So you want to know about tarantulas? You've come to the right place. Information can be found in the Care Sheets. Pictures can be found in the Gallery. Questions can find answers in the Forum. Please feel free to use all of them at your leisure. Galleries will be updated as more pictures are received. Care Sheets will be updated as they are written.
1. Make sure the tarantula is not sitting there with it's legs underneath it, or that it reacts slowly to touch or not at all. Those are signs that the Tarantula may be dying.
2. Check that there is a water source in the tank such as a water dish. If the abdomen of the tarantula is shrunken, that is a sign that the tarantula is dehydrated.
3. Ask the pet store if they know the Scientific Name of the tarantula. Pet stores sometimes make up common names which you will not be able to find information on. If you know the scientific name, you should be able to find a care sheet on how to care for your specific tarantula.
4. See if they can tell you the sex of the tarantula. Females generally have a much longer lifespan than a male.
You may feel the need to handle your tarantula, but your tarantula does not feel the need to be handled. With terrestrial (Ground Dwelling) tarantulas, a short drop can irrevocable damage them, such as rupturing their abdomen. With arboreal (Tree Dwelling) tarantulas, a short drop may not be as damaging, but they are generally very fast and hard to catch if they escape you. Tarantulas also have potent defenses. All tarantulas possess venom. They usually refrain from using venom when biting large adversaries, and for the most part avoid direct contact with larger animals at all costs. In general (although some species have been reported to have more potent venom) a tarantula bite can be compared with a bee sting in severity. Tarantulas are considered harmless, medically insignificant creatures. Bites are extremely rare. Some people have reportedly experienced reactions to a tarantula bite, including severe localized pain or breathing irregularity. If you are bitten by a tarantula and have trouble breathing, please seek medical attention immediately. While any type of tarantula can bite you it is generally the Old World (Asian and African) tarantulas that tend to bite when confronted or cornered. This should not to give you a false sense of security when dealing with New World (South, Central, & North American) tarantulas. On the contrary, when dealing with New World species, you must know that they are capable of biting, and often use another type of defense known as Urticating (itch-causing) Hairs. In most species of New World tarantulas, these hairs are found on the abdomen (although some species have additional urticating hairs on the pedipalps). Most can kick these or hurl these hairs (some need to press them into you) causing them to become airborne. These hairs generally cause mild itching and sometimes a rash wherever the contact was made. These rashes can sometimes be treated by taking Benadryl. The hairs are, in most cases, only medically significant if gotten in the eyes or mucus membranes. This can be prevented by thoroughly washing your hands after handling your tarantula or changing it's bedding, keeping the tarantula away from your face while handling, and of course by not rubbing your tarantula against your eyeballs. It is for these reasons that handling your tarantula more than necessary is NOT recommended. For times when you must move your tarantula, such as cleaning the tank, one the easiest ways is placing a container in the enclosure, such as a deli cup or the bottom half of a soda bottle, and gently herding the tarantula into it. You then securely cover the container so that it cannot escape. Clean the enclosure, then replace the container back in the enclosure and release the cover, letting the tarantula come out on it's own. If you simply can't resist handling your tarantula, a good rule of thumb is to understand the animal's body language. Heed the warnings and threat displays. If you don't know what your pet will do 100% of the time when approached, don't handle it.
Tarantulas have exoskeletons and in growing need to undergo a process known as molting. Molting is the process wherein a tarantula grows it's new exoskeleton under the old one, partially absorbs the underlying layers of the old skin and then emerges from the old exoskeleton looking all shiny and new. It usually takes some time for the spider to recover from this molting process. The new exoskeleton is soft, and needs to harden before the animal can resume eating, walking and other routine activities. Tarantulas generally molt on their backs or sides. If you wake up one morning and see your tarantula on it's back or side, DO NOT touch it. Molting is a very strenuous and dangerous time for tarantulas. One sign of an impending molt is loss of appetite for a few days to as long as a few months before the molt. In New World species another sign is if there is a bald spot on your tarantulas abdomen, you may see the skin begin to turn black. This is the new exoskeleton forming and separating from the old and is no cause to be alarmed. If you see signs of an impending molt the best thing to do is make sure there are no crickets or other prey items in the tank as they can harm the tarantula while it is defenseless and to increase the humidity as excessive dryness can hinder a successful molt. Then just sit back and watch as your wonderful pet renews itself. Molting generally takes a few hours for an adult tarantula to complete from the time you find it on it's back. If your spider gets stuck in it's molt, the humidity may be too low, this can be rectified by misting the enclosure with water. Be sure NOT to mist the tarantula directly. If the molt takes longer than a day or so, emergency measures may be called for. You can try to take a pair of forceps and VERY GENTLY try to pull off the exoskeleton by pulling on the ends of the old leg skin. Trouble spots can also be loosened by applying a diluted solution of glycerin and water to the area that is 'stuck'. If a tarantula gets injured during a molt, the loss of hemolymph (blood) can be fatal, so any physical contact with the spider during a molt must be avoided if possible. Do not introduce prey into the enclosure for at least a week after a molt. It takes time for the tarantulas new exoskeleton to sclerotise (harden) and during this time the tarantula is extremely vulnerable. One sign that your tarantula is ready to eat is if the fangs are black and shiny. If they are still pink it is too soon as the fangs have not hardened yet and your tarantula can deform or lose it's fangs trying to eat, with possible fatal consequences. Once your tarantula is ready to eat again it will probably be quite hungry and will eat heavily for a period of time. Very young tarantulas and very old tarantulas are most likely to experience molting problems. The young are vulnerable to desiccation (drying out) and the old have been known to have premature molts, or failure to molt thought to be caused by hormone imbalances. Elderly tarantulas have also been known to experience some difficulty molting because the may lack the stamina needed to get them through such a physically demanding ordeal. All in all molting is one of the most fascinating things in the hobby and the process opens up many possibilities for the keeper to learn growth rates and other valuable information about each species.