Tarantula Care Sheet

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

CEctoS Basics:


Housing: All spiderlings are sold in an enclosure that should be suitable for at least a few months. For spiderlings, it is important to restrict the available space to help ensure the spiderling finds its food, feels comfortable, and has adequate humidity.

Lighting: No additional lighting is necessary. Tarantulas are nocturnal.

Heating: Warm room temperature between 70 and 75, but not above 85.

Feeding: Weekly. Crickets work best. Dubia roaches are too hard for slings and bury themselves, mealworms bite and are too fatty. For spiderlings, squash the cricket’s

head so it can’t bite.

Watering: Spray the enclosure down well weekly – damp but no puddles. Watering also helps maintain adequate humidity for successful molts.

Molting: When a spider is lying on its back, it is not dead, it’s molting. If your spider is molting, leave it alone.

Venom: All tarantulas are venomous, but no tarantula has venom that is dangerous to the average adult, unless you have an allergy. Monitor all bites just in case.

Urticating Hairs: New World Tarantulas have a patch of special itchy hairs on their abdomens that they kick into the air when threatened. They cannot aim or shoot them. The hairs float like dandelion fluff.

Mites: Some species of mites can damage a tarantula. Keep your enclosure clean to prevent infestations. If you see small inverts in the substrate, they are springtails.


More Information

New World vs. Old World: New World tarantulas are from North and South America. Old World tarantulas are from everywhere else. New World tarantulas are usually about as venomous as bees and have urticating hairs on their abdomen, which may not be removable if they become embedded in an eye. However, since they can’t aim them, they are easy to avoid by keeping the tarantula away from your face. Old World tarantulas are more venomous than wasps and more likely to bite. However, their venom only makes an average adult achy and sick for two to ten days, depending on the species. Take care with all spider bites and monitor for allergic reactions, which can be unexpected and dangerous.

Adult Housing: There are three main sizes of tarantula, dwarves (under 4 inches), average sized (usually 5 to 6.5 inches), and bird eaters (8 inches or over). Tarantulas are measured like TVs, from their right upper leg to their left lower leg. An adult dwarf tarantula needs at least a two gallon tank, an average sized tarantula needs at least a five gallon low, and a bird

eater needs a fifteen to twenty long. Most arboreal species are average sized, but need a tank that is vertically oriented, like an ExoTerra nano tall, as an adult. Any adult can have a larger enclosure: do not put a spiderling in an adult sized enclosure - they tend to get lost and either starve or dry up. How much substrate depends on the type of spider, but

generally giving all terrestrial tarantulas substrate at least a few inches deep will allow them to behave more naturally, while the substrate in an arboreal enclosure is more about maintaining humidity.

Substrate: We use a mix that is about 70 percent cocofiber and 30 percent peat moss. The mixture maintains humidity and turns a reddish color when it is too dry. We also seed our substrate with springtails, which are a type of tiny insect that eat waste products, such as left over cricket bits and tarantula poop. This is to help prevent infestation of dangerous mites. Finally, we include sphagnum moss instead of water bowls in our enclosures because it is naturally antibacterial and antifungal and tarantulas don’t quite seem to understand bowls.

Other Notes: Most tarantulas are solitary. Don’t keep them together unless the species is a special exception. Most adult tarantulas don’t need the high humidity that spiderlings need to be successful, but there are exceptions to that rule as well. When in doubt, research the species of tarantula you have.

Burgundy Goliath Birdeater (Theraphosa stirmi)


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