So You Want to Buy a Tarantula…
During the course of visiting folks with our eight legged friends, we often get asked questions about obtaining a pet tarantula. So I added this section to help answer some of these what, where, and why questions about getting your first pet tarantula.
The first question the all prospective pet owners need to ask themselves is “why do I want this animal?” With the increase in popularity that invertebrates like tarantulas and scorpions have seen in the pet trade, “why” is a pretty rational question. If your first answer is, “for the shock value of having a giant spider,” do the hobby a favor and think twice. That doesn’t mean it is wrong to enjoy the looks that people give you when you tell them about the tarantula living in your house, but it probably shouldn’t be the main reason. These creatures are quite remarkable, as you will soon find out shortly after purchasing your first!
The first place you might want to look, especially for your first spider, is a privately owned local pet shop. Many of these will have a selection of invertebrates for sale that you can browse. Look to see if the animal appears healthy, has water available (not a wet sponge), a place to hide, etc. One good indication that the pet shop is knowledgeable is if they know the scientific names of the tarantulas. Here are a couple of true phone conversations I have had with prospective pet shops…
“ABC Pets. May I help you?”
“I understand you sell tarantulas. I am checking to see if you have any Grammostola species in the shop.”
“Uhhh…what specificially are you looking for?”
“I’m looking for either an aureostriata or pulchra.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what those are.”
“They may be labeled Chaco Golden Knee and Brazilian Black.”
“We have some dark tarantulas; mostly black.”
Article # 2
Tarantulas keeping guide :
Back to the main Tarantulas page
I said “thank you” and that was that. I kept looking, and found another private pet shop that was rumored to sell tarantulas. I called and asked the same question, and got this response…
“We don’t have either of those species, but we have a couple of roseas. We do have a lot of other species available, though.”
In my opinion, it is smart to start with something relatively easy to help gain experience. If all goes well and you want your collection to expand, you can move on to other species first. For me, there are a few different things that a beginner should look at. First is the expense of that first spider. Roseas are typically inexpensive to acquire ($20 to $30 for an adult). There are some wonderful species that would make excellent first time tarantulas, but the prices can be intimidating for that first spider.
The second thing to look at is how hardy the species is. You don’t want something that has tricky temperature/humidity requirements. The Chilean Rose Hair is about as tough as they come!
Third, you want a tarantula that is known to be docile and slow moving. Roseas have a good reputation for being very calm spiders, slow moving spiders. Remember, however, that there are always going to be exceptions. (These are wild animals, after all.) Some people in the hobby do not like roseas, claiming they are too common and “boring” for them. However, our rosea is still among one of our favorite (and most friendly) spider in our collection.
If you have the money to spend and want something other than a Chilean Rose Hair, here are some other great “beginner” tarantulas. (You may have to order from a dealer online for these.)
Sounded promising, so I went to take a look. They carried approximately 50 different tarantulas, all labeled with the scientific name. However, there were many tanks with no water source at all (and some with cotton balls that had been soaked with water some time ago), many with several dead crickets (which means they do not maintain the cages), and even one tank with a dead tarantula in it. Needless to say, I moved on. I ended up finding two local shops that had a selection of tarantulas that were well taken care of, and the staff members were knowledgeable.
You might ask why I don’t go to some of the big chain pet stores that do sell tarantulas. Several reasons, including the fact that they are importing wild caught tarantulas, whereas MOST tarantulas sold at reputable private pet shops are captive bred. Also, the big chains do not always know the proper way to care for a tarantula, thinking that they should all be kept in the same environment.
Another great option is going online. This will probably be slightly more money that you may want to spend on your first tarantula, but there are some GREAT breeders/dealers out there that can guarantee the quality of your purchase. (Go to my resources page for a list of online dealers.)
WHAT? Okay, so what spider should you get? If you were to ask a number of tarantula hobbyists what species makes the best “beginner” tarantula, my guess is that a majority of them would answer the Chilean Rose Hair (Grammostola rosea).
3- Eupalaestrus campestratus (Pink Zebra Beauty): Has a reputation as one of the most docile tarantula species!
ARTICLE # 1
How to Care for a Tarantula
So you've just brought home a new, eight-legged little friend. What now? This article describes some of the basics about caring for a tarantula as a pet. Follow these steps, and you and your tarantula will be off to a great start.
1- Research your pet. Many tarantulas have many different needs. Make sure you fully understand the diet, temperature requirements and humidity levels that your specific tarantula needs. Most tarantulas will eat fruit flies, crickets, small frogs, lizards, or pinkie mice, depending on the size and species of the tarantula.
- Find out where your type of tarantula typically lives. Some tarantulas live in trees (arboreal) where height is more important than ground space. If you have a tarantula that lives on the ground (ground dwelling/opportunistic burrowing), then it's more important to have room for the tarantula to walk around. Native climate will also dictate the ideal temperature and humidity levels for your species of tarantula.
- Purchase a suitable container for your tarantula. Make sure you use a tank or Critter Keeper that meets your tarantula's needs. This will vary depending on the size and species of tarantula. Critter Keepers can be purchased from most pet stores. Aquariums work well, as long as the top is sealed in a way that the tarantula cannot escape. Remember tarantulas can climb glass very easily. To a tarantula, a piece of glass is like a 'jagged rock face' due to the many tiny "hooks" on their pads / feet. Don't make the tank too big, as a tarantula does not need a lot of space. More space makes it easier for its prey (crickets) to hide or get away from the tarantula. Make sure that the enclosure size is approximately twice the leg span of your pet in depth, front to back. It should also be three times the leg span in length for a comfortable size to house your tarantula. Tarantulas do not require a large area to be happy in captivity.
- Place a good few inches (at the very least 2 inches) of substrate at the bottom of the tank. This prevents the tank from getting too dry and holds in moisture when you mist the tank. Some species of tarantulas will dig into the substrate and might need up to 5" of substrate. The depth of the substrate should be no less than the leg span of your pet from the surface of the substrate to the top of the enclosure to prevent injuries due to falls which can rupture the opisthosoma (abdomen) of your pet. Fill the enclosure with an all Organic Potting soil such as Black Gold All Organic Potting soil, or Canadian Peat Moss, or if you choose, you can mix a combination of both for an acceptable substrate. Many nurseries carry such products. The main criteria is that it be listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute [OMRI] if possible to ensure no additives such as fertilizers are included.
- Provide your tarantula with a water source such as a water bowl which can be of the pet store variety or as simple as a plastic jar lid depending on the size of your pet. It should be large enough that your tarantula can submerge its Chelicera and fangs to drink from the source. Never use a sponge, paper towel, cotton, or cricket gel for your tarantula to drink from as these can harbor harmful bacteria in large quantities. The bowl does not need to be any deeper than about one inch for an adult spider, less according to size. Do not be alarmed if you do not see your pet tarantula drink out from the water bowl. Most rarely do, but the water dish is highly recommended for humidity purposes.
Decorate according to the specific needs of the tarantula. Tree dwelling species will need branches and tall things to climb on, while ground dwelling species should be discouraged from climbing as they could easily fall and injure themselves. Remember, the more you put in, the more you have got to clean....and you will have to clean the enclosure at some time. Some people like to decorate the interior with silk plants, leaves etc. It is not necessary and is more of a personal choice rather than a requirement for their habitat. A piece of store bought driftwood might be appreciated. Remember, simple is best. Make it low tech and enjoyable.
- Feed it the right stuff. Feeding is inexpensive and easy. All pet tarantulas are insectivores, meaning they eat insects! they are also opportunists, some able to subdue small lizards, snakes, birds and mammals such as mice. Crickets are the mainstays of the diet of captive specimens although some hobbyists feed roaches as well. Crickets can be purchased at most pet stores. Roaches generally have to be ordered online and a colony started to ensure a constant supply of roaches as a food source. Some roaches are able to climb glass so it is advisable to learn how to keep them contained. Many keepers use a ring of petroleum jelly around the top of the roach container to keep the roaches from crossing the petroleum jelly and escaping.
- Provide some form of security for your tarantula in the form of a pre-made burrow or hide something such as partially buried clay flowerpot. This will allow your pet to escape light and reduce stress. As many tarantulas are obligate burrows by nature you can provide a pre-made burrow in the following manner.
1- Chaco Golden Knee (Grammostola aureostriata): A gentle, slow growing giant.
2-Mexican Blonde (Aphonopelma chalcodes): A beautiful, docile, desert dwelling species.
5- Avicularia avicularia (Common Pinktoe). Fast, fuzzy, and friendly, tree dwellers are great for beginners.
4- Brachypelma smithi (Mexican Redknee). A hobby classic!
The following information is a basic caresheet for pet tarantulas. You will need to adjust various items, such as substrate depth and humidity levels depending on what species of tarantula you are keeping.
Before your tarantula is brought home from the pet store, or delivered from a mail order dealer, there are some things you will want to have ready. Here is a good shopping list to start with:
Tank/Cage: Knowing the size and type of tarantula (terrestrial or arboreal) will be helpful in choosing the tank/cage you will need. BE SURE that the tank/cage you select has a secure lid.
Water Source: A shallow water dish will need to be provided for your tarantula. If the spider is on the smaller side, or the dish a little deeper, you may want to add a few small rocks to the dish to keep the tarantula from getting submerged and drowning.
Long Tweezers: Hardware stores, medical supply stores, or most pet shops that sell invertebrates will be able to provide you with this invaluable tool. Long tweezers keep your fingers out of the way when removing dead prey (or pieces of dead prey).
Wooden Spoon or Paintbrush: Basically, you want something handy to prod or coax a reluctant or angry tarantula out of your way (or into a holding tank).
Mid 70’s to 80 is optimal for many tropical species. Many from the Americas can be kept slightly cooler. Remember that too cold and a spider may not eat. Too hot and they may not live. Again, this is a good place where specific species research is helpful.
Most desert species will do fine with a water dish to provide enough humidity. Obviously, more tropical species will need your help to keep the levels up. You can do this using a spray bottle filled with distilled water.
The big three you will often see are vermiculite, peat moss, and potting soil. Do not use bedding used for hamsters or rabbits, like wood shavings of any kind, paper, corn cob, etc. Remember to find out if your tarantula will want to dig a burrow, of if it will be happy using a provided hide. Those that will want to burrow will need deeper substrate than those that will be content under a piece of cork bark.
Oh Give Me a Home, Where My Tarantula Can Roam!
Tarantulas make their homes in one of two places; in/on the ground, or in trees. Ground dwelling tarantulas are called terrestrial, while tree dwelling tarantulas are called arboreal. If you are purchasing your first tarantula, be sure to do enough research to find out which one your tarantula is, as they each have different caging requirements.
Terrestrial tarantulas are more concerned with the length and width of the cage than height. The general consensus is that the minimum floor space is 1.5 – 2 times the leg span of the tarantula. The height of the cage should be enough that the spider can flip over onto it’s back (for molting). Many people go the inexpensive route and purchase plastic storage containers (shoe/sweater box) and ventilation holes drilled into them. Aquariums are also popular choices, but you must be careful that the tank is not too high. Terrestrial tarantulas will explore their tank, which includes climbing the sides and the lid to the tank. There is a good chance that the spider could lose it’s hold and fall to the cage floor. If the spider is too high off of the ground when it falls, that could spell trouble for the tarantula.
Arboreal tarantulas love to climb and will rarely be seen on the floor of their cage. Because of this, these tarantulas should have a cage with greater height than length or width. Many tarantula keepers will turn an ordinary plastic tank or glass aquarium on end, giving the arboreal spider the vaulted ceiling it was born for.
In either case, you want to be sure that you provide water (in a shallow dish), air (ventilation), either a place to hide (cork bark or half-buried flower pot) or enough substrate to dig a burrow of their own, and food. Decorations for your tarantulas cage are strictly up to your tastes. Believe it or not, your spider doesn’t really care!
“A happy Pink Zebra Beauty!”
Top 10 Most Venomous Spiders
Part 1 of 3 From Beginner To Advanced Tarantula Keeping/Feeding
Part 2 of 3 From Beginners To Advanced Tarantula Keeping/Feeding
Part 3 Of 3 From Beginner To Advanced Tarantula Keeping/Feeding
Best tarantula species for beginners | Tarantula pet guide
Top 10 colorful tarantula
Top 10 most beautiful Tarantulas
Good Websites :
- Forum : arachnoboards.com/threads/keeping
Online Shopping :
Top Defensive/Aggressive Tarantulas (not recommended for begginers)
Article # 3
Tarantulas by Experience Level
Poecilotheria metallica, common: Gooty Sapphire Ornamental
How to Use This Guide
I very much dislike calling tarantulas "beginner, intermediate, or advanced" because I feel it's misleading. They are non-descriptive terms that don't reflect the reasons a hobbyist considers a species to fall into any of these categories. Instead of creating a list using generic terms, I have grouped species by geographical origin, temperament, and habitat because it's more accurate in determining what type of behaviors you may expect from any particular species. You will be better able to decide if a species will fit your personality and demeanor, which I feel are more influential when picking a tarantula than experience level. As you work your way down the list, the difficulty of keeping each species increases. Each grouping is a little faster, more defensive, or has a more serious bite consequence.
I don't intend this list to be a comprehensive, nor do I have personal experience with most of the species here. If you have an addition, suggestion, or would like to share any experience, please leave a comment! I will be adding species as readers recommend in hopes of creating a working resource for tarantula keepers at any experience level.
A stunning Amazon Sapphire spiderling.
Docile New World Species
These are the most laid back spiders you will find. If you're looking for a tarantula you can handle without too much worry, look no further. With time, you will learn how to safely pick up and place your little guy without much risk to yourself or spider. Please do a reasonable amount of research before attempting any handling. Arachnoboards.com has some very helpful guides if you don't know where to start.
Aphonopelma bicoloratum Mexican Blood Leg
Aphonopelma chalcodes Desert Blond
Aphonopelma seemani Costa Rican Zebra
Avicularia avicularia Common Pinktoe
Avicularia diversipes Amazon Sapphire Pinktoe
Avicularia geroldi Brazilian Pinktoe
Avicularia laeta Puerto Rican Pinktoe
Avicularia minatrix Venezuelan Red Slate Pinktoe
Avicularia purpurea Purple Pinktoe
Avicularia Versicolor Martinique Pinktoe
Brachypelma albopilosum Curlyhair
Brachypelma emilia Mexican Redleg
Brachypelma smithi Mexican Redknee
Cyriocosmus elegans (dwarf, no common name)
Cyriocosmus leetzi (dwarf, no common name)
Eupalaestrus campestratus Pink Zebra Beauty
Skittish New World Species
These guys are more likely to kick hair, bite, or run from you than those previously mentioned. They are still quite docile, and often suggested as good first tarantulas for new hobbyists with less confidence. With care, they may be handled, if you must.
Brachypelma vagans Mexican Redrump
Brachypelma boehmei Mexican Rustleg
Cromatopelma cyanopubescens Green Bottle Blue
Cyclosternum fasciatum Costa Rican Tigerrump
Grammostola aueostriatum Chaco Gold Knee
Grammostola pulchra Brazilian Black
Grammostola rosesa Chilean Rose Hair
Iridopelma sp. "recife" (No common name)
Defensive New World Species
Species here, and on out, are not to be handled, but instead maneuvered and coaxed with tools such as deli cups, lids, feeding tongs, fishnets, and paintbrushes in/out of their enclosures for maintenance purposes.
Acanthoscurria natalensis (No common name)
Ephebopus cyanognathus Blue Fang Skeleton
Ephebopus murinus Skeleton Leg
Ephebopus rufescens Red Skeleton
Ephebopus uatuman Emerald Skeleton
Megaphobema robustum Columbian Giant Red-leg
Psalmopoeus cambridgei Trinidad Chevron
Psalmopoeus irminia Venezuelan Sun Tiger
Psalmopoeus pulcher Panama Blond
Theraphosa blondi Goliath Birdeater
A very small Blue Fang spiderling having a meal.
Terrestrial Old World Species:
Old Worlders do not flick hairs, so have a more potent venom than their New World cousins. They also move much faster than New World spiders. Their first inclination is to retreat if the option is available, but an adult is less likely to do so in captivity because enclosure size is often very restrictive (in territorial terms). If they consider you to be within their territorial bounds, which many do as soon as you pop the opening on their container, they are ready to defend their burrow, legs and fangs in the air. I should note that this is a generalization and there are certainly exceptions. Suffice to say, these species are easily provoked.
Arboreal Old World Species:
Most tarantula keepers agree that these are the most challenging species in the hobby. They are wicked fast and not afraid to defend their territory (their whole cage) from invaders like yourself. However, If given a retreat, they would rather hunker down in hiding than go out of the way to attack. Individuals vary, of course. Issues usually only arise during cage cleanings and maintenance when disturbing your spider is unavoidable.
Personally, I recommend you keep a spider from the Psalmopoeus genus before attempting any Old World arboreals. The genus will allow you to become accustomed to arboreal speed and how to maneuver a more defensive spider without the more painfully dangerous consequences of Old World strength venom.
Cyriopagopus schioedtei Maylasian Earthtiger
Heteroscodra maculata Togo Starburst Baboon
Lampropelma nigerrimum (No common name)
Lampropelma violaceopes Singapore Blue
Poecilotheria metallica Gooty Sapphire Ornamental
Poecilotheria ornata Fringed Ornamental
Poecilotheria regalis Indian Ornamental
Poecilotheria rufilata Red Slate Ornamental
Poecilotheria striata Mysore Ornamental
Poecilotheria subfuscia Ivory Ornamental
Stromatopelma calceatum Feather Leg Baboon
Old World tarantulas have far more potent venom, with Asian species being strongest. Tarantula venom is not inherently lethal to humans, but bites from Old Worlders induce a more intense and widespread pain. There are no recorded deaths form tarantula bites, however, you should head to the emergency room if you have difficulty breathing from either swelling or an allergic reaction. For example, a bite to the face or neck can cause enough swelling to restrict airflow. Joint pain, muscle cramping, and irregular heartbeats are not uncommon side effects among many more, which deserve their own hub. You can find many "bite reports" via Google if you'd like to research the venom of a particular species.
Feather Leg Baboon
My Personal Experience
My first tarantula was an Orange Baboon (Pterinochilus murinus), which is not typically suggested to new tarantula keepers. I had a great time with him, and don't regret jumping into what's considered an intermediate-level species right from the start. He fit my naturally cautious, introverted demeanor perfectly. Other species I've kept include individuals from the Avicularia, Grammostola,Cyriocosums, Psalmopoeus, Poecilotheria, and Stromatopelma genus.
As far as the Old World arboreals go, particularly Stromatopelma calceatum, I cannot stress how important it is that you take extensive measures in preventing opportunities for escape or being bitten. You cannot react to their speed, so set yourself up for safe interaction when maintaining these species. You have to be careful with everything regarding these tarantulas. Plan adult enclosures well in advance, minding how accessible the water dish is, where you'll be accessing the cage, how fast the door shuts, making sure there's lots of places to hide, etc... and you don't want to re-house these guys more than once, when you finally place them in their adult enclosure. If you always err on the side of caution, you will not find these beautiful beasties to be as much trouble as they're made out to be. I truly feel that successful keeping of S. calceatum is strongly dependent on your own personality and the way your approach danger in general.
Please share your experience with tarantulas! You are welcome to include links to safe handling advice or care sheets you have written on HubPages.
Greater Horned Baboon
Chilobrachys fimbriatus Indian Violet
Idiothele Mira Blue Foot Baboon
Pterinochilus murinus Orange Baboon Tarantua, aka Orange Bitey Thing
Haplopelma lividum Cobalt Blue
Haplopelma schmidti (No common name)
Hysterocrates gigas Camaroon Baboon
Ceratogyrus darlingi Horned Baboon
by Peter Klaas
Tarantula Hobby...Big spiders!
- British Tarantula Society : www.thebts.co.uk/
- American Tarantula Society : www.atshq.org/
Further Reading :
by Stanley A. Schultz
by Michael Andreas Jacobi
by Samuel D. Marshall
by John Browning (Author)
by Robert G., Jr. Breene
by François TEYSSIÉ
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