Your Questions about Tarantulas Answered

The world of tarantulas is vast, and each species has its own specificity and temperament and would deserve one or several articles. In this post aimed at tarantula dummies, I have gathered the most common Google searches about tarantulas. So without further ado, let’s give a straight answer to each one of them.

1. Are tarantulas good pets?

Yes, tarantulas are good pets…for spider lovers. In comparison to other types of animals — both caged and uncaged — tarantulas are low-maintenance creatures. These quiet and reserved spiders prefer isolation.

So they make great pets, as they don’t require baths, take up less space, and don’t require a lot of care. If you live a busy life, but your love for spiders is growing day by day, keeping a tarantula as a pet will be a good idea.

However, this doesn’t mean you completely neglect them. Like any other pet, you’ll need to keep their surroundings clean and check them to ensure they are healthy, but again, the amount of cleaning and care needed is minimal.

2. How much does a tarantula cost?

Tarantulas can cost anywhere from $20 to $200. How much tarantulas cost depends on several factors, such as their rarity, sex (females can be more expensive than males as they live much longer) species, and age.

For example, the Chilean Rose tarantula is pretty common and can be bought for $20 USD a sling, whereas the Brazilian Black tarantula is harder to breed and fetches $100 USD or more.

It also depends on where you purchase your pet tarantulas, as most websites charge different prices for the same type of spider.

So if you’re a new spider owner, start by purchasing a cheaper spider species, and once you get the hang of taking care of a tarantula, you can move on to buying more expensive and challenging species.

3. Are tarantulas aggressive to humans and other pets?

Movies and TV shows have given tarantulas a bad reputation, depicting them as fearsome predators. In reality, they are a very tame and docile species. They are non-aggressive to both humans and animals larger than themselves. When it comes to smaller animals such as crickets and worms, their aggressive side will come out.

Just don’t provoke them. If you do, they will feel threatened and will attack by releasing hairs and throwing them in your direction, which will result in an allergic reaction. In some instances, expect them to bite. However, unless you’re allergic to it, it will feel like a bee sting

Also, know that the venom of different tarantula species has different potencies with some being more painful than others. For first-time tarantula owners, choosing a tarantula with a less aggressive personality and weak venom will be a good choice.

4. Do all tarantulas behave the same way?

No, the behavior of tarantulas differs from species to species. Most of them have calm personalities and will react aggressively if threatened. Some are climbers, whereas others are burrowers.

They love playing hide and seek, taking shelter either in the ground or up a tree. When it comes to aggressiveness, they all have different triggers.

Moreover, some spiders are known for their strange behavior. Take the Chilean Rose Tarantula for example. They will burrow, fill their water bowl with dirt, and redecorate their habitat — if you decide to own one of them, don’t be offended to find that they decided to add their own personal touch to it.

5. Can I keep several Tarantulas in my terrarium?

Absolutely not. Tarantulas are a highly cannibalistic species that should not be kept in the same terrarium, regardless of gender. Even if they are the same species, you should keep them away from each other.

If you have a male and female tarantula, you have probably heard of stories where the female tarantula feasts on the male tarantula for nutrients, especially after mating. Well, those are true.

6. Why are tarantulas hairy?

Tarantulas are notorious for their hairy bodies. They have bristly hairs known as urticating hairs, which they use as a defense mechanism. They will flick their hair to prevent a threat from coming too close.

7. How long do tarantulas live as pets?

Female tarantulas of the Mexican Red Knee species can live up to 30 years, while most female tarantulas living between 15 and 25 years when kept in the right environment.

Male tarantulas only live up to 10 years with some species even less than that. If you’re a first-time tarantula owner, consider keeping a pet female tarantula over a male tarantula – a much better long-term investment.

8. What do tarantulas eat?

Tarantulas feast on live prey like crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, beetles, sowbugs, and caterpillars. Larger tarantulas have a bigger appetite, eating small snakes, bats, rodents, frogs, toads, and lizards.

This guide explains how to feed a pet spider and what are the best types of food for a tarantula.

9. How do you know if a tarantula is a male or female?

Female tarantulas are bigger and bulkier than male tarantulas. Some common characteristics of female tarantulas include broader fangs. Identifying a tarantula’s gender for a beginner not familiar with tarantulas will be a little difficult, especially if they are young.

It’s easier to tell if the tarantula is a male or female once they mature. A mature male tarantula will have a hook on the base of its front leg. These hooks prevent the female tarantula from eating a male tarantula during the mating process.

A mature male tarantula also has bulbs on its two shorter leg-like feelers found near its fangs. If you want to identify the gender of your tarantula sooner, examine their molted skin. It needs to be a recently molted skin, as it contains some moisture in it to prevent it from cracking and breaking.

Examine it by smoothing the part of the skin where the abdomen would be. You’ll see four white spots and between them a crease. If you see a roundish bump, congrats, you have a female tarantula. If no bump, congrats, you have a male tarantula.

10. Why do tarantulas molt?

Tarantulas molt to shed off their exoskeletons and grow bigger in size. When a spider begins to molt, it will lose its appetite and clear fluid will ooze from its leg joints. It will lie on its back, appearing dead, but don’t be alarmed, as it’s ready to molt.

You may find webbing around its body. Whatever you do, let it molt in peace. Interrupting your tarantula’s molting process can result in its death.

Video Source: Tarantulapedia

Young tarantulas will molt once a month while older tarantulas will molt each year or every two years. It will take your pet tarantula anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours to molt and shed its old skin.

12. How do you hold a tarantula?

The two popular methods of handling your tarantula include the cupping and free-hand method with the lesser popular method being the pinching method.

The cupping or palming method involves using your hand to quickly cup your tarantula in your palm.

For the free-hand method, only pick up your tarantula if it is full and relaxed.

Regardless, don’t hold the tarantula more than 12 inches from the ground below it when handling it, as a fall can injure or kill it. Either use this method to handle your tarantula above a table or while sitting on the ground.

The pinching method involves gently squeezing the tarantula’s two rear legs together but is not recommended, as you may not have an idea of the amount of pressure you’re placing, causing the spider to become defensive.

We have written this thorough article on how to hold a tarantula properly so that you don’t ever get bitten, have a read if you want to know more about the subject.

13. What environment do I need to keep a tarantula as a pet?

You can keep your tarantula in either a 5- or 10-gallon terrarium with a locking closure, placing it in an area of your home with an average temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For the bedding, get a few inches of sterilized substrate.

Accessorize with plants, rocks, and a hollowed log. Don’t place decoration pieces at the top of the terrarium because your tarantula may make a dash for it when you open it.

14. Why do some tarantulas dance?

Funny thing is that no one knows exactly why tarantulas dance, but there have been educated guesses.

It’s said that they dance to lay their web down so they can listen for any incoming threats while they eat a meal. Since they are busy eating, the web helps them sense vibrations in their surroundings.

15. How fast can a tarantula run?

Tarantulas can run at a speed of up to 10 miles per hour. The Journal of Experimental Biology tested the speeds of Texas brown tarantulas, concluding that they run faster in hotter temperatures. They run 2.5 times faster at a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

The reason for tarantulas’ temperature sensitivity is their eight legs. They are not controlled by muscles, but by hemolymph, a hydraulic fluid, which is sensitive to temperature and flows through their appendages, causing them to extend and flex.

16. How far can a tarantula jump?

Actually, tarantulas are not jumpers. Tarantulas, if they jumped, would be jumping to their death. A fall of even 2 to 3 feet can seriously injure and possibly kill them. However, tarantulas can lunge 3 to 4 centimeters when targeting their prey.

But there’s an exception to this as well — some South American tree-dwelling tarantulas, such as the pink toe tarantula, can jump moderate distances whereas North American tarantulas don’t jump at all.

Eddie Chevrel

I am Eddie, animal journalist and founder of ThePetSavvy. I am passionate about exotic pets and I dedicate my time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals.

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