Tarantula collection guide: Your very first Curly Hair
Your very first Tarantula
As a beginner we want to look at a tarantula that isn't aggressive, fast or is fast to defend themselves. There is of course many to pick from, Curly Hair, Chile Rose and more though I prefer starting with the Curly hair they are calm and wont just bite as they will rather flick hairs and if it does bite then the effects is minimal and can resolve to just being very painful which also vary from person to person depending on your pain threshold but in most cases this is so fast it will be a slight burn.
But as beginners we will start with Spider lings AKA slings, they can't harm you in anyway possible. Before we skip to the main objective of the article lets see how well prepared you are for your new Curly Hair sling.
This should be made out of glass with enough air ventilation yet not to much as moist makes it easy to molt, the height of the enclosure isn't a big issue just the floor space, for a sling it should be the perfect fit so that it can hunt easily or it might starve, keeping it in the container for the first few weeks wont be much of a fuzz either.
Depending on your enclosure the next few months will be hard work, giving water isn't much of a problem as you came to believe, the sling will gain enough water from there food, though to make sure they do get enough water you can take a small piece of cotton wool and soak it in water. then place it in the enclosure, this piece of cotton wool shouldn't be placed in the enclosure for more than 6 hours or you risk your enclosure to be bacteria packed which is bad for your sling, you can place the cotton wool once a week or twice a week.
Depending on your tarantula you will need to make a decision to the soil you will use in your enclosure as starting of with a Curly Hair sling Tarantula peat will do just fine, this will do fine for mostly all slings, make sure you start with a small texture as the peat is a mix of normal bark and root, this will give your sling hiding space, as you will soon notice it will make its own space a small hole or just dig out a gap on the side of the enclosure.
Tarantula Peat, make sure it doesn't contain Pine bark or Cedar bark chips these are both toxic, so its recommended to go to a pet store and buy tarantula peat, as shops will have but not suitable for your spider lings like Peat Moss. Cocoa fibre (Eco-Earth) is also a good substrate to use. Also remember to keep the substrate damp.
You can start feeding your sling small crickets, I breed my own with Dubai roaches but when I started out I bought the smallest and as I bought more slings I started buying mixed bulk packs, you can power feed your sling, this means as much as possible though when you notice the abdomen getting to big you should stop, or it can burst or get punctured more easily, in which case you can use crazy glue if it's a punctured, apply with a Q tip.
Crickets that are this small is hard to handle but you can put them in the freezer for a few seconds, this will allow them to go into a hibernate stage and they will be still, instead of jumping and crawling around. you can gently tap the container on folded white paper to easily count down the crickets into your slings enclosure.
Buying your first Curly Hair sling
Buy at someone or pet store that have slings and Tarantulas on sale most of the time or regularly, these stores normally know what they have and what they are doing, selecting your Curly Hair you will need to make sure you get the following info.
Detailed specie name you need to write this down if its not on the container and if you were to buy multiple Curly Hair Slings the specie name should match, this is mainly for breeding it will prevent crossing genes that will make the specie pool weaker. Never buy if you don't know the specie, scientific name.
When it was last fed, if the store or breeder have interest in selling healthy Tarantula slings then they should know this as well as the last time your selected sling molted, though this data can be recorded on a later period by your self.
You need to make sure your selected sling or slings is healthy, you can do so by gently blowing on it in response of a healthy sling it will run or depending on size flick hairs don't worry on this stage it does nothing, unhealthy sling will cripple away or any other signs that might indicate it being weak is a sign not to buy.
This alone wont determine if they are healthy or not, secondly you can let it calm down from the calm blowing and take a toothpick, here you need to be gentle, you can poke the ground calmly or wiggle the tooth pick near the sling in a healthy response it will show some movement and a very healthy response it will believe its food and turn to the tooth pick direction or running towards it believing its food, if it runs away then you did it to roughly it must be really gentle in order for the sling to believe its small prey.
Some slings will stay still no matter what you do this doesn't mean its unhealthy it could be a sign of fear or its simply full and in rare cases it might be in pre molt, but I would prefer not buying them, you want a sling that will feed often and respond often. I also don't buy Tarantulas that look like they are in pre molt or busy molting.
Slings are feisty eaters but don't be worried if they skip a day or two, this can mean they are in pre-molt and will skip eating and movements for a day or two, in this time you should leave them be, this is a very stressful stage for your sling and your tarantula and disturbance can be led to death, after a day or two it would be done molting and you can find the molted skin in the enclosure, remove it gently even after the molt is complete you should not bother your sling as the skin is still soft including the fangs so you can't feed it either, you can feed your sling in 3-7 days after the molt is completed. Larger Tarantulas will take longer the pre-molt days will turn into a few weeks and to actually molt will turn into hours and eventually a day in some cases even longer.
Keeping the enclosure clean
This is a must, depending in which country you live in there is many conditions that comes with a dirty enclosure, mites, flies, fungus and even moss growing on your tarantula. For slings you can clean once a week since the enclosure will be small, you will need to remove your sling gently into another enclosure, make sure its a straight way to lead them out as falling can make there abdomen burst open in which case is lethal, after you have your sling in its new enclosure you can clean the old one by removing the old peat and wash the enclosure out with a water vinegar mixture, Rinse the enclosure with boiled water, and let dry, you can now add new peat that's 100% dried, you can now safely place your sling back into its enclosure.
For bigger Tarantulas with larger enclosures cleaning is a must once or twice a month, the same conditions apply here as the above.
I don't prefer handling slings at all at this stage, slings are small and very fast most importantly very fragile and can get lost easily, don't worry you can still tame it on an older age at least 3 cm in body length, this is for me the ideal size to handle my Tarantulas.
There is two methods of doing so but as for now that will be included in the next edition of this article since no handling will be required now.
Temperature and humidity
You don't always need the precise temperature but the moisture is very important it can help your sling molt, my heating pads works on a timer for temperature 10 minutes on every 30 minutes, only half the enclosure on the bottom or 20 minutes in every 40 minutes placed in the back of the enclosure or on top. Since we are talking slings you can place your small enclosure into a big enclosure with your other slings then set the temperatures. For a Curly hair sling room temperature is about right in most countries.
For Curly hairs this should be ideal
Temperature: 75-76 Fahrenheit
Final Notes on the Curly Hair Slings
- Never leave it to dry or to wet otherwise it will build up moss, fungus and bacteria.
- Always remove all uneaten prey after a day, then retry in two days.
- Always keep the water fresh daily never use sponges or cricket gel it attracts bacteria.
Thank you for reading this article there will be more to follow with more important details so check back for updates, from this article it will do for most slings only the temperature and humidly will vary including enclosure sizes and the natural habitat.
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© 2014 Phillip Grobler