Tarantula Care Sheets

Common Names     Scientific Names

General Care Information

Food:

Tarantulas are predators.  Being such, they prefer live food.  The most commonly available food source being crickets.  Tarantulas will also eat moths, houseflies, cockroaches, and beetle larvae (mealworms and superworms).  Larger Tarantulas can as a treat be fed pinkie mice or fuzzy rats.   A rule of thumb is not to feed the tarantula anything larger than half it's body size.  Small spiderlings can be fed fruit flies or pinhead crickets.  Please do not feed your pets wild caught insects unless you can be sure that they are pesticide free.  If your tarantula eats contaminated food, it can die!  Try to give your tarantula some of the insects besides crickets once in a while as you wouldn't want to eat only pizza all your life, would you?  Uneaten prey should be removed from the tank within 24 hours as they can stress your tarantula and possibly even harm it.  If your tarantula is in the process of molting, all prey items should immediately be removed from the tank as the tarantula is very vulnerable at this time.  Be sure to remove any food remains.  Decaying organic matter attracts mites, fungus, mold and other potentially harmful organisms into the cage.

Water:

All tarantulas require a source of drinking water.  This can be in the form of misting the tarantulas enclosure in the case of spiderlings or with a wide shallow water dish for tarantulas with at least a 3 inch leg span.  Household items that can be used for water dishes include: Yoo-hoo bottle caps, pill vial lids, or even the caps from 5 Gallon Water Bottles.

Substrate:

There is much debate on the issue of the perfect substrate for tarantulas and the debate will likely never end.  It is as much a personal choice as anything.  Good results have been reported using bed-a-beast or jungle mix, which can be found in most pet stores.  Another possible substrate that you may have heard of or had success with is a 50/50 mix of potting soil and peat moss.  Both of these substrates hold moisture well and support burrowing.  A word of caution, if using potting soil, make sure that there are no pesticides or fertilizer in the soil as these can harm your tarantula.  Vermiculite (NOT industrial) can also be used as a substrate although there is great debate on this as it can possibly contain asbestos.  Many people have used it as a substrate with no ill effects on their tarantulas.  Other possible substrates are wood chips or sand.  These are not recommended as substrates.  If you do choose to use wood chips make sure not to use cedar (as it is a natural insecticide and will possibly kill your tarantula) or pine chips as it has been reported that the sap is harmful to tarantulas.  Sand does not hold moisture well and gets stale quickly.  Neither of these substrates support burrowing.

Housing: 

Housing can be as cheap or as expensive as the individual keeper wants.  Anything from plastic Rubbermaid shoeboxes (with plenty of air holes drilled in of course) to 20 Gallon aquariums with screen lids can be used to house your tarantula.  For Terrestrials (Ground Dwelling) a rule of thumb is that the tank be twice as wide as the tarantula and three times as long.  For Arboreals (Tree Dwelling) it's slightly different as height is more important than floor space.  You can use the same rule of thumb as terrestrials, but stand the enclosure on it's end so that the length transforms to height.  For Terrestrials and Arboreals you would like 2-3 inches of substrate.  For burrowing Terrestrials 3-5 inches of substrate is more appropriate.  Some Old World burrowers need to dig deep into the soil, so try to provide a sturdy container with plenty of room for the spider to tunnel away.  Enclosure decorum is entirely up to you.  Cork Bark or Driftwood leaned up against the side of the enclosure make nice hideaways for your tarantula.  You can also use a ceramic flower pot on it's side with the bottom half buried in the substrate.  Burrowers will take care of their own home, do not try to build a burrow as it will be more prone to collapse.  Sometimes, you can help a tarantula start its burrow by making a depression in the soil next to the side or corner of the cage.  If the spider feels secure enough it will take advantage and continue the burrowing process.  Enclosures should be spot cleaned after each feeding to remove prey corpses as they are breeding grounds for mites.  Substrate should be completely removed and replaced every 6 months to a year or as needed.  Final Note:  Tarantulas can climb, please make sure you have a SECURE lid on your tarantulas enclosure.  Some tarantulas have been known to tear through screen material with their fangs or get their tarsal claws hopelessly caught in it.  Observe your pet's behavior and substitute material as needed to make the cage safe and secure for your pet.

Climate: 

Most tarantulas can be safely kept within 70 to 85 F.  This is a general range and you should find out the specific needs of your breed of tarantula.  At higher temperatures your tarantulas metabolism will increase.  Meaning it's food and water needs will increase as will the speed of its growth rate.  The downside to this is that the tarantula will be more prone to dehydration and it's lifespan will decrease.  You must pay careful attention to make sure your tarantulas needs are being met at higher temperatures.  Humidity in the enclosure should be anywhere from 60 to 85% depending once again on the specific needs of your breed of tarantula.  Humidity can be increased by a number of things.  Misting the tank, a water dish with a wide surface area, keeping the substrate partially or completely moist, or partially covering the tank lid.  If your tarantula needs high humidity, make sure that there is adequate ventilation to the enclosure as high humidity and no ventilation makes a breeding ground for mold.  For desert species of tarantula a small water dish should take care of all your humidity needs.  It is also advisable to let the temperature drop as much as 10 F at night for tarantulas of this type.

Disclaimer:  The following care sheets are only guidelines that you can follow.  These are not written in stone.  If you feel that something in here is wrong, please email the webmaster with what you think is wrong, how you feel it should be corrected and the proof to back it up.

Common Names     Scientific Names