activity is important to keep tarantulas healthy and at a good weight. However, these spiders don't need very much exercise. As long as they have an enclosure that allows them sufficient space to move and climb, they should get the activity they require.

Grooming

Molting is how tarantulas "groom" themselves, and they generally don't need any assistance from you. Just make sure their enclosure is at the proper humidity for their species, and keep live prey away from them until the molt is complete.

Upkeep Costs

On a monthly basis, your main cost for a tarantula will be its diet. This can range from around $5 to $10, and you can even decrease that cost if you raise crickets yourself rather than purchasing them from a pet store. For periodic substrate changes, expect to spend between $10 and $20. And make sure to budget for an annual veterinary wellness checkup, as well as emergency vet care.

Pros & Cons of Keeping a Tarantula as a Pet

Tarantulas are interesting and quiet pets that don't take up a lot of space. They also don't need a lot of maintenance. But if you want a cuddly and social pet, they wouldn't be the best choice. Plus, as they're not very active, they wouldn't be ideal for someone who likes a lot of excitement from a pet.

Similar Exotic Pets to the Tarantula

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

  • Stick insect
  • Madagascar hissing cockroach
  • Emperor scorpion

Otherwise, check outother exotic animalsthat can be your new pet.

Purchasing or Adopting Your Tarantula

Many pet stores sell tarantulas. But if you can, try to get one from a reputable breeder or rescue group. You'll have a better idea of the animal's health history, and you can be fairly certain you're not getting a spider that's pregnant or sick. Expect to pay between $25 and $75 on average, though this can vary widely depending on factors such as the species.

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.

When choosing a tarantula, avoid any that are hunched with their legs curled under them. The spider should appear alert and move quickly. Ask to see it eat if possible. Also, make sure the seller can tell you the age and gender of the spider. Finally, to avoid accidentally becoming a breeder yourself, keep your tarantulas housed individually.

FAQ

(Video) How to TARANTULA? Complete beginner guide 101

  • Tarantulas can be interesting pets for kids, as long as the spiders stay out of reach of children who don't understand their handling. Some children also might not be comfortable with feeding live prey.

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

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

FAQs

How do you take care of a pet tarantula? ›

Care for tarantulas is relatively easy: Feed them once or twice a week depending on their hunger levels, keep humidity high in the cage (if a tropical species), and make sure that there are no crickets in the cage when the spider moults or else the cricket will kill the spider.

What does a pet tarantula need? ›

A healthy female tarantula can live well over 20 years in captivity. During that time, it will need regular food and water, an environment with appropriate heat and humidity, and occasional cleaning of its terrarium.

How often do pet tarantulas need to eat? ›

A good rule of thumb is to offer insects that are half the spiders legspan or slightly smaller than the length their body. Feeding a Tarantula everyday will allow it to grow very fast. However, offering food every 4-7 days for young spiders and 7-10 days for larger spiders is a reasonable regimen.

Can you cuddle a tarantula? ›

Generally, tarantulas respond to daily handling. They crawl freely when placed on an arm or shoulder, but they definitely are not a pet that an owner can cuddle. Tarantulas are very timid and bite only when provoked.

Are tarantulas hard to take care of? ›

While their defense mechanisms somewhat complicate their overall ease of care, tarantulas are still fairly straightforward to maintain. And they're a good choice for people who want a quiet animal that doesn't require much attention. Expect to spend a few hours each week on feedings and cleaning.

How hard is it to keep a tarantula? ›

“Overall, they are pretty easy keepers, but that doesn't mean that they don't require care.” Prospective tarantula owners should be ready to make a long-term commitment to their pet. Males may live as long as 10 years, and females may live past 30!

How do I know if my tarantula is happy? ›

7 Surprising Signs You Have A Happy, Healthy Tarantula - YouTube

How do you make a tarantula happy? ›

Your tarantula will be happiest living in a 10-gallon terrarium or aquarium. (More on that below.) Your spider will also need an area to hide in, such as a half-log, as well as branches, rocks and leaves to make your tarantula feel more at home.

How often do you clean a tarantulas cage? ›

Tarantulas aren't generally very messy, so their habitats only need a little bit of cleaning on a day-to-day basis. Otherwise, all you have to do is do a deep cleaning of your spider's terrarium once every 4-6 months.

Can I feed my tarantula dead crickets? ›

Final Thoughts on Feeding Tarantulas Live Prey

If you're hoping for a pet that can eat dead critters in a can, then a tarantula probably isn't the right choice for you. They will need to be regularly offered a variety of live feeder insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and cockroaches.

How do I know if my tarantula is hungry? ›

A tarantula that is hungry will often sit with its legs outside of its burrow or web waiting for a meal to come. Occasionally, they will start pacing the enclosure. They may also react more strongly to stimuli, like the refilling of their water dish because they are actively hunting.

Can I feed my tarantula a mouse? ›

How old should my Tarantula be before feeding it mice? Not all Tarantulas can be fed mice as some are simply to small even when fully grown. If your species is one of the ones that can eat mice, it should be fully grown or close to it before being fed any kind of whole prey.

Do tarantula bites hurt? ›

If a person gets bitten by a tarantula, the bite will probably feel a lot like a bee sting, with pain in the area of the bite. It will look like a bee sting, too, with redness and some swelling. Because the tarantula's venom (poison) is weak, it's unusual to have more severe reactions involving other parts of the body.

What is the friendliest tarantula? ›

Brazilian Black Tarantulas are one of the best beginner spiders. They are famous for their docile temperament. These spiders are really known for their temperament. While no tarantula should be held very often, this species is known for being one of the calmest and docile.

Do tarantulas feel love? ›

Currently, the consensus is that tarantulas do not have the brainpower or capacity to feel or process emotions, therefore they do not have the ability to feel happiness or love (or sadness, etc).

Do tarantulas get bored? ›

Tarantulas, as well as other insects, do not become bored. This is because they don't have the brain complexity to feel the need to explore and seek new knowledge. When a tarantula isn't moving, it is simply content with having no threats to its survival.

Do tarantulas recognize their owners? ›

Tarantulas Just Aren't That Into You

Spiders do have feelings, but unlike a dog or a cat, they won't bond with you. In fact, they likely won't even recognize you. They simply aren't hardwired to be companions to humans and should never be bought at pet stores, online, or anywhere else.

How many crickets should I feed my tarantula? ›

Most species of tarantulas do well with a regimen of no more than two crickets per week. However, after molting all ages are at their hungriest. Following molt, increase feeding to three crickets the first week or two.

Do tarantulas need heat lamps? ›

Heating. A temperature of 21-24°C is required for most of the tarantulas that you should buy as a beginner. If you have a centrally heated room which stays at that temperature all the time then you won't need extra heating during the winter, but you will between spring and autumn when the heating is switched off.

What tarantula is best for beginners? ›

Some of the best tarantula species for beginners are Brazilian black, Chilean rose, Mexican red-knee, and curly-hair tarantulas. These spiders are known to be fairly hardy and docile as well as tolerant to some handling.

Why is my tarantula turning white? ›

If you spot a white or yellow plume on your tarantula, it is a sign of mold on its body. Remove your tarantula from that enclosure and place in a dry container (water dish should be present).

Why is my tarantula rubbing its fangs? ›

If your tarantula is moving its fangs or rubbing them, then it's possible that it's cleaning them. Sometimes, particles can get lodged in their mouth and fangs, so tarantulas move their fangs or rub them on the glass to clean them.

Why is my tarantula in the corner? ›

When your tarantula is sitting/standing in the corner of the tank, it could be showing signs of pre-molt, needing solitude, or showing a sign that the tank needs to be cleaned. If it is coupled with low activity and refusal to eat food, you can rest assured that this is a sign of pre-molt.

Can tarantulas swim? ›

Tarantulas have been found to "swim" in both the wild and captivity, using their front legs as paddles to "row" on the surface of the water. They won't be deep diving, but they can paddle.

Can 2 tarantulas be in the same cage? ›

Most people think of tarantulas as solitary animals. Though you'll rarely see them housed together, it's not entirely impossible. The majority of tarantulas cannot safely live together. Tarantulas are cannibalistic and will likely eat each other if housed together.

How can you tell if a tarantula is male or female? ›

If you wait until your tarantula matures, sexing him or her will be easier. Mature males have a hook on the underside of their front leg. These hooks keep the female's fangs away from the male during mating. Mature males also have bulbs on their pedipalps, the two shorter, leg-like feelers located near their fangs.

Should I clean tarantula poop? ›

Generally, a tarantula will poop once every 24 hours and will look to do so during the nighttime. While it may reduce visibility inside the enclosure somewhat, their poop does not really appear to bother them. Spot cleaning can be helpful, but deeper, thorough cleans should not be undertaken often.

How often should I change my tarantulas water? ›

In general, if a tarantula puts a bolus or an old molt in their bowl I will immediately change the water and clean the bowl. If they just fill it with substrate I empty the bowl and refill the water.

Can you overfeed tarantulas? ›

Definitely, you can overfeed Tarantula's yes and it also shortens their lifespan if you do.

How old is my tarantula? ›

If the male tarantula does have the bodily signs that show maturity, it is most likely 4 to 6.5 years old. Male tarantulas live only for about 1 to 1.5 years after they have matured. If the tarantula is female, and has not reached maturity, its age will range from 2 to 5 years old.

How long can my tarantula go without eating? ›

A tarantula can survive several weeks and months without food, and possibly up to a year or even longer. A tarantula is a slow-growing species, meaning that it doesn't have strict dietary needs like most other species that are required to eat regularly.

Do tarantulas drink water? ›

Tarantulas drink water through their mouths, which are located right behind their fangs. Basically, a tarantula will submerge its chelicera in the water and suck water in through its mouth. It's pretty adorable, it you're lucky enough to catch your spider having a drink!

Do tarantulas sound? ›

If disturbed, giant tarantulas emit a hissing noise, which they make by rubbing together their first two pairs of legs and their pedipalps – smaller appendages on their heads specialised for feeding.

Why is my tarantula laying flat on its stomach? ›

When the tarantula turns over and lies flat on his back, this means the molt is imminent. During the molt the spider pushes his body through the old exoskeleton and then emerges from underneath.

What can I feed my tarantula Besides crickets? ›

The best choices of food for tarantulas in captivity are gut-loaded insects, mealworms, dubia roaches, crickets, and other invertebrates. Larger pet tarantulas can also be fed with small pinky mice, frozen or thawed.

Can a tarantula eat a pinkie? ›

But unfortunately, the news isn't as good when pinky mice are concerned. Now, tarantulas WILL eat pinky mice – even when they're frozen. But just because a tarantula will eat something doesn't mean they should – after all, they are opportunistic creatures in the wild and won't differentiate.

Do tarantulas need calcium? ›

Do Tarantulas Need Calcium? Your tarantulas do not need calcium, therefore, you do not have to go through the hassle of dusting calcium powder on your crickets, mealworms, etc. As again, they do not have any bones, there is really no need for calcium in your tarantula's body.

Do tarantulas eat birds? ›

They are active predators, generally hunting small vertebrates like lizards, frogs and mice. Dunlop said that generally, tarantulas do not eat birds—as seen in the video—but it is not unheard of.

Do tarantulas scream? ›

Spiders cannot scream since they do not have vocal cords. However, to communicate with each other or threaten their predator, they make hissing and purring noises. This, they do, through a technique called stridulation. To accomplish this, a spider will rub its forelegs on its pedipalps or hairs on its legs.

Do tarantulas poop? ›

Tarantulas do poop just as all animals do, but their poop is a bit different and can be missed if you do not know what to look for. Poop and pee come out of the same opening, just as with birds, and it has a resemblance of bird poop. Healthy tarantula poop looks like white oval-shaped drops.

Do pet tarantulas jump? ›

If you're defining "jumping" as the tarantula launching itself several inches or feet vertically up and down, that's not something that happens much. Tarantulas rarely jump vertically, but some do possess the ability to. Now, most tarantulas do jump, or rather leap, horizontally to quickly subdue their prey.

What type of spider does Billie Eilish have? ›

Cooli is a tarantula that is owned by Billie Eilish. It is a Green Bottle Blue (Chromatopelma Cyaneopubescens), but not much else information is known about it.

Do tarantulas stink? ›

Yes, tarantulas can smell, just in a very different way than humans can. They can sense smells from the urticating hairs on their bodies.

Do tarantulas sleep? ›

Spiders do not sleep in the same way that humans do, but like us, they do have daily cycles of activity and rest. Spiders can't close their eyes because they don't have eyelids but they reduce their activity levels and lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy.

How smart is a tarantula? ›

Tarantulas are not very intelligent, but they possess enough mental abilities to navigate and survive their environment. What is this? The brains of a tarantula do not have a working memory. This means they can't remember things like we can – for example, places, things, or people.

Do spiders cuddle? ›

Scientists have discovered two arachnids that caress their young and snuggle together. While not usually considered paragons of tender, familial love, some spiders do have a touchy-feely side. Scientists have discovered two arachnids that caress their young and snuggle together.

Why are tarantulas so friendly? ›

Reason 1: Tarantulas Hardly Bite

This knowledge that they are highly unlikely to bite makes it easier to handle them, as there's not the same concern or worry as you may get with other species. However, that's not to say that they will never bite. It would foolish to believe that.

Do pet tarantulas recognize their owners? ›

Tarantulas Just Aren't That Into You

Spiders do have feelings, but unlike a dog or a cat, they won't bond with you. In fact, they likely won't even recognize you. They simply aren't hardwired to be companions to humans and should never be bought at pet stores, online, or anywhere else.

Are pet tarantulas poisonous? ›

Tarantulas give some people the creeps because of their large, hairy bodies and legs. But these spiders are harmless to humans (except for a painful bite), and their mild venom is weaker than a typical bee's. Among arachnid enthusiasts, these spiders have become popular pets.

Do tarantula bites hurt? ›

If a person gets bitten by a tarantula, the bite will probably feel a lot like a bee sting, with pain in the area of the bite. It will look like a bee sting, too, with redness and some swelling. Because the tarantula's venom (poison) is weak, it's unusual to have more severe reactions involving other parts of the body.

Can you hold a pet tarantula? ›

Tarantulas are fascinating exotic pets that are fairly easy to care for. While they look fearsome, however, they are surprisingly delicate. They can also leave a painful bite, and some species have irritating hairs. In general, tarantulas should only be observed, not picked up and handled.

Do tarantulas like music? ›

Answer is basic, loud vibrations cause Tarantulas to react differently in their habitats. If you play music loudly around them all the time then more than likely you are playing a factor into their erratic behavior or symptoms.

What is the friendliest tarantula? ›

Brazilian Black Tarantulas are one of the best beginner spiders. They are famous for their docile temperament. These spiders are really known for their temperament. While no tarantula should be held very often, this species is known for being one of the calmest and docile.

Do tarantulas feel love? ›

Currently, the consensus is that tarantulas do not have the brainpower or capacity to feel or process emotions, therefore they do not have the ability to feel happiness or love (or sadness, etc).

Do tarantulas scream? ›

Spiders cannot scream since they do not have vocal cords. However, to communicate with each other or threaten their predator, they make hissing and purring noises. This, they do, through a technique called stridulation. To accomplish this, a spider will rub its forelegs on its pedipalps or hairs on its legs.

Do pet tarantulas jump? ›

If you're defining "jumping" as the tarantula launching itself several inches or feet vertically up and down, that's not something that happens much. Tarantulas rarely jump vertically, but some do possess the ability to. Now, most tarantulas do jump, or rather leap, horizontally to quickly subdue their prey.

Why is my tarantula moving dirt? ›

Tarantulas start moving dirt when they want to make more or less space, especially in their hides. Some tarantulas move dirt in front of their hide when they are about to molt, want privacy, or want to hide from bright lights or if temperature or humidity are not optimal.

Do tarantulas poop? ›

Tarantulas do poop just as all animals do, but their poop is a bit different and can be missed if you do not know what to look for. Poop and pee come out of the same opening, just as with birds, and it has a resemblance of bird poop. Healthy tarantula poop looks like white oval-shaped drops.

Can tarantulas swim? ›

Tarantulas have been found to "swim" in both the wild and captivity, using their front legs as paddles to "row" on the surface of the water. They won't be deep diving, but they can paddle.

Do tarantulas sleep? ›

Spiders do not sleep in the same way that humans do, but like us, they do have daily cycles of activity and rest. Spiders can't close their eyes because they don't have eyelids but they reduce their activity levels and lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy.

Do tarantulas get bored? ›

Tarantulas, as well as other insects, do not become bored. This is because they don't have the brain complexity to feel the need to explore and seek new knowledge. When a tarantula isn't moving, it is simply content with having no threats to its survival.

How can you tell if a tarantula is male or female? ›

If you wait until your tarantula matures, sexing him or her will be easier. Mature males have a hook on the underside of their front leg. These hooks keep the female's fangs away from the male during mating. Mature males also have bulbs on their pedipalps, the two shorter, leg-like feelers located near their fangs.

Do tarantulas need heat lamps? ›

Heating. A temperature of 21-24°C is required for most of the tarantulas that you should buy as a beginner. If you have a centrally heated room which stays at that temperature all the time then you won't need extra heating during the winter, but you will between spring and autumn when the heating is switched off.

Videos

1. MEET all my FRIENDLY TARANTULAS !!! [Best beginner tarantula?]
(Exotics Lair)
2. TARANTULA VS JUMPING SPIDER - 10 Major Care Differences You Should Know!
(tarantula kat)
3. YOUR 1st Tarantula / What To Expect When YOU'RE Expecting a Spider
(Tarantula Collective)
4. How to take care and tips of a pet Tarantula
(Howcast)
5. How To Take Care Of Tarantulas
(Videojug)
6. TOP 5 BEGINNER TARANTULAS (I recommend)
(Jossers Jungle)

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