Beginner’s Guide to Taking Care of a Pet Tarantula

“Kevin, I’m going to feed you to my tarantula,” yelled Buzz McCallister! Now, young and old alike, we all enjoyed the Christmas classic that is Home Alone. But, contrary to movie belief, tarantulas are actually submissive pets when not provoked. They are a perfect pet choice because they are quiet and need little space.

There are 800 species of tarantulas and they belong to the Theraphosidee family. Inhabitants to area and climate, tarantulas can live in dry, subtropical and tropical environments.

There are a few tips in picking out your very first tarantula. First, you should choose a female because of their significantly longer life span. Males tend to only live a couple of years, where the females can live up to 20 or more. Secondly, it is best to go for a mild, slow moving tarantula, like the Chilean Rose (Grammostola Rosea). These particular tarantulas are the ground dwellers or the burrowers, and never move too rapidly.

Although tarantulas are not difficult to care for, there are certain preliminary measures taken to provide the best environment for your pet. Unlike when I was little and took my pet tarantula, Harry Legs, stuck it in a jar, fed it crickets, and kept it in the sun; there are specific ways to take care of these unusual pets. I only did one thing right; fed it crickets! You might want to be like Buzz McCallister and feed your pet mice guts, but crickets will suffice.

If you are the adventurous type and have more than one tarantula, it is important to keep one to a cage, due to their shy nature. A 2.5-5 gallon aquarium will be sufficient, but be sure to include a secure lid with adequate ventilation. A 2-4 inch layer of substrate vermiculate and potting soil mixture should be placed on the bottom of the cage. Avoid woodchips! Since these creatures are shy, the best way to keep them from having to take Lexapro, it is best to provide them with a place to hide and placed in a dark area, as well. (Just kidding about the Lexapro) Ample temperature to keep your arachnid is 75 to 85 degrees.

There eating are habits are fairly simple to abide by in that they only require a cricket or two on a weekly basis. If your spider has been denying its food, do not fear for it is not becoming anorexic, it is merely preparing for the molting stage. Molting occurs when the tarantula is ready to become larger and sheds its exoskeleton. It will lie on its back for several hours while the process is taking place. Once the old exoskeleton is shed, it will take a few days for the outer layer to harden, at which point your pet will want to start eating again. But do not feed before the new layer has hardened, for they are vulnerable to death.

It is apparent to know that they do have a venomous bite, but Kevin had nothing to worry about because the toxicity of the bite is similar to that of a wasp. Their bites are unlikely to be fatal, but just like those that have allergens to bees or wasps; an allergen to tarantulas can cause their bite to be fatal.

Another concern can be found on a few of the new world tarantulas. They are called urticating (itch causing) hairs, grown on the abdomen. If threatened, they will vigorously rub the hairs which will result in irritation on the skin. The hairs are barbed and can easily work their way into the skin so it is VERY important that you apply tape to remove the hairs, wash your hands efficiently and apply topical cortisone cream to reduce the itching.

Be sure to request the proper name of your tarantula to be able to attain the proper care for your specific species as different species of the tarantula require different needs.
Now Buzz, go and enjoy 20 years of arachnid bliss!

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