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10 questions for new tarantula keepers.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote arachnofreak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: 10 questions for new tarantula keepers.
    Posted: February 27 2007 at 7:24am

I know all of these topics have been discussed over and over everywhere but I wanted to get them in one thread and sticky it.  People who visit that may be thinking of possibly getting a tarantula for the first time can read this thread. I know most will all have very similar answers to the questions and some of course will have multiple answers. It will get very repetitious but thatís ok, that is the whole purpose of this thread. Thanks!

 

The top ten questions new tarantula keepers ask and need to know.

  1. Which tarantulas are recommended for first timers?
  2. What do I keep a tarantula in?
  3. What do I use for substrate?
  4. What cage accessories are needed?
  5. What do I feed a tarantula?
  6. How much and how often do I feed a tarantula?
  7. What temperature do I need to keep a tarantula at?
  8. Can I handle my tarantula?
  9. How long does a tarantula live?
  10. What do I do when if my tarantula is on its back and not moving?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote thevez2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2007 at 10:25am
  1. Which tarantulas are recommended for first timers?

Basically, any of the desert terrestrial species such as those that belong to Aphonopelma, Brachypelma, and Grammostola are hardy docile and great for beginners. Some of my favorite beginner species include:

 

Aphonopelma anax Ė Texas tan

Aphonopelma chalcodes - desert blond

Aphonopelma hentzi Ė Texas brown

Avicularia avicularia - pinktoe

Brachypelma albopilosum - curlyhair

Brachypelma emilia - Mexican redleg

Brachypelma smithi - Mexican redknee

Eupalaestrus campestratus - pink zebra beauty

Grammostola aureostriata - Chaco goldenknee

Grammostola pulchra - Brazilian black

Grammostola rosea - Chilean rose

 

  1. What do I keep a tarantula in?

This all depends on the size of the tarantula.  If you start with a tarantulaling, you can generally keep it in the vial or container that it came in for a molt or two.  I like to put tarantulalings in a vial that is 2-3 times it's legspan in diameter, and then bump it up in size when it reaches 75% of that diameter.  Once a tarantulaling is an inch or so, keeping it in a delicup is a great way to save money and space.  Once they reach 2 inches they could be kept in a mini Kritter Keeper or PetPal.  Any smaller than this and they could escape through the top.  For larger tarantulas, which are in the 3-5 inch range, larger Kritter Keepers make great cages, but can get costly if you have a large collection.  Rubbermaid or Sterlite brand shoe boxes are an economical alternative. You can find them on sale for $1 a piece. Then all you need to do is drill or melt a few holes in the lid and sides for ventilation.  Aquariums are great for larger display pets.  For tarantulas that are in the 3-5 inch range a 2.5 or 5.5 gallon aquarium is the perfect size.  Many people like to use 10 gallon aquariums because they are cheap and easy to find.  These, however, are a little big for anything that is less than 6 inches.  They can be used, but you'll find that your tarantula doesn't utilize the entire thing.  10 gallons are great for tarantulas in the 6-9 inch range, anything larger than that might require a 20L. Always be sure that the lid is secure, and absolutely escape-proof. You'd be surprised how small of a crack that a tarantula can fit through, basically if it can squeeze its carapace through, then it can get its whole body through.  Dividing a cage is not a good idea; some people want to salvage their old aquarium and make a home for 2 tarantulas.  Great care must be taken, because a determined tarantula can and will find a way to cross the barrier and eat the other tarantula.  They are remarkably strong for their size and can push a lid up to get across the barrier if given the latitude to do so.

 

  1. What do I use for substrate?

That's the million dollar question isn't it?  Certainly one of the most widely debated topics in the hobby.  First off you want to make sure that there are no chemicals in the substrate, this means no fertilizers or pesticides.  Second you want to make sure it has no rough or coarse surfaces, this means no sand, gravel, or rocks.  Lastly you want something that is soft, will retain moisture (without molding) and will hold its shape in the event that the tarantula wants to burrow.  There is no perfect substrate out there, most people usually end up creating their own mix by using any of the following: Potting soil, peat moss, coconut coir (bed-a-beast), sand (a little mixed in is OK), and vermiculite (to retain moisture).  I personally like a mixture of about 75% peat moss and 25% potting soil.  Both are very cheap.  You can buy a 40 lb bad of cheap potting soil for $1, and a 2 cu. ft. bag of peat moss for $4.  That is enough to supply substrate for many many cages and is much cheaper than the stuff you buy at the pet store.

  

  1. What cage accessories are needed?

Not many, less is more in this case.  Your tarantula needs a hide to give it a place to burrow and feel secure.  This can be a piece of cork bark, a halved coconut shell, or a clay flower pot.  A waterdish is also necessary for tarantulas over a 2 inch legspan.  Look for something that is about the same size as the legspan of the tarantula.  Put some rocks or a piece of slate in it to give the crickets a place to climb out.  Crickets are dumb and usually end up jumping into the waterdish, unless they can grab onto something and climb out, they'll drown, and foul up the water.

 

  1. What do I feed a tarantula?

Basically all tarantulas can survive and thrive on a diet of invertebrates.  The staple food for tarantulas is crickets, but roaches and mealworms are also great foods.  Some owners of larger species choose to feed small lizards, frogs and mice to their pets.  Many find this to be inhumane, since it is not necessary and is not a part of the tarantula's normal diet.  Yes, it is likely that they occasionally eat these things in the wild, but only if it happens to come near them, they don't go out in search of them.  What you feed you r pet is ultimately up to you, just be aware that if you go around saying that you fed your tarantula a mouse or post pictures of that, you're likely to get a lot of negative feedback.

 

  1. How much and how often do I feed a tarantula?

Growing tarantulalings should be fed whatever they want, usually a small cricket every other day or so.  Larger tarantulas that are not growing quite so quickly only need a good feeding once a week.  Many people feed more often or less often.  I like to feed 1-2 crickets at a time, once or twice a week.  Some feed just on the weekends and give a larger meal, other with large collections only feed every 2-4 weeks.  Tarantulas can survive for months without food, so you don't need to worry about them starving.  The key is to find a feeding schedule that works with your schedule and satisfies your tarantulas.  Pick a starting point, like once per week, and adjust it if you think your T needs more or less.  Any uneaten crickets should be removed after 1 day.  Tarantulas by nature are nocturnal hunters, so they may not eat until the night time.  But if the cricket is still there in the morning then the tarantula is not interested in eating it.   

 

  1. What temperature do I need to keep a tarantula at?

Most tarantulas would be perfectly happy at any temperature within the range of 70-85 degrees F (22-30 deg C).  Most often times your normal room temperature is sufficient.  Supplemental heating is only necessary if the temp is consistently below 70.  Night time drops in temp down to 65 are OK too.  

 

  1. Can I handle my tarantula?

This is the second most widely debated topic in the hobby.  The short answer is yes, most beginner species are docile enough to be handled.  It does need to be noted that any interaction between a tarantula and a human (aside from feeding) is done solely in the interest of the human.  A tarantula gains nothing from the interaction.  There is also a great risk (to both the tarantula and the keeper) that must be understood and accepted before attempting to handle.  First the tarantula is in great risk of injury or death should it suffer from a fall or being dropped.  Their abdomen and joints are very fragile and a fall of a foot or so could be fatal. If you decide to handle you need to be comfortable enough with it that you're not going to flinch and accidentally drop the tarantula. Likewise tarantulas can get spooked and may decide to take off or jump, you need to make sure that if that happens, the tarantula can not fall very far. This is achieved by sitting on the floor and handling low to the ground.  Next there is risk of getting bitten if the tarantula is not in the mood to be held, or many species (including all beginner species listed above) possess urticating hair that they can rub off from their abdomen.  These hairs can cause an itching sensation on the skin and can really be harmful if inhaled or if they get into your eyes.

 

Now that all being said, if you understand the risks, and take the proper precautions and respect your tarantulas, then you can handle them and enjoy the experience.  If you do opt to handle you should always test the temperament of the tarantula first, donít just reach in and grab it.  Gently nudge it from behind with a paintbrush, if it takes a couple steps forward then it should be fine to handle.  If it sprints away or turns to face the brush then it is not in the mood. If it doesn't budge then it could go either way.  Don't pick the tarantula up directly; instead gently nudge it onto your hand.  Let it crawl onto your hand as if your hand is just another piece of substrate.  I like to scoop the tarantula up with a delicup first, then let it crawl out onto my hand.

 

  1. How long does a tarantula live?

Depends on the species and the sex of the tarantula.  Slow growing desert species can live up to 20-30 years or more if they are female, the males tend to mature after 3-8 years.  Quicker growing species like some arboreals have a shorter lifespan of maybe 15 years for females and 1-3 years for males.

 

  1. What do I do when if my tarantula is on its back and not moving?

Don't touch it.  It is molting.  Don't disturb it with noise or vibration. Sit back and watch in awe.  Don't worry it is not dying.  Tarantulas donít dies on their back, unless there is a problem with the molt (which sometimes happens with old tarantulas), if a tarantula is dying it will look shriveled and the legs will curl up under the tarantula like a clenching fist.

 

The molting process can take anywhere form a few minutes to several hours.  Old tarantulas take longer to molt.  Small growing tarantulas can molt every couple months, older mature tarantulas tend to molt once per year and very old tarantulas may even skip a year or two in-between molts.

 

 

 

Last bit of advice, don't believe what the pet stores tell you about your tarantulas or how to care for them.  99% of them have no clue what they are talking about.  Get all you information from books such as "The Tarantula Keeper's Guide" by Stanley and Marguerite Schultz or "Tarantulas and Other Arachnids" by Samuel Marshal or from fine online communities such as arachnofreaks.com.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Barks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 01 2007 at 6:15pm

Good write up!!

I acquired my first t's a few months ago and wish I could have found such a good write up at the time. It will be very helpful to many of us newbies.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Heathen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2007 at 5:00am

good question!

i own a pet store and i get those questions all the time. i always say get a

Grammostola rosea - calm and easy to look after

or

Brachypelma smithi - calm and easy to look after

 

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www.birdspiders.co.za
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Post Options Post Options   Quote OlGeezer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2007 at 5:18pm
Hello KJ

Thanks much for answering the 'top ten questions'.  Great effort.  You had mentioned a couple here in RI, Tim and Sue, would it be possible for me to get in touch with them?

Bill
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Post Options Post Options   Quote webchick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2007 at 7:34pm

Hi  Olgeezer! I'm Sue and Tim is Arachnofreak. I noticed you are from R.I.. Nice to see a New Englander!!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote OlGeezer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2007 at 9:01pm
Hello Sue,

Thanks for responding.  May I take the liberty to send you a private message.  

Bill
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Post Options Post Options   Quote webchick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2007 at 9:40pm
Sure can!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote viafire Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 24 2007 at 12:26am
Great info (answers to 10 questions) I wished that I had help like that when I started in the hobby.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jade8531 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 09 2007 at 1:10pm
Thevez,that was truly an excellent bit of info for the newbies.(Guessing I'm not a newbie any longer...LOL)I think you covered most all the important issues in dealing with a new T.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DJ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 09 2007 at 4:12pm

Indeed it was splendid.


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Post Options Post Options   Quote thevez2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 09 2007 at 4:34pm
Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Becky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 10 2007 at 11:12am

Don't think it could of been put better :D Spot on!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote T_Lover Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2008 at 10:34pm
First, my apologies for bringing this back to life.

I recently started a small collection of pet T's.  I did the homework before acquiring my new pets.  And one thing that 1 of 3 of the T's needed, was +75% humidity.  Because I usually kept it at 50-60%, it had a problem molting, and then died.

Long story short, I know why and what caused it's demise.  But what isn't mentioned is the need to know what your T needs for humidity.  And for the ones that require more than 50%, need to take heed to it.

Otherwise, great info.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote grizz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2008 at 11:07am
this was a great write up, and had some helpfull info. Thanks for the advice on what books a beginer should get, I just found both books on e bay couldn't make up my mind on which one to get so both should be here soon.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jen1302 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 20 2008 at 5:30am

My chili rose has began looking for gaps in viv lid going corner to corner and also found her trying to push glass out in the middle of lid a square shape in middle of lid.

Why is she acting like this as this is a first for her, it's nothing to do with flooring being to damp as it's just right for her.

Also when i got her was told female so not a male any ideas of strange behaviour. 

  

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