YOU WANT TO KEEP... TARANTULAS.
1: Think before you buy
do you want a tarantula? Do you have the time and patience to look after
it? If you are not fully committed you must not keep a tarantula.
are very basically two kinds of tarantula. Tree dwelling and ground
dwelling. Tree dwellers need to be kept in tall enclosures but ground
dwellers must be kept in lower ones. Some ground dwellers stay on the
surface, others require deep burrows. Spiders require some kind of
hideaway away from the light. They should never be exposed to sunlight.
3: Temperature and humidity
originate from warm climates. As a general rule they should be kept at
approximately 75—85F. Scrubland tarantulas should have a humidity
level of between 60 and 75% and rainforest species should be 75-90%
can be raised in an enclosure by adding more water for example by
humidity is too high then cease introducing any water for a period of
time (possibly days) until the level has come down. No enclosure should
ever be 100% humidity. This
would be too wet, encourage mould and kill the spider.
are invertebrates—they have no backbone. As a result they must
continually shed their skin (moult) in order to grow. They will moult at
least five or
six times in the first two years then slow down to perhaps once every
year. Prior to moulting (this could be days or weeks) your spider will behave differently. It will stop eating and
will appear sluggish...
On some spiders, the abdomen will become dark—this is the new skin underneath. Minutes before the spider moults it will flip over onto its back or (rarely) moult standing up. To all purposes it looks dead but this is a critical time and THE TARANTULA MUST NOT BE DISTURBED AT ALL OR IT MAY DIE! The spider will shed the old skin within hours, then flip over again. It will not eat for a few days after so do not attempt to feed it. Simply leave it alone for a week. Do not keep shining torchlight at it because tarantulas generally hate the light. Remember to check the heat and humidity levels. If, after a day or two it is possible to remove the cast skin carefully then do so. A tarantula can be sexed by experts (see the BTS site for details) from its cast skin.
golden rule is that you must not over-feed your
is sufficient to feed most tarantulas on crickets and/or locusts. Only
the very large species (like the Goliath bird eater (theraphosa
blondi) should be
many spiders will take vertebrate prey. Note that in UK it is illegal to
feed live mice to spiders.
The abdomen should not be more than twice the size of the carapace. If it is, the spider is overfed and this could affect it during a moult. Spiders can go without food for days, weeks and sometimes months. Feeding your spider once or twice a week should be sufficient.
top tip for handling is...don’t! Apart from the fact that the spider
may bite, or flick urticating (itchy) hairs at you it is possible that
you may drop the animal, and kill it. As with fish—they do not need to
be handled but can be enjoyed just by being observed. Some people have a
nasty allergic reaction to spider bites, so be smart!
is what you put in an enclosure for the spider to stand on: in other
words, its ground. There is
no exact answer to what is best but a general guide would be about three
or four inches of Vermiculite and/or Irish moss peat available from
garden centres. Never use
gravel or real plants such as cacti which could harm the spider.
The beauty of keeping tarantulas is they require very little maintenance. . Dead insect prey should be removed daily. Spiders excrete a liquid which evaporates over time but any marks on the tank can be cleaned off. Do not keep destroying the spiders web as this will only stress the animal. Tarantulas can harbour mites which are generally introduced by crickets. These are not harmful to humans but if there is an explosion in numbers the enclosure must be thoroughly cleaned out with warm water. Do not use chemicals of any kind. I do not recommend live plants in the terrarium. It is possible they can also harbour fly and other insect eggs.
are loners and must never
be housed together. They will fight and could kill each other.
9: Loss of limbs
new to tarantulas become horrified if their prized pet loses a leg or
two. Don’t panic! Tarantulas (and all
spiders) have the ability to re-grow their lost appendages over a period
of moults. They have an in built ability to stop blood flow so they
don’t bleed to death if a leg comes off. Note this is not the same for
the abdomen or carapace.
10: Purchasing tarantulas
Do you buy wild caught or captive bred tarantulas? I recommend only captive bred because they should be healthy and free of mites and parasites. Also it is illegal to collect certain species from the wild. An example is the Mexican Red Knee (Brachypelma smithi) Ask pet shops where they got their spiders from before you buy. Also be wary of tarantulas that are all curled up and don’t move much as they are probably ill and not worth buying.
further information from:
the BTS and enjoy the benefits. There is a quarterly journal, BTS
website with special members only area, an annual tarantula exhibition
where you can bring and buy specimens. Also there is an excellent
opportunity to chat to like minded people about your hobby.
to head office for further information:
Tarantula Society Committee
the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we
understand. We will understand only what we are taught".