How to Breed And Sell Tarantulas | A Step-By-Step Guide

Once you get the hang of taking care of tarantulas – and maybe, getting very good at it, you might ask yourself “what if I start making a business of breeding and selling these creatures? How do you breed tarantulas in the first place?”

Before you get yourself into taking care of hundreds of tarantulas at a time, there are a few things you should know before you advertise yourself as a breeder.

So what does it take to breed tarantulas? In this post, we will cover all the steps, from determining if a tarantula is male or female to the actual mating process. You will learn how to make tarantulas reproduce in captivity and how to care for baby tarantulas.

Breeding Tarantulas – How Do You Know If a Tarantula Is Male or Female?

To be able to breed tarantulas, the first thing you need to know is how to differentiate a male from a female. There are several methods for determining the sex of a tarantula, including:

  • Sexing using molt
  • Ventral sexing
  • Sexual dimorphism

1. Sexing using molt

Examining the molt is one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a male and a female tarantula. However, you obviously need to wait until after the spider molts, like in this video.

Source: Exotics Lair

If possible, try to remove the molt from the habitat before it dries. The cast-off layer of skin called the exuvia includes the discarded sexual organs. If you’re not quick to remove the exuvia, the spider may destroy it.

Carefully spread out the abdominal skin and inspect the epigastric furrow. Spritzing the molt with a few sprays from a water bottle can help soften it and make it easier to examine.

Very carefully open the abdominal skin to the book lungs. If you see what looks like a flap with a pinkish color inside (called the spermatheca) you know you have a female.

2. Ventral Sexing

Ventral sexing requires you to pick up and hold your tarantula to examine its underside. Inspect the fold between the anterior book lungs called the epigastric furrow. Females have an opening, and males have a patch of hair.

The female opening is the gonoslit. The slit resembles a set of lips and is the opening towards the reproductive organs. The epiandrous fusillae are the small crescent-shaped set of micro spinnerets to create sperm webs.

Novice tarantula keepers may not want to handle the spider simply to check the sex. It’s also sometimes difficult to make out the gonoslit or the epiandrous fusillae if you haven’t seen these organs before.

3. Sexual dimorphism

The third method involves comparing the physical characteristics of mature tarantulas. After their final molts, male tarantulas look very different.

Males develop palpal bulbs at the end of their pedipalps and mating hooks. The pedipalps are the two shorter legs near the fangs. The palpal bulbs transfer sperm during copulation and resemble fleshy bulbous growths at the end of the little feelers.

After maturing, females also tend to grow much larger compared to males. The females are often bulkier, with broader jaws and thicker legs.

Tarantula Breeding: How Do Tarantulas Mate?

The small palpal bulbs on a male tarantula store sperm. During the mating season, the male charges its palps, spinning a small sperm web and depositing sperm into it.

After charging their palps, male tarantulas search for mates. They follow the pheromones produced by female tarantulas. When they find females, they court them. Unlike the males of many other species, male tarantulas don’t show aggression when they try copulating with the female.

Papal drumming

To court the female, males perform various movements, including papal drumming or body vibrations. With papal drumming, the male taps its pedipalps on the female’s silk threads. It may also produce high-frequency vibrations with its legs.

The movements let the female evaluate the male. If interested, the female may tap her front legs and direct the male toward her burrow, but it depends on the species. For example, you may find that the female simply crawls from her burrow and to the male.

Copulation

During copulation, the tarantulas face each other and extend their front legs. In most species of tarantula, the male has special spurs for grasping the fangs of the female. With both tarantulas in position, the male uses his charged palps, inserting them into the gonoslit.

Then the male discharges his sperm one to five times. With a single charge, a male may copulate with several females. The process leaves the female immobilized for a minute, giving the male a chance to leave quickly.

Watch that video by Tropical Discovery Workshops a perfect example of two mating Mexican Red-Knee.

Beware of Sexual cannibalism

It’s important for the male to leave instead of sticking around, as female tarantulas may engage in sexual cannibalism. However, this also depends on the species. For example, Mexican red-knee tarantulas don’t perform this ritual in the wild.

In some cases, female tarantulas cannibalize males before they even mate. In fact, some females may start eating males while still virgins to fatten up, as males contain important nutrients.

Cannibalism is more common in captivity when the two spiders remain together for too long after copulation. In some species, the male dies either way. Male Arizona blond tarantulas rarely live more than a few months after mating.

Whether your female tarantula is prone to sexual cannibalism, it’s a good idea to separate the male and female immediately after copulation. Here is another video from Exotic Lair that will drive the point home.

Tarantula Breeding: How Do You Make Tarantulas Reproduce?

To make tarantulas reproduce, you first need to ensure that you have a mature pair of tarantulas. Remember to follow the sexing methods discussed, looking for palpal bulbs and mating hooks on the males and a flap of skin and a slit on the females.

Preparing the habitat for reproduction

You will need two habitats or containers for the mating process, a bigger one and a smaller one. The smaller container should fit inside the larger one.

Place the female in the bigger habitat, ensuring that the tarantula habitat has everything needed to keep her healthy. Give her time to settle in, and then feed her some extra food. She should burrow.

One week before you plan to mate the tarantulas, place the male in a smaller habitat, such as a small container. Place the small container inside the larger one.

Mating time

Feed the female two days before you plan to let the male out for mating. Hopefully, one or both tarantulas should start drumming on the glass or plastic of the smaller container.

When you notice the drumming, the spiders are ready to mate. Feed the female one more time. The male doesn’t need any extra food.

Grab a paintbrush or stick. In case of a fight, you can use it to separate the two tarantulas.

Let the male out of the smaller container and monitor their behavior. If they immediately start fighting, separate them with the paintbrush or stick.

If the fight escalates and you’re worried about one of the tarantulas killing the other, save the female over the male. Females live longer, cost more, and offer more value for breeding.

Depending on the species, they may go to the female’s burrow or mate immediately. The male grasps the female’s fangs and inserts his palpal bulbs. The mating process may only last one or two minutes, so don’t wander off.

Post-Mating

After copulation, immediately place the male back in its container. Try the process again a week later, giving the male time to recharge his palps.

If you’ve never seen two tarantula mate it helps to watch a real example first. In this video, two mature tarantulas perform the mating ritual, including drumming before mating occurs (video source: MyMonsters South Africa)

How Long Until the Tarantula Lays Eggs?

After successful reproduction, you wait for the tarantula to lay its eggs. The female stores the sperm in the spermathecae until she decides to fertilize her eggs.

Some species wait months or a year before producing an egg sac. With the best tarantula species for beginners, you can typically expect the female to wait about two to three months after mating to fertilize the eggs.

The female tarantula goes to her burrow and guards the egg sac until the eggs hatch, which typically takes about six to eight weeks. The egg sac contains two parts. First, the female spins the basic part and lays the eggs on it. She then spins a web to form roofing over the eggs.

While guarding the eggs, the female also spins the sac occasionally. This helps keep the eggs from getting deformed and adds more protection to the sac.

How many eggs can a tarantula lay?

A tarantula may lay hundreds or thousands of eggs depending on the species. In most species, the average is around 100 or so, but some of the smaller species may only produce 30 to 60 babies.

For some species, the number of eggs and spiderlings is way higher. In this video, this tarantula breeder removes the egg sack from a Brazilian red and white tarantula which contains around 1,400 slings.

https://youtu.be/f1RWCuiQa28

After hatching, some tarantulas carry around the slings until they can fend for themselves. Other species may try to eat the babies, which is why many tarantula keepers artificially incubate the eggs.

If you plan to incubate the eggs, wait at least a month after the female produces the sac. This gives more time for the female tarantula to build up the outer walls of the sac.

Tarantula Breeding: How Do You Take Care of Baby Tarantulas?

Whether you take the eggs away before they hatch or wait for the spiderlings to appear, you need to separate them from the mother eventually. As mother tarantulas may eat their young, you’ll need to prepare the housing before the spiderlings arrive.

Adequate housing for spiderlings should include ventilation, proper humidity, and substrate. You rarely need a heat source, unless your home remains cool. Typically, temperatures between 72-degrees and 78-degrees Fahrenheit should work well.

There are many types of containers that you can use to house the young tarantulas, including:

  • Vials or pill containers
  • Small plastic cups with lids
  • Cricket tubs
  • Tupperware boxes
  • Baby food jars

How big should the containers be?

The containers should offer enough space for at least one inch of substrate for burrowing. Each container should also have a lid with holes for ventilation. Just make sure that the holes are small enough to keep the spider from escaping.

As you can only keep one spiderling in each container, you’ll likely need a lot of containers and space to store them.

Fill each container halfway with a substrate, such as moist vermiculite or a mixture of vermiculite and sterilized potting soil. Use your finger to press a small hole into the substrate, about an inch deep.

How to feed the young spider

When you place a young tarantula in a container, it should immediately burrow. It then expects the food to just drop by.

To feed the spiderlings, drop crushed chunks of cricket into the containers. Most young tarantulas can eat crickets the size of their body. By the time they have a leg span of about one inch, they can typically eat an entire cricket in a day. Remove the uneaten food and debris the next day.

You only need to feed them twice per week. You also don’t need to worry about water, unless you’re raising arboreal spiders. I recommend misting containers with arboreal spiders every few days to maintain a higher humidity level.

When the spider achieves a leg span of over an inch, you can start using a small soda pop bottle as a water dish.

Molting in young spiderlings

At some point, you may notice that spiderlings stop eating. This usually occurs just before molting, which happens about once per month. As the spiders grow, occasionally move them to slightly larger habitats.

You shouldn’t need to handle the spiders, except when transferring to large containers. For this task, I recommend using a paintbrush. You can use the soft bristles to gently prod the spider without irritating it.

It’s also a good idea to keep detailed records. It’s easy to lose track of feeding schedules, molting dates, and the ages of the spiderlings without writing things down. Use a notebook or an app on your phone or tablet to keep track of feeding and molting.

Is tarantula breeding easy and profitable?

You don’t need a license to breed and sell tarantulas, so anyone can try to make money selling these spiders. Tarantula breeding is relatively easy, but it’s a good idea to have experience raising at least a few mature tarantulas before jumping into breeding.

One of the hardest parts is storing young tarantulas. If your female lays 200 eggs, you may need 200 small containers. If you plan on breeding for profit, you may even need to deal with multiple sets of spiderlings, requiring hundreds of containers. You also need to keep track of feeding schedules and molting dates.

Besides those tasks, tarantulas and tarantula babies are low-maintenance pets, until the scale of the breeding business grows. It’s not uncommon for full-time breeders to spend most of their day feeding tarantulas and cleaning containers.

Video Source: Arachno Tube

Is selling tarantulas a good business venture?

The business of breeding and selling tarantulas isn’t always profitable. As with any business, you’ll struggle to find customers at first.

There are two main sets of customers – individuals and dealers. When you sell to individuals, you make more profit on each individual spider, but you also need to deal with shipping the individual spiders.

With dealers, you can often ship or deliver hundreds of young tarantulas at a time, but at a discounted price.

Market size and competition

You also need to consider the competition and the size of the market. If there are enough established breeders in your region, you may find it hard to break into the local market.

When you try to advertise online, the competition can become even greater. This is partly because anyone can breed and sell tarantulas. If you choose to try selling the tarantula babies for profit, start finding customers as soon as you place them in containers.

Start with classified advertisements or search your local area for tarantula dealers. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a customer willing to buy a steady supply of spiderlings.

For it to become profitable, you’ll also want to increase your inventory, which requires multiple mature tarantulas. Start with one pair and increase the number of mature tarantulas to provide a continuous stream of egg sacs.

Shipping the spiders

When shipping individual spiders, use a thick paper cup or plastic container with a lid. Fill the inside with tissue and press down to create an indentation for the spider. Lightly mist the tissue with water using a spray bottle.

Carefully place the spider in the indentation and cover it with a little more tissue. Poke several holes in the lid and close the container.

Most shipping companies allow you to ship tarantulas, but you should always check first. USPS, UPS, and FedEx all allow you to ship tarantulas, but some of the local offices may not.

Video Source: Exotic Lair

How many babies do tarantulas get each time?

Female tarantulas can lay egg sacs containing 2 to over 100 eggs. However, some species may deposit up to 2000 eggs. The female then guards the egg sac for 6 to 7 weeks until the spiderlings emerge from the eggs.

How many babies can tarantulas have in a lifetime?

Female tarantulas may reach maturity at 2 to 5 years and live for 20 to 30 years. If you assume an average egg-laying period of 15 to 20 years with 100 to 500 eggs per sac and one reproductive cycle per year, she may have 1500 to 10,000 babies in a lifetime.

Do male tarantulas die after mating?

With most species of tarantula, the female cannibalizes the male before or after intercourse. In the wild, a female tarantula may kill several weaker males before reproducing with and cannibalizing a stronger male.

Do tarantulas die after laying eggs?

Female tarantulas don’t die after laying eggs or after the spiderlings emerge. After laying the egg sac, the female guards it until the eggs hatch. She also turns the sac frequently, keeping the eggs from deforming.

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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