Tarantulas are a unique and fascinating pet that can make an excellent addition to any family. They have been kept as pets for centuries, and they are becoming increasingly popular today.
Tarantulas belong to the Theraphosidae family of spiders, which includes more than 900 species. They come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, so there is sure to be one that fits your needs.
Tarantulas are arachnids that are native to the Americas and Europe, and are usually found in tropical climates. The only ones we’ll be discussing here will be new world Tarantulas (ones from the Americas, because they’re far less aggressive and dangerous as pets). They are not venomous, and are relatively harmless to humans.
Tarantulas are relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for first time pet owners. They require minimal space and can be kept in a terrarium or aquarium with proper ventilation. Tarantulas should be fed live insects such as crickets, mealworms, and waxworms.
Tarantulas are very docile animals, and are generally considered safe for children, as long as they’re not holding them. They are also very easy to care for. They don’t require much food, and will eat insects and smaller living food.
Tarantulas are also very quiet, and won’t disturb you while you’re sleeping. You can even leave them alone for several days without worrying about them getting out of control.
Tarantulas can be many different colors, including black, brown, red, yellow, orange. You can find them in a number of different pet stores near you. Depending on the species of Tarantula you are after, some will cost as little as $25, and rarer species will run as high as $150!
Tarantulas make great family pets because they are relatively docile and don’t require a lot of attention. They’re low maintenance and don’t require a lot of cleaning or upkeep.
In conclusion, Tarantulas are a great choice for first time pet owners who want something unique and interesting. They require minimal space and care, and they make great family pets. So if you’re looking for an unusual pet that is low maintenance and full of personality, then a tarantula might be just what you’re looking for.
- Average Length: 5 to 8 inches
- Average Weight: Less than 20 ounces
- Skin Appearance: Hairy with or without striped color patterns
- Skin Colors: Black and red; Light brown and tan
- Grooming Needs: Low
- Shedding: Several times before adulthood
- Sensitive to Touch: No
- Biting Tendency: Yes
- Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No
- Good Pet: Depends on individual species
- Safe with Children: No
- Good with Other Pets: No
- Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
- Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
- Weight Gain: Normal
- Health Concerns: Abdominal Fractures, Dehydration, and Problems Molting
- Average Life Span: 5 to 20 years (females live longer)
Physical Appearance of Tarantulas
Tarantulas are a group of large hairy spiders. They have 8 legs, an abdomen and a cephalothorax – a term used for the fused head and chest of spiders. Their legs, eyes, mouth and fangs are attached to the cephalothorax.
Tarantulas have spinnerets (the silk producing organs on spiders) at the end of their abdomen. They also are able to produce silk from the ends of their feet to help them climb on slippery surfaces like glass.
It’s not too difficult to tell male and female Tarantulas apart. Male Tarantulas tend to be thinner and shorter lengthwise than females.
There are over 1,000 species of Tarantulas and they have a wide range of different appearances. Some have vibrant colors while others are plain or have striped patterns. The most popular Tarantula species kept as pets are:
Temperament of Tarantulas
The temperament of the Tarantulas varies based on the individual species. Most western species are calm and don’t get aggressive but Tarantulas as a group don’t like being handled. Eastern Tarantulas have a completely different mentality and are for the most part extremely aggressive. Because the eastern Tarantulas are so aggressive we will only focus on western varieties for family pets. They can also be called New World or Old World Tarantulas, and if you want to know more about them we have an article here.
As mentioned earlier, Tarantulas don’t like to be handled. The Mexican Redlegs and Mexican Red Knee are an exception because they allow their owners to handle them.
Tarantulas are nocturnal and will spend most of their day sleeping. They will only become active when hunting prey, usually during the evening. They move slowly and are docile pets.
Tarantulas have urticating hair on their bodies. These are bristle-like defense mechanisms that they release when they feel threatened. The urticating hairs can lodge in the skin of other animals and humans. While it will not cause a serious injury, the urticating hair can cause skin and eye irritations in humans.
Tarantulas should be handled with extreme care because some species can bite if threatened. Their bites are venomous, but most Tarantulas species venom is similar in strength to that of a bee or wasp. Tarantula bites will usually cause slight pain, swelling or redness where you are bitten. Only a few Tarantula species have highly venomous bites that can make their owners sick or kill them.
Their Compatibility with Children
Children should not be allowed to handle Tarantulas. The skin irritation caused by the Tarantula’s hair and their painful bites can be harmful to children. Children should wash their hands if they interact with your Tarantula or their cage. Washing their hands should remove any urticating hairs that they could have come in contact with.
Living Space for Tarantulas
Tarantulas are not social pets and should be housed alone. Their cage should be secured with a lid to keep them from escaping. Use a lid that is well ventilated so fresh air can get inside their cage.
A glass or plastic aquarium can be an ideal enclosure for spiders. Other good choices are a glass or plastic cage. Whatever you go with, the tank should be placed in a quiet location. Too much noise can be stressful for your Tarantulas.
The cage size will vary based on the Tarantula species you have. For ground-dweller Tarantulas the cage should be at least three times the length of their legs. The width should be at least double the length of their legs and height that is taller than their leg span.
A 5 gallon or 10 gallon tank should be large enough for your Tarantula. A larger tank is not recommended because it will make it difficult for your spider to hunt for food. Some of the best cages for ground dwellers are the same ones that are made for reptiles. We’ve found that reptile terrarium tanks make great homes.
For tree-dwelling Tarantula species the length and width should be the same as it is for land-dwelling species. The only difference is in the height of their cage. The height of the cage should be around one foot. This height will let you add branches inside their tank and give your Tarantula room to climb.
Substrate and Decorations
The bottom of the tank can be lined with a layer of vermiculite or a mixture of potting soil and vermiculite. Vermiculite is spongy and absorbs moisture very well. You’ll want 2 to 4 inches deep in the enclosure to allow your spider to burrow.
If you have a species that likes to climb, branches should be added that they can climb. This is optional for ground-dwelling Tarantulas but it is important for Tarantulas that like to climb.
Create hiding spots by using cork, a hollow log or a clay flower pot. It’s possible to get really creative if making decorations is your thing. The main thing is that your Tarantula feels safe in their hiding spot
Best Climate for Tarantulas
The climate needs of individual Tarantula species can differ from one another. Refer to the specific species articles to find out about any specific climate needs of your Tarantula species before setting up their tank.
Tarantulas are nocturnal insects and don’t need additional lighting equipment. If you want to observe them at night you can set up some LED lighting on the lid for their cage. You’ll want to keep the lighting dim so that it doesn’t disturb them too much.
The enclosure you set up shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight because it is bad for your Tarantula. Tarantulas are cold blooded and can’t regulate their body temperature on their own. Exposing them to sunlight can overheat them, without them even realizing why its happening. Their cage should be kept in a location that doesn’t receive direct sunlight.
Tarantulas usually don’t need special equipment like heat lamps because they do well with lower temperatures than other insects. The best temperature range for them is between 69.5°F and 75°F. If your home is colder than 70°F, use an under-tank heat pad to keep the temperature warm enough for them. Heat lights should not be used because they can dry their cage. Most Tarantulas can handle much warmer environments during the summer, but don’t let their cage get past 95°F
Some Tarantulas need high humidity above 60% and there are several ways to keep the humidity high. Misting the tank regularly is one of the easiest ways. Plants kept in their enclosure like mosses that retain moisture, or a substrate like vermiculite which holds moisture very well. A hygrometer in their cage will let you can keep an eye on the humidity level.
The Attention a Tarantula Needs
Tarantulas don’t need a lot of attention. They only need a few hours of your time every week to feed them and make sure that their humidity is good.
Handling Tarantulas is not recommended because most Tarantulas have urticating hairs that they can release when they feel threatened. This hair can cause skin irritation. If the hair gets into your eyes, it can lead to serious inflammation. For safety, avoid rubbing your eyes after feeding them or doing anything with their enclosure. Always wash your hands after interacting with your spider or doing anything with their cage.
As we mentioned before some Tarantula species can bite if they feel threatened. Most Tarantula species should only be observed and not held. The only time you should handle your spider is to move them so you can clean their cage. While cleaning, carefully move them inside a container rather than moving them with your bare hands.
Common health issues in Tarantulas:
Insect abdominal fractures are a very common injury in both wild and domestic insects. Common causes of abdominal fractures include physical trauma like being stepped on, falling from too high, or being hit by an object. Other causes of abdominal fractures in insects can be due to the presence of disease or parasites that weaken their exoskeleton.
Symptoms of Insect Abdominal Fractures
Insect abdominal fractures can be quite difficult to identify, but there are several signs to look out for. One of the most obvious symptoms is hemorrhaging or bleeding from the area of the fracture. A fractured insect can appear to be immobile or lethargic, and could also have difficulty walking. In cases where the fracture is more severe, the insect might have signs of paralysis.
Insects are particularly susceptible to dehydration because their bodies are made up mostly of water. In order to survive in an arid environment, they must be able to conserve water and stop it from evaporating out of their bodies. To hold onto water, insects have several strategies for dealing with dehydration.
First and foremost, many insects have developed thick cuticle layers that help reduce the amount of water that is lost through evaporation. This cuticle layer is often made up of waxes, oils and other substances that act as a barrier to prevent water loss.
Insects also have mechanisms for controlling their water intake. Some insects are able to regulate their water intake by closing off the opening in their trachea when environmental conditions become too dry. This helps stop the insect from becoming dehydrated.
Oral nematodes are a group of parasitic worms that feed on the tissues of insects. They are typically found in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach, as well as other internal organs. There are hundreds of species of these nematodes, which vary in size and shape. While most species are harmless to humans and other animals, some can pose a serious threat to crops and livestock. Some species of insect oral nematodes are known to be vectors for a number of diseases, including Bartonella, Onchocerca volvulus, and Thelazia californiensis.
Symptoms of Insect Oral Nematodes
Symptoms of Oral Nematodes vary depending on the species of nematode present. Generally, infected insects will have irritation and inflammation in their mouth, esophagus and stomach, which can lead to problems eating or drinking. More severe cases of infection can cause the insect to become lethargic and anemia caused by blood loss from the parasites. In some cases, the infection can even be fatal.
Molting is a process where insects shed their exoskeleton in order to grow and develop. While this process is integral for insect survival, it can also cause some major problems. Insects can have molting problems due to environmental factors, diet or genetics. These issues can lead to incomplete molts, malformations, developmental delays and even death.
Incomplete molts are a common molting problem. If an insect does not shed its exoskeleton completely, the new one can become stuck. As a result, the insect will not be able to grow or develop properly. In some cases, the old exoskeleton may even suffocate the insect if it’s not removed quickly enough.
Diet can also play a role in molting problems. An inadequate or unbalanced diet can cause the insect to be unable to molt properly. Some insects are sensitive to certain foods or chemicals and these substances can interfere with the molting process.
Genetics can also cause molting issues. Some insects have genetic mutations that can cause malformations or developmental delays. These issues can lead to problems during the molting process and can even be fatal if the insect is unable to shed its exoskeleton completely or in time.
General Tarantula Care
There is not much that needs to be done to care for Tarantulas. Uneaten food should be removed daily and their enclosure should be spot cleaned every other day. The entire enclosure should be cleaned thoroughly and the bedding changed about once every six months.
Feeding A Tarantula
Tarantulas are carnivores and should be fed live prey. Their primary diet should consist of crickets and can be complemented by other insects like super worms, roaches and mealworms. Large Tarantulas can be fed pinkie mice or small lizards.
We recommend gut-loading insects before feeding them to your Tarantulas. Gut-loading involves feeding nutritious food to the insects that are fed to them. The nutrient then passes on to your Tarantula when they eat the insects.
The size of the insects you feed them should be smaller than your Tarantula’s body. The prey should be dropped inside their enclosure. Don’t drop several insects inside their cage at once because the insects could bite and injure your Tarantula. Remove whatever is uneaten after 10 minutes so that their food can’t injure your spider if it’s not hungry.
Adult spiders should be fed once a week and younger spiders can be fed every one to two days. The ideal feeding time is during the evening because that is when they are most active.
A water bowl should be placed inside their cage. Clean the water bowl and replace the water daily.
Are Tarantulas Legal to Keep as Pets?
Tarantulas are legal to keep in the United States, except for Hawaii. The state of Hawaii has placed a ban on owning or transporting several exotic pets including Tarantulas.
What Tarantula Species are Best for Beginners?
There are over 1,000 Tarantula species. Beginner pet owners should look for a Tarantula that is calm and doesn’t bite. These include Mexican Red-Knee, Chilean Rose, Curly Hair and Pink Toe Tarantulas.
What do I do if My Tarantula Bites Me?
As mentioned before the bites of Tarantulas are venomous and can cause mild reactions like swelling or pain. Sometimes it can lead to blood poisoning. The best thing to do is to visit your doctor.
Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.