Basic Tarantula care sheet; housing, food and handling

How to properly handle a tarantula

Are you looking into buying a new pet Tarantula? We have made this basic Tarantula care sheet for you.

Here you will find a list of the basic things you need to consider in order to provide a suitable home for your new pet Tarantula.

Basic Tarantula care sheet

Basic tarantula care sheet

 

What type of housing should I provide for my tarantula?

Size

  • Length– at least 3 times the tarantula’s leg span
  • Width – at least 2 times the tarantula’s leg span
  • Height – length of the tarantula for terrestrial (ground) dwellers and at least 10 times the length of the tarantula for arboreal (tree) dwellers.

Depending on the size of your tarantula, you can use a 5 – 10 inch (20 gallon aquarium) tank.

A large terrarium provides enough space for your tarantula to express normal behavior. The bigger the tank the better.

Tarantulas can climb on the wall on the tank, therefore the tank should have a lid to prevent the tarantula from escaping.

Substrate

The substrate should be a soft absorbent material that the tarantula can burrow in and make a web.

Use vermiculite or soil to cover the bottom of the tank. These can be covered with coconut coir or forest moss.

You can also use compost as the substrate. This, however, needs to be sterilized and changed more regularly.

Provide 2 to 4 inches of substrate for your tarantula depending on their species.

Terrestrial species who are burrowers need deep substrate while arboreal species need shallow substrate.

Avoid gravel as it tends to be harsh on tarantula’s body.

Read this article on the best tarantula substrate available in the market to find out more.

Decorations

You can add optional decorations such as plants, rocks, vines or shells to make the enclosure look natural.

Arrange the decorations in a way that they will not fall on your tarantula.

Provide a hiding area for your tarantula using either caves or half logs. These are available in pet stores.

Heating

Tarantulas live in warm areas. They require temperatures of between 70°F and 85°F.

During winter a heating system is required.

You can use ceramic heaters, whole room heaters or under tank heaters such as heating pads or underground heating cables. Choose a heating system depending on your tank size.

Alternatively, you can use a seed propagator that is available in garden stores.

Keep a thermometer in the tank to monitor the temperature of the tank.

Humidity

Maintain the humidity of your tarantula’s tank at between 50 and 70%.  To measure the humidity, use an accurate humidity gauge.

To maintain the humidity, keep the substrate dump. Alternatively you can use a plant (mister) humidifier. Clean the plant mister thoroughly in case they had been used with fertilizers or other chemicals.

Maintaining the right humidity is important as your tarantula may not survive molting in dry conditions.

Lighting

Tarantulas are nocturnal (active at night). They require no additional light.

Keep your tarantula in a dark area of the house away from direct sunlight.

To observe your tarantula at night, use a nocturnal or infrared light.

What should I feed my tarantula?

Diet

Tarantulas are nocturnal carnivores that eat a wide variety of insects in the wild.

Feed your tarantula on a diet of gut filled crickets supplemented with other insects such as roaches, grasshoppers, houseflies, meal worms or moths.

Supplement bigger tarantulas with pinky mice, small lizards, small birds or frogs.

Feeding

To feed your tarantula, drop the cricket using a pair of round nosed forceps into the tank near your tarantula.

Do not use your hands to feed your tarantula as they are snappy eaters. You may be bitten.

Feed your tarantula in the evening or early morning when they are most active.

Remove any uneaten or left-over food within 24 hours of feeding

Water

Provide a constant clean supply of water for your tarantula.

Place a water bowl in a cool area of the tarantula tank. Use a shallow bowl as your tarantula may fall into the bowl and drown.

You may add pebbles into the water bowl to provide support for your tarantula.

Change the water daily and clean the water bowl regularly.

Breeding crickets for tarantulas

You may have to breed crickets to have a constant supply of food for your tarantula.

Buy your first batch of crickets from a reliable pet store as they may a source of disease for your tarantula.

Feed the crickets on nutritious meals to meet the dietary requirements of your tarantula. You may even dust the crickets with vitamin supplements prior to feeding your tarantula.

Handling

Tarantulas require no handling unless they are being moved. They are not suitable for owners who prefer pets they can handle.

Tarantulas are docile animals and some species can be handled easily. We however do not recommend handling of tarantulas unless it is really necessary.

How can I move my tarantula?

To move your tarantula, gently coax the tarantula into a small container then move them.

Some owners handle tarantulas with their hands, but I do not advocate for this method.

You may risk being bitten or worse your tarantula may fall off your hands which can be fatal.

Read this article on how to handle a tarantula. 

Are tarantulas dangerous?

All tarantulas are venomous. They use their venom to immobilize and digest prey.

Tarantula venom is milder than a honeybee’s sting. It does not cause serious systemic effects on man though very painful.

Some individuals may however be allergic to chemicals found in tarantula venom which may lead to serious health risks.

Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by a Tarantula.

Tarantulas release urticulating hairs as first line of defense which causes irritation in eyes and mucous membranes.

Wash your hands after handling a tarantula using your hands to avoid getting these hairs into your eyes.

How do I manage my tarantula during molting

During molting, your tarantula lies on his or her back and maintains the position for hours.

Stop feeding your tarantula when you notice they are in molt. Start feeding them again when sure that they have completed molting.

Feeding them at this stage may lead to them damaging their delicate fangs.

Remove any live prey from the tarantula tank as they could possibly injure your tarantula.

Recommended species

We recommend the following species for beginner tarantula owners.

  1. Chilean rose (Grammostola spatulatus)
  2. Curly Haired (Brachypelma albopilosa)
  3. White Collared (Pterinopelma saltator)
  4. Mexican blood leg (Aphonopelma bicoloratum)
  5. Red Rump (Brachypelma vagans)
  6. Mexican red knee (Brachypelma smithi)
  7. Mexican Fire Leg (Brachypelma boehmei)

There are several species of tarantulas which are kept as pets. Research more on each species so as to find the right one for you.

We recommend terrestrial dwellers for new tarantula owners as they are easier to handle unlike the more agile tree dweller.

 

 

 

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