The Reality of Pet Tarantulas

Many pets are rumored to be low-maintenance, but tarantulas truly are a low maintenance pet. Still, they may not be the perfect pet for you. Let’s take a close look at their requirements and some other important information you need to know before choosing these spiders as your next pet.

First, do not expect to be able to carry around your pet or to let it rest on your shoulder. Tarantulas can die from a short fall if their abdomen ruptures, so great care must be taken when handling one. It is NOT a good idea to hold a tarantula on a regular basis, and you should definitely not carry it around on your body.

Habitat. Tarantulas spend most of their time in small enclosed spaces, so small habitats are actually best. A good rule is to use a habitat 3 to 4 times the size of the spider when its legs are extended. A large habitat will actually cause unneeded stress to the tarantula. Include structures for the spider go climb over and hide in, and a secure water dish and It will be a happy spider. Also, make sure the lid is secure, as tarantulas can be quite strong.

Care & Feeding. Tarantulas require very little care. Keep the habitat humid (specific humidity percentages vary with species, but is usually 40-60% for desert species and more than 70% for tropical species). Food needs to be offered once per week, and yes, tarantulas eat live food. The majority of their diet will need to be insects (crickets, mealworms, etc.) Rodents like mice can be fed to tarantulas, but should not be the bulk of its diet.

Lifespan. Female tarantulas can live up to 20 years! Make sure this is a pet you really want to keep for a long time. Tarantulas are long-term commitments.

Research. It is always wise to research your particular pet (and species) so you’ll take care to keep it healthy and safe. As one example, female tarantulas molt about once per year. When they do this, they will flip onto their side or onto their back. The spider isn’t dying (a dying tarantula will often curl its legs under itself), and it should not be touched while on its back. After the spider molts, which can take a few hours, it is extremely fragile and should not be handled for at least a week.

Variety. There are several species of tarantulas, some more aggressive than others and some requiring more care than others. It’s always best to research the type you’re interested in. Be sure it’s the right one for you.

Many people fear spiders and tarantulas, but in all honestly, you’re more of a danger to the animal than it is to you! If you’re interested in a pet that’s very low maintenance, one that will require little if any physical contact, but is great fun to watch, then a tarantula might just be the right pet for you.

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