How to Care for a Tarantula
A Common Species - Chilean Rose
Kritter Keepers make good tarantula enclosures
This beautiful Avicularia Versicolor shows that tarantulas are beautiful pets
Tarantulas are easy pets to care for, and the tarantula hobby is growing and is fun. Most people view tarantulas as exotic, hard to care for animals, but in reality they are not. Here is a tutorial on how to keep your very own tarantula.
There are two types of tarantula; there are terrestrial species (live on ground) and arboreal species (live in trees). Most pet stores that carry tarantulas will carry the Grammostola Rosea, the Chilean Rose. Some may even have rarer species, such as Avicularia Avicularia (Pinktoe), or Pterinochilus Murinus (Orange Baboon Tarantula).
The first thing to do is to always research. Which is hopefully what you are doing now! Most tarantulas tolerate a temperature range from 68 degrees fahrenheit to around 80-82 degrees, not any higher than 82. You want to select a suitable enclosure for your tarantula. Many hobbyists recommend around 3-4 legspans of a tarantula as a length. Remember, tarantulas have very poor eyesight, and too large of an enclosure will make them feel disoriented. Therefore, tarantulas do not need a very large enclosure. Commonly used containers for a medium sized G. Rosea are kritter keepers, 5 gallon glass tanks w/ ventilated lid, plastic shoebox containers, etc. All are good choices. Terrestrial tarantulas will require a horizontal enclosure, arboreal tarantulas prefer a more vertical enclosure. The Grammostola Rosea (Chilean Rose) is a terrestrial tarantula.
Now for substrate. Tarantulas thrive on a soft substrate that can hold moisture. Most hobbyists use Eco-Earth, which is coconut fiber, usually found in a brick. It is under the name "plantation soil" from the brand Exo-Terra. This substrate can be found in usually any pet store in the reptile section. All tarantulas need a hide to feel secure, whether they use it or not. Half-logs make good hides, so does an overturned flowerpot or a piece of cork bark. As long as it comfortably fits your tarantula, it is a good hide. Avoid materials such as plastic, metal, or anything sharp. Decorations can be added, but make sure there are not too many, or else the insects you feed the tarantula will escape easily. Cage maintenance should be done every month.
Humidity: A spray bottle should be used to mist the tank at least once a week. It also depends on your spider. Chilean Rose tarantulas live in dry environments, so a misting once a week will suffice. For more rare tarantulas that love moisture, such as Theraphosa Blondi or Avicularia genus, then more misting will be necessary.
Feeding: Tarantulas have very slow metabolisms, and that's what makes them such easy pets to keep. Most pet stores sell adult sized Chilean Rose tarantulas (around 4-5 in.). Suitable foods include crickets, superworms/mealworms, and many types of roaches. An adult Rosea should eat two crickets per week. Do not overfeed a tarantula.
Lighting/heat: Tarantulas are not fond of light. Any type of overhead light designed for reptiles will not only dessicate (dry out) your tarantula, but also make it shy to come out of its hide. Always keep tarantula enclosures out of sunlight at all times. If the house temperature is not in an appropriate temperature range, the best heating is ambient heating. Experienced hobbyists use a bookshelf or closet that has a small space heater to make ambient heat in the desired range. Heat pads/lights are very dangerous for tarantulas and should not be used. Most room temperatures are fine for tarantulas.
Molting: Tarantulas molt to grow larger. Molting is the shedding of the tarantula's exoskeleton. For most adult spiders, they will molt every once a year or two years. So, if you ever see your tarantula lying on its back, it is NOT dead! It is in the process of molting. Juvenile spiders and slings (spiderlings) molt more frequently. It is important to provide lots of moisture before a tarantula molts because it will make molting easier. A way to tell if a tarantula is in Premolt is if the tarantula's colors are getting duller, it is less active, and if there is a bald patch or a dark patch on its abdomen. During this time, do not feed it, as tarantulas in premolt will refuse to eat most of the time. Make sure the substrate is damp but not too damp. After a tarantula molts, one should wait about a week-two weeks before attempting to feed it. This is because its fangs are still soft from molting and eating could damage its fangs.
Hopefully that's it! This should not be the only resource you use to learn tarantula care. There are many great tutorials on youtube and forums. A good forum is Arachnoboards. The link is www.arachnoboards.com At this link you can find many good tarantula/invert dealers that are trustworthy and good forums to ask questions and discuss. And if you do create an account, please friend me; my username on arachnoboards is demasoni521 as well.
Have fun with your new pet!