Updated: Sep 25
Photographed above- Brachypelma hamorii, Mexican Red Knee Tarantula.
Tarantulas- the 8 legged invertebrate that most people fear; are actually one of the best pets to own and I'll tell you why.
I'm going to break this down into different sections- I'll be discussing housing, feeding, handling and any other bits of information that is important when looking to purchase one of these incredible creatures.
There are over 300 species of Tarantula that have been discovered across the globe. Each species will have its own specific requirements depending on where its from and how it is found living in the wild.
Tarantulas found in the eastern hemisphere (continents of Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia) are commonly referred to as Old World Tarantulas. Old World species of tarantulas are known to be a lot faster than New World species- and their venom can definitely pack more of a punch! Old world species aren't recommended for first time Tarantula keepers because of this reason.
Tarantulas found in the western hemisphere (continents of North and South America, including the Central American region) are commonly known as New World Tarantulas. Many species of New World Tarantulas have something called urticating hairs - these hairs are tiny little bristles found on the tarantulas abdomen. As a main defence mechanism they are often known to kick these little hairs off of their abdomens towards predators to deter them. A super effective way of protecting themselves, and will only cause slight irritation to humans.
There are 3 main Tarantula genera we recommend to beginner Tarantula keepers- these are Brachypelma, Grammostola and Tlitocatl. If you are looking at purchasing for yourself, or even for someone else- we recommend at looking at Tarantulas in either of these three genera. There are multiple different species that would be perfect for someone wanting to start in the hobby.
Tarantulas are incredibly low maintenance pets, they don't require much to live a long and healthy life. We grow our tarantulas up in plastic tubs (with air holes of course) so as the tarantula gets bigger, the tub size increases. We would then put our tarantulas into their adult glass tank when they are of an appropriate size. Tarantulas don't like too much space- this can cause them more stress and refusal of food if we are not able to provide them with adequate areas to hide in. This is why growing the size of the enclosure up with the tarantula is a safe way to ensure your tarantula eats well and grows well.
Tarantulas do require some sort of a heat source so a heat mat provides more than enough heat for what we need it for. We always recommend putting this at the back or to the side of the enclosure. Different species require different enclosures- some tarantulas are arboreal, terrestrial or fossorial. This would be a topic of discussion depending on which species you go for, we are always more than willing to help with what kind of set-up would be more ideal for your animal.
Tarantula's are incredibly cheap animals to feed as they really don't require much feeding! As slings we look at potentially feeding once, maybe twice as week. As they get bigger we tend to tell if they need feeding by the size of their abdomen. If their abdomen is nice and full and round then we don't need to feed them. If there abdomen starts becoming more oval shaped and smaller then we can attempt feeding.
During a pre-moult a tarantula will usually refuse feeds, during this time their abdomen can become larger and look shiny. During this process we tend to leave them alone as they are preparing to moult. Once they have moulted their exoskeletons need time to harden back up again- so we usually leave them a week or two (depending on the size of the tarantula) until we offer food again.
There are an option of live foods we can feed to our tarantulas- things like fruit flies, crickets, locusts and Dubai roaches are our go to when it comes to feeding!
When it comes to cleaning tarantulas you would probably only look at doing a full clean every 6 months! Making their maintenance work one of the easiest! Most species of tarantulas also don't require much in regards to things like décor. They are more so used for aesthetics. Some dirt, a hiding place and some plants usually do the trick making the cleaning of their enclosure even easier!
As a shop, we don't advocate for handling of tarantulas. More so for the safety of the tarantula than anything else. Tarantulas are filled with a fluid called haemolymph fluid. Their abdomens are very fragile- we like to think of them as water balloons. As the tarantula and their abdomen gets bigger, the risk of their abdomen splitting from a fall increases. Especially the bigger bodies species. If you were to handle your tarantula and it fell from a height to cause damage to the abdomen, it can unfortunately cause death upon them.
As well as this, every tarantula has venom. Some species being more potent, some species not so bad. Now the only way to ever know how you are going to have a reaction to their venom is unfortunately if you were to get bitten by one. Some can be similar to that of a bee sting, some can cause anaphylactic shock, depending on if you are allergic or not- there is no way of knowing beforehand.
Handling tarantulas is a risk that we are not prepared to take. However, what you do with your animal when you get it home is out of our control. We can only ever recommend taking extra precautions if you are wanting to handle your tarantula and be aware of the risks.
Tarantulas don't need regular health checks- there are very minimal risks for diseases and infections that they could potentially get. Saving you on all of those vet bills! Wild Caught specimens are more likely to carry things such as parasites, however, captive bred specimens are far less likely.
If you want to know more about tarantulas, or are interested in purchasing your first tarantula, please do not hesitate to pop in or contact the store for more information!