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How To: Care for your Tarantula

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Found some of my old college work and thought would make a collection of How To threads for everyone, you will find most of it is to do with exotic animals (like this thread) as that was where my main interest was at college (I wanted to be a herpetologist). I am just basically copying and pasting from my orginal work.

anyway back to the subject:

For those who are unsure what a tarantula is (im sure most of you know for obvious reasons) please follow this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantula

Here I will cover the basic management techniques with Housing, Feeding, Sexing, Handling, When NOT to handle and a few of the dangers involved.


An important point to remember when you buy a tarantula is that they are not for the faint hearted as they are excellant escape artists! You can buy vivariums on the market that are specially designed to house tarantuals and spiders. Another type of housing some people will use is a gallon jar with a large wide top that you can easily get your hand in and out of with the tarantula in there. An advantage with this is you can easily give plenty of ventilation by punching small holes, not too big so the tarantula can escae, into the lid. Whichever housing you get you need to ensure that you provide your tarantula with plenty of places to hide, burrow and build webs. If you have a tree-dwelling (as in lives mostly in the trees) species then you would need to provide a climbing area using sticks, small branches, man made climbing areas. Keep the tarantulas enclosure out of direct sunlight and ensure that the temperature is kept around 75F by using products to generate heat within the enclosure such as heat mats (best option) or heat lamps.


Tarantulas will feed on anything that is moving and smaller than itself. In rare cases they may eat larger animals such as other spiders or tarantulas, snakes, mice, mice and rats but their usual diet, in captivity and the wild, usually consits of: Medium to large insects such as crickets and grass hoppers, small snakes, small lizards, toads, baby mice (pinkies) and on occasions you can tempt them to eat dog food when in captivity. It is advised that you feed your tarantula approx. once a week. A decent diet for them in captivity is a variation of Mealworms, buffalo mealworms, crickets, locusts, grass hoppers and even a few houseflies. To ensure that your tarantula is getting all the required nutrients, you can buy food supplements which you can simply just over their meal or you can get supplements which you feed to the insect/mealworms etc. The best supplement to use is Nutrobol. It is also vital that you provide a small shallow dish of water for your tarantula.


It is usually very easy to tell which is male and which is female with tarantulas as the female is usually significantly larger than the male. There are 4 main methods used to determine the sex of a tarantula. Method one is to look for spurs on the underside of your tarantulas front legs, if spurs are present then it is a male and if not it is a female. Method two is to look at the shape of the tarantulas chelicerae (mouth parts, found holding the fangs), the females is much broader than a males. The other two methods are much more complex and difficult to explain and is not recommended for a someone who is not experience doing them. It is best advised that you always ask an expert to determine the sex of your tarantula.


You can handle your tarantula in two ways. One is when the tarantula is unaware of itself being handled. This is done by placing your hand down in front of your tarantula and then very gently pushing it on to walk on to your hand. The other method is when the tarantula has no way of preventing itself from being picked up. This is done by grasping the sides of the carapace (part between the middle pair of legs) with your thumb and forefinger. Ensure that you come down on the tarantula and pin it down when using this method before picking it up or else the method will not work and you could be in for a little unpleasent suprise.

When NOT to handle

It is advised that you do not handle your tarantula during night times as this is when they are most active and usually hunt for food. If your tarantula starts to show ANY signs of aggression, or is naturally aggressive, then do not handle!

Dangers involved

A few of the dangers involved with keeping tarantulas are:

1) Getting bitten

2) Catching disease

3) Being poisoned

4) Getting skin irritation from the tarantulas abdomen hairs which they can either ub onto you or the can also fire them at you.



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Wow, fantastic info there Amy, added to rep.

I don't like spiders though - sorry rephrase, i HATE them lol lol scared to bloody death of them.

I have actually found this really interesting though!! Thank you :D

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no problems sarah, I aint the biggest fan of them myselt actually. My friend had one though and he was wkd!

Coming up next, probs tomorrow, we will be having some Karma Chameleon :)

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