Answers to the most commonly asked questions about tarantulas

Pet Tarantula FAQ

Tarantula Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can tarantulas make good pets?

A: Absolutely! Not only can most be kept at room temperature (around 70F-75F), but they only need to eat once or twice per week, and usually just 1-2 insects per meal. Some species are very docile (calm), and are quite handleable as well.

They can live long lives (20+ years for females), and prefer small enclosures (bigger is not better) with few decorations. It really doesn’t get any easier than this folks. Read my article, “The best pet tarantulas” to learn more.

Q: Do tarantulas bite?

A: Sure, like many animals they do have the ability to bite, but most species are reluctant to be aggressive, choosing to flee rather than fight. Regardless, their venom is generally weaker than a honeybee’s and usually only causes mild irritation.

We have dealt with many different species for several years and have never received a single bite. Read my article, “Do tarantulas bite?” to learn more.

What do pet tarantulas eat?

A: Generally crickets, waxworms, superworms, and mealworms. Basically just about any insect. In some cases, with the larger species such as the Goliath bird-eaters, they can consume a small mouse. Yum!

Read my article, “What do pet tarantulas eat” to learn more.

Are tarantulas good pets for kids?

A: They certainly can be, with certain precautions. If interaction is preferred, stick with the more docile species such as Mexican Redknees, a Mexican Firelegs, or Rose hairs. If interaction isn’t necessary, a display tarantula can be really fascinating for a child to take care of, feed, and observe with supervision. Most people have a deep curiosity about these arachnids and keeping one as a pet can prevent a fearful attitude or arachnophobia later in life.
Tarantula pet
Q: My tarantula is on its back—is it dead?

A: Most likely, it’s just molting. Generally, when a tarantula is ready to “shed” its exoskeleton it will flip onto its back, and spend several hours crawling out of its old “skin.”

It will leave behind a virtually perfect replica of itself, so don’t be shocked when you see what appears to be two tarantulas inside the enclosure! Read my article, “How tarantulas molt” to learn more.

How often should I feed my tarantula?

A: Once to twice per week is a good rule of thumb. If your tarantulas abdomen (the opisthosoma) starts getting thin or is shrinking, increase the feeding frequency. The abdomen is a good barometer of overall health.

Q: My tarantula is missing a leg—what happens now?

A: Just wait for the next molt, and your tarantulas leg will re-appear magically! But, it likely won’t look quite as good as the original, often a bit thinner.

Q: Can tarantulas jump?

A: Nope, they don’t jump. In fact, terrestrial tarantulas are extremely sensitive to falling. A drop of just 2-3 feet can result in their unfortunate demise.

Q: Do tarantulas spin webs?

A: Believe it or not, no they don’t spin webs in the traditional sense. They do, however, produce silk. They use this silk to line their burrows and hiding spots—it’s a way in which the tarantula is alerted to intruders or prey approaching them (they feel the vibrations through the silk).

They don’t spin webs that catch insects, like the common spiders found around suburban homes.

Q: Do tarantulas hibernate?

A: No, they do not, as they generally hail from warmer climates.

Q: How long do tarantulas live?

A: Females can live for up to 30 years, while males max-out at around 6-7 years. Read my article, “How long tarantulas live” to learn more.

Q: Do tarantulas need extra heat?

A: Fortunately they can thrive at room temperature, so no extra heat is necessary!
Safe pet tarantulas
Q: Should I buy a baby (spidering or “sling”) or adult tarantula?

A: We’d recommend starting with something in the 1-inch legspan range (the diameter of a U.S. quarter) if you’d like to watch the tarantula grow to an adult.

The only “issue” with buying adult tarantulas is that you never really know their age—if it’s a male, does it only have a year or two left?

Q: Is there a difference between male and female tarantulas?

A: Aside from some nearly imperceptible physical differences, they generally act and look identically. However, as mentioned above, the males do have considerably shorter lifespans.

Q: Can tarantulas be handled?

A: Sure. There are some species that are generally much more handleable than others, such as the Mexican Redknee and Mexican Fireleg, among others.

They usually are non-aggressive, slow-moving, and calm. Read my article “How to handle a tarantula” to learn more.

Q: What size enclosure do I need for my pet tarantula?

A: Tarantulas prefer smaller, cozier enclosures and actually don’t thrive in large cages. Even the biggest tarantula in the world can comfortably be kept in a simple 10-gallon tank, and most species would prefer something even smaller than a 10-gallon.

Try to provide a cage that is around 3-4 times the legspan of your tarantula. Make sure it’s secure.

Q: Can I keep more than one tarantula together?

A: It’s really not recommended, and you’d probably witness some nasty fighting, resulting in the demise of one of your prized tarantulas. The only exception I can think of is when you’re trying to breed them, but that’s a more advanced topic.

Q: Where do tarantulas live?

A: They occur naturally in plenty of places, including the United States, but are most prevalent in Mexico, Central America, South America, and Africa.

Read my article, “Where do tarantulas live” to learn more.

Q: Is it true that daddy-longlegs would be one of the most poisonous spiders if they could bite?

A: No, this is a commonly believed myth. They don’t have venom or fangs.
Mexican redknee pet tarantula