(The family Theraphosidae contains many species of tarantulas)
There are about 900 species of tarantula, found in desert and tropical regions worldwide. The most popular species of pet tarantula are the Mexican Redknee (Brachypelma smithi) and Chilean Rosehair (Grammostola rosea) Tarantulas. The Mexican Redknee was one of the first species to enter the hobby and has been used as a scary prop in many films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is also known to be one of the longest living tarantula species, with females living up to 30 years. The Chilean Rosehair can be a pink or reddish-orange color and does well in captivity, providing it receives proper care. Both species make good first tarantulas. Handle tarantulas only when necessary: a fall from even a small height can damage their exoskeletons.
Leg span can grow up to 6 inches.
Spiderlings will eat pinhead crickets and other small insects. Adults should be fed crickets, other large insects such as grasshoppers or locusts, mealworms or waxworms a few times a week. If it does not eat, the food should be removed the following day.
Keep spiderlings with a leg spans between 1/2″ and 2″ in a container 3–5″ in diameter with a secure lid; in a bigger container the spiderling may have difficulty locating its prey. Adults can live in a 5 to 10-gallon tank. Include a hollow log or pieces of bark to provide hiding places.
Note: Never house two tarantulas together: they can be very aggressive towards each other.
2-3 inches of moist horticultural vermiculite or peat moss makes a good substrate. Peat-based potting soil can also be used, but make sure it does not contain additives such as fertilizer.
Tarantulas do well at a comfortable room temperature: between 70° and 80°F. An additional heat source should not be necessary and can over-dry the environment very quickly.
Humidity should be kept between 60 and 70%. This can be accomplished by misting the aquarium with clean water once a week. Also keep a small, shallow dish of water in the enclosure and change the water daily.
MYTHS VS. FACTS
- Myth: Tarantulas are dangerous or deadly to humans.
Fact: Both the European Wolf Spiders (Lycosa tarantula), originally called tarantulas, and the theraphosid spiders (true tarantulas) have been reputed to be dangerous to humans, however few have venom that is more toxic than a bee sting.
- Myth: Spiders carry germs on their fangs that can cause infection.
Fact: Out of the entire mass of medical literature on spider bites, only one case contains any possible evidence of a spider causing an infection by its bite. This spider was seen but not caught for testing, so we’ll never know for sure.