EXOTIC PETS

Tarantula as a Pet: Understanding and Caring for this Eight-Legged Insect

Tarantulas are mysterious creatures with eight legs and venomous bites, making them intriguing pets. Watching them move requires a relatively small space, and their straightforward care makes tarantulas appealing to pet owners. However, it’s important to note that tarantulas might not be the best choice if you’re looking for a pet you can handle due to their venomous bites.

Types of Tarantulas and Choosing a Pet

In the Theraphosidae family, there are approximately 1,000 tarantula species. One popular choice for a pet is the Chilean Rose Tarantula (Grammostola rosea), a robust spider originating from Chile that is generally easy to care for. As a pet, tarantulas require an enclosure suitable for their natural habitat, along with live prey.

Tarantula
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Behavior and Temperament of Tarantulas

Tarantulas suitable for beginners are often ground-dwelling, such as the curly-haired tarantula. They tend to move more slowly, making handling easier. The Pink Toe Tarantula is also mentioned as suitable for arboreal placement, although not necessarily the best choice for beginners. Generally, tree-dwelling species are more challenging to care for due to their quick and agile movements, making handling difficult.

Tarantulas are solitary creatures by nature. Handling is not recommended unless necessary, such as when moving them from their enclosure for cleaning. In such cases, it’s better to coax them into a small container for transfer rather than using your hands.

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Enclosure Care for Tarantulas

Tarantulas have an average leg span of 5 to 8 inches, with females usually larger than males. They are not social animals and should be housed individually. Enclosures should have secure lids to prevent escape while providing adequate ventilation.

For ground-dwelling tarantulas, the enclosure length should be approximately three times the leg span and the width about twice the leg span. The height only needs to be around the same as the leg span. A 5-gallon aquarium is often suitable. An overly large enclosure can make prey harder to locate.

Tarantula Environmental Requirements

Species dwelling in trees need enclosures with a length three times the leg span, a width twice the leg span, and a height of about one foot. Include branches for climbing and nest-building.

Tarantulas also require hiding spots, such as pieces of cork bark, half-empty wooden logs, or half-clay flower pots attached to the enclosure’s side.

Free photo mexican red knee tarantula
image by freepik/master1305

Substrate and Nutrition for Tarantulas

Line the enclosure floor with a mixture of vermiculite, potting soil, and/or peat moss at a depth of two to four inches for shelter. Tarantula diets include crickets, Hong Kong beetles, superworms, cockroaches, small mice, and tiny lizards. Ensure crickets are fed nutritious food before offering them to tarantulas, and vitamin powder can be added.

Health and Common Tarantula Issues

Tarantulas are generally hardy, but some issues may arise. Oral nematodes, parasitic infections, and the molting process should be observed. During molting, tarantulas lose their appetite and need time to recover. Avoid feeding during molting and refrain from handling. If a tarantula appears sick, consult with an exotic animal veterinarian.

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Exercise and Maintenance Costs

Tarantulas have limited physical activity needs and don’t require much exercise. The primary costs involve food, ranging from $5 to $10 per month. Additional expenses include periodic substrate changes, approximately $10 to $20. Emergency care and annual check-ups by an exotic animal veterinarian should also be budgeted.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Tarantulas

Tarantulas are fascinating and calm pets, suitable for limited spaces. While low-maintenance, they may not be the ideal choice for those seeking cute and social pets. For individuals seeking active enjoyment, tarantulas may be less satisfying.

Alternative Exotic Pets

If you’re interested in tarantulas, consider:

  1. Emperor Scorpions
  2. Whistling Madagascar Cockroach
  3. Woodlice

Buying or Adopting Tarantulas

It’s advisable to buy tarantulas from reputable breeders or rescue groups to ensure good health. Prices range from $25 to $75, depending on the species. Avoid tarantulas that appear sick or lethargic.

Breeding and Reproduction of Tarantulas

For more information on breeding, local exotic veterinarians can help find reputable breeders or rescue groups. Avoid breeding tarantulas without sufficient knowledge and always keep tarantulas individually.

If you’re interested in exploring the world of tarantulas, prepare yourself with sufficient knowledge and patience. While not the best choice for those seeking warmth and companionship, tarantulas have their unique appeal. With proper care, enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of tarantulas as loyal and intriguing companions!

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