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What Do Tarantulas Eat? Tarantula Diet 101

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

Many would-be tarantula owners as themselves “What do tarantulas eat? Is it complicated to feed tarantulas?” The good news is that feeding a tarantula is not complicated since most pet tarantulas like to eat the same type of food.

In this article, we will discuss what you can give your tarantula to eat, how often, and in what quantity. We will also discuss the possibility of breeding your own live food at home.

What Type of Food Do Tarantulas Eat?

Here is a list of what you can feed your pet tarantula at home.

  • crickets
  • cicadas
  • caterpillars
  • grasshoppers
  • mealworms
  • B.lateralis roaches
  • B.dubia roaches
  • superworms

In the wild, large tarantulas are also able to eat:

  • frogs
  • lizards
  • mice
  • pinky rats
  • small birds and hatchlings

How To Feed a Pet Tarantula

The easiest option is to give your tarantula some crickets or other bugs that you buy in the nearest pet shop. As a general guideline, four to six roaches or crickets are enough for a week.

You can feed calcium gluconate to the prey of your spider every second week. And once a month – multivitamin preparations. Tarantulas get their nutrients from the insects they eat, so a healthy bug makes for a healthy tarantula.

Feeding method

Feeding a hungry tarantula is no rocket science. Simply drop the insect inside the enclosure in front of your tarantula. To ensure the insect falls as close as possible to the tarantula you may use a large pair of tweezers. Needless to say, never approach your hand near your tarantula with an insect in it. If you do, you’re asking for trouble.

It is necessary to feed tarantulas, especially baby ones, as much as they can eat. The most suitable time is evening or morning.

Tarantulas have external digestion. The whole process of eating is as follows: the spider injects poison and digestion enzymes into the victim, and only then absorbs the digested decomposed tissue.

Video Source: Exotic Lair

How often should I feed my tarantula?

Depending on the species, you should feed an adult tarantula between one and 3 times a week. To know exactly how often your tarantula should be fed, you should refer to the appropriate care sheet for your species.

Once a month, mix multivitamins into food for your crickets and add calcium gluconate every two weeks. You can find specific vitamin solutions in the pet shop.

Do they always eat the same amount each time?

The younger the tarantula, the more often it eats. Baby spider molts more frequently, so you need to feed it a few times a week. In the future, growth slows down, and 3-5-year-old tarantulas are enough to feed once every 2-3 weeks.

Video Source: Exotic Lair

What should tarantulas not eat?

Do not give tarantulas such food as:

  • home cockroaches (as they may consume poison);
  • street insects (they can have parasites)

If you live in remote areas of the city or the countryside, then you can feed the tarantula with insects that you caught in the fields. In a busy city, it is better not to use street insects.

Avoid inappropriate food for the tarantula. Other predators, the same size as your pet, can kill the tarantula. Such animals include scolopendra, scorpions, praying mantes, and other big spiders.

Even small insects may hurt your spider if the feeding time is wrong. For instance, your spider may be about to molt or may have just molted. In this case, you should not introduce any type of live food in the enclosure as they might harm a spider too weak to hunt for its prey.

Tarantula Feeding Tips

If your pet tarantula refuses food for two to three weeks, you should not panic. A home tarantula can go without food for a month without any harm to its health.

If the pet is full and refuses the second or third insect in a row, kill the potential food and leave it in the terrarium for the night. If the spider did not touch the victim overnight, throw the insect away. It means that your spider is not hungry at this time, but might be in a day or two.

Just before and after molting, do not feed the spiders at all. After the process ends, your tarantula will be ready for hunting and eating.

What should I do with the leftovers?

It is better to take out the food leftovers from the terrarium, but only if the spider completely lost interest in it. Fungus and bacteria multiply rapidly in conditions of high humidity, which can harm your tarantula.

If the spider continues to be interested in prey, let it suck all the juice of it. When the insect turns into a dead carcass wrapped in cobwebs, the spider will hide it in the corner of the terrarium or throw it in a drinker.

How much do tarantulas drink?

There should always be fresh water in a spider house. Put a small saucer with water in the terrarium, and change the water preferably every day.

A spider can go without food for months, but it cannot exist without water. In the wild, they drink from any available source such as rainwater, or the morning or evening dew that falls on the web.

Breeding Tarantula Food at Home

You need to ask yourself whether breeding your own tarantula food is worth it or not. With the possibility of ordering crickets and superworms online and having them posted right at your door on the next day, it might not be worth the effort especially if you are breeding only a small amount of tarantulas.

However, if you are keeping many tarantulas, breeding your own tarantula food at home might make sense. It is easy, and cheaper in the long run, and you have full control of the type of food your insects will ingest, which will result in a healthier diet for your tarantula.

1. Cockroaches

Small marble cockroaches are the best choice for a diet of little spiders. Experienced tarantula owners keep a cockroach colony in a specially designated terrarium, pot, or other containers. You can hold them even without a lid – lubricate the edges with petroleum jelly so that the insects do not get out.

Video Source: Snake Discovery

2. Crickets

You can also breed crickets to feed your spiders, but keeping these insects at home is troublesome enough – they need wet sand or soil. Besides, cannibalism is common among crickets, so you can lose part of the residents if you did not feed them on time.

Video Source: The Critter Depot

You can also catch caterpillars, flies, and grasshoppers. But you need to be sure that the insect didn’t consume food with pesticides.

Can tarantulas eat mice?

An adult tarantula can kill a mouse without any problems. But eating mice is not the most desirable choice for your pet’s health. Such food is rich in calcium and often causes molting difficulties. It can lead to the death of your spider.

And don’t forget that we talk about adult tarantulas and small mice. A big mouse or rat can hurt or even kill your spider, so you should think about other food.

Can tarantulas eat mealworms?

Mealworms can be a great base for your tarantula’s diet. They are high in fat and protein, and you can easily keep them. Also, you can buy different types of mealworms, so you can feed both baby and adult tarantula. But do not feed your spider only with these bugs. Don’t forget about roaches, meat, and crickets. A healthy diet should be varied.

Can tarantulas eat waxworms?

Waxworms can be an excellent choice for the diet of tarantulas. They have no bones, and waxworms are a great source of fat and water for your pet. So if you want to add some fat to the diet of your spider, try these bugs.

Can tarantulas eat moths?

Tarantulas prefer crickets, but they don’t mind eating moths and other insects. Just make sure you didn’t catch them in a dangerous place (close to plants or big roads), as they can be toxic for the spider. If you can’t buy it in a pet shop, it is better not to give it to your tarantula.

Can tarantulas eat superworms?

Superworms are a great alternative to roaches. They are something like giant mealworms, the same tasty and healthy. And superworms are quite cheap.

Some tarantulas do not like superworms and prefer roaches and crickets. It depends on your spider, so you can give it a try with a small quantity and gauge your spider’s appetite.

Can tarantulas eat stink bugs?

Feeding tarantula s with stink bugs is quite similar to the case with moths. It is not the favorite food for tarantulas, but they can eat it. And once more, make sure they are not toxic, and you caught them in a clean place.

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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.