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Do Tarantulas Need Light? (Should They Be Kept in Heat?)

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Tarantulas are given a bad rap. They can actually be very gentle creatures, you just have to care for them right! I remember the first time I saw a live tarantula, in second grade when we had the local nature center come visit and bring some of their animals.

Her name was Rosie, and she was one of the employee’s pets. She just sat on his shoulder, and we got so comfortable with her that the kids let the employee put her on their arms to walk up and down them! Now that sensation is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences! Unless you have a tarantula as a pet, of course, then you can experience it on a daily basis.

So, you’ve gotten over your fears and decided to jump on the bandwagon and join the tarantula keepers. Where do you start? Where can you adopt tarantulas from in the first place? What care items do you buy for them, and what tasks do you need to keep up with to ensure they are happy and healthy living in your home? Read on to uncover the ultimate guide for caring for your fuzzy friends.

A tarantula crawling on a wooden branch

Where Do Tarantulas Come From? (Not in Conception, But Location)

Just like more traditional pets such as dogs and cats, you can adopt a tarantula from a breeder, pet store, online sellers, and websites. However, it’s not as easy as that. First, you’ve got to choose what type of tarantula you want to adopt. There are approximately 850 different species of tarantula, all differing in appearance, color, and personality.

Do some research on the different breeds, or specific available breeds local to you, and find the one that has the temperament that fits you best and the style you most admire.

Found one? Great! Now let’s get on to looking for a spider of that species up for adoption!

With the sheer volume of these arachnids, there are many places you can get them from, but you must be wary of where. You’ll want to ensure your tarantula is adopted from an ethical establishment.

Below is a list of reputable sources to do your spider shopping:

Top Pick, Deen’s Tarantulas: Deen’s is a certified dealer under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All trade through Deen’s in the U.S. is completely authorized and legal, and not only that but Deen’s offers shows in public schools to inform youths about tarantulas and help them respect and admire, not fear, them.

Next, Ken the Bug Guy: This organization does sales but also auctions and imports of these creatures. Their tarantulas are always high quality and with the shipping, there is a lot of variety in species to choose between.

a woman holding a tarantula on her hands

Fear Not Tarantulas: This is the website of a specific breeder, whose goal is to get rid of the stigma humans have against these arachnids and inspire positive interaction between our species and theirs.

Morph Market: A worldwide organization of dealers, so it will have the highest variety.

Jamie’s Tarantulas: Jamie’s has specials for people new to tarantula-owning, including selling habitats along with the arachnid, making your journey one step less stressful.

M&T Exotics: This is a well-known breeder, so you can be assured his tarantulas are kept healthy and happy. M&T is an expert with these spiders so they are a great resource, and very open and willing to answer any of your questions regarding these creatures, along with each specific one in his collection.

These are all online options, but depending on your location you can research tarantula breeders near you and find people you can visit and see the tarantula before buying, ensuring they are quality, well-cared for, and the personality you’d prefer. Plus, it removes all the stress and the hassle for the arachnid to be shipped to you or driving a long distance to pick them up.

The most important thing to ask before adopting, however, is the gender and the age of your desired tarantula. Age determines the price and expected lifespan, as does gender (females live way longer than males, the difference between fifteen to twenty years and six and seven!)

Age also determines the type of care needed. A baby will need more attention than an adult. Gender also plays a role in the appearance and temperament of a tarantula, so it is imperative you ask your selected breeder these questions about your tarantula before adoption.

a black tarantula on a wood on the ground

How Much Can I Expect to Pay for a Tarantula? They Can’t Be That Expensive, Can They?

Don’t worry, although they can be acquired similarly to a puppy or kitten, they don’t cost nearly as much! Depending on the age you purchase your tarantula at, the prices will vary, with tarantulas costing more as they increase in years.

Infant tarantulas under one year of age, ones that are still considered “spiderlings” or slings, will be the cheapest, around sixty to a hundred dollars. Juvenile tarantulas or full-grown adults are usually between a hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars, and the rarest breeds can go for around five to six hundred dollars!  

After the initial purchase of your spider and its care items, the maintenance is quite cheap. Ask your breeder what living conditions the spider had while residing with them so that you can get a general idea of the items you’ll need to purchase.

Once those first costs are over with, you can expect upkeep for your spider to be mainly food financially, and cleaning the tank manually.

What Care Items Are Necessary for My New Pet Tarantula?

First off, a little spider–home! Tarantula species are different, so depending on their natural habitat the decor of the home will change. Tarantulas can generally be housed in tanks similar to fish tanks, in reptile cages, or critter keepers.

As a spiderling or a sling, these arachnids will need a smaller, less expensive home to reside in until they grow up, and their habitat can expand. The youth are the cheapest because they come with the most care, and you’ll have to evolve their habitat. They may be cheaper at the start, but over time they’ll even out with the adults.

Tarantulas will need their habitats cleaned out every week, and their water dishes rinsed out every few days. If you’re afraid of cleaning the cage because the tarantula scares you, you may want to reconsider it as a pet. You need to be willing to do your duty as its owner in making sure it is kept in a clean, healthy environment.

These spiders need to be kept moist. Meaning, they need a mister installed into their cages. Make sure it is always filled, as they will require misting daily.

As cold-blooded creatures, tarantulas absorb heat from outside sources rather than creating it themselves. Thus, a heat lamp is necessary! Tarantulas need to be kept at at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with a more comfortable temperature being between 72 and 79 degrees. If they’re kept under 68 degrees or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, they won’t live for very long.

You can tell when your tarantula is getting too cold because they will start moving very sluggishly, and stop eating. A note: red light bulbs used for heating some reptile cages are not suitable for a tarantula’s enclosure.

pellet food

What Do Tarantulas Eat? Can I Feed Them Pellet Food?

No, please do not feed them pellets! Tarantulas need to eat similar food to what they would eat in the wild, and in a similar way. To keep them intellectually stimulated, and because they won’t eat dead or non-moving food they didn’t kill, they need live creatures to hunt and eat as their meals. These arachnids eat smaller bug species such as roaches, crickets, and worms.

Tarantulas don’t eat very often, so daily feeding is not necessary. But they must always have fresh water in their tanks. Because they are eating live food, you have to buy live feeders of these creatures and keep them alive until it’s feeding time. These spiders only eat once every two weeks, so you’ll have to keep the feeders for a while.  

That’s one thing to note about being a tarantula keeper: you may be hosting others bugs for a while as an occupational hazard. Try to get smaller amounts at a time so you’re only keeping them until feeding time that half of the month, and so you don’t always have a box of roaches that can be let loose into the house!

Final Take

All in all, tarantulas are misunderstood creatures that are really fascinating, unique, and beautiful. They have the expected costs of having a pet, without the exorbitant prices of dogs and cats from breeders these days.

Follow the steps above to make sure you get a pet that is coming into your home healthy, happy, and ready for a life with you!