Tarantula/Frequently Asked Questions
 Are tarantulas fragile? Can tarantulas be hurt from a fall?
Yes, tarantulas exoskeletons are quite sturdy however a fall can hurt them. In general, terrestrial species of tarantulas are less capable of surviving a fall, they aren't used to impact loads on their bodies from jumping tree to tree like arboreal species can. The mass of the tarantula also plays a factor, if the abdomen (opisthosoma) is quite large then fall's are even more likely to cause injury. If you do handle your pet tarantula It is advised that you do so over a soft surface such as a couch or bed. Arboreal species are quite adept at landing safely on their feet from a jump or fall, similar to a cat.
 Can I put live plants in my tarantulas habitat?
Yes. You can, but be prepared to a handle a possible mite problem. Live plants generally don't pose a direct threat to the tarantula in the habitat but sometimes other pathogens or insects ride along with the plant. Keepers have reported better results with artificial plants, and they can be cleaned easily if needed.
 Can venom be removed from tarantulas?
A tarantulas venom can be milked for whatever purpose necessary, however, there is no permanent way to de-venom a tarantula without killing it. Tarantulas need their venom to subdue and liquefy their prey for digestion.
 Can tarantulas bite?
Yes, this is their ultimate defense mechanism.
 Can tarantulas be de-fanged?
 What should I do if I am bitten by a tarantula?
- Carefully put the tarantula back in itâ€™s habitat and secure it.
- Use soap and water and clean the area of the bite.
- Apply ice to control any swelling.
- Drink plenty of water.
- See a doctor if complications or a severe reaction occur.
The following are suggestions that have worked for other people:
- Benadril sometimes works if the swelling gets extensive
- Aleve, Advil, etc. can help with discomfort.
 What species of tarantula are good for beginners?
A good beginner tarantula should be hardy, low maintenance, generally docile in behaivor and can handle a fairly large temperature fluctuation (60-90F) without adverse consequences. It is recommended to buy a captive bred tarantula, instead of wild caught, whenever possible. The following species fall into the above category:
- Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula
- Mexican Red Rump Tarantula
- Chilean Rose Tarantula
- Oklahoma Brown Tarantula
- Mexican Red Knee Tarantula
- Chaco Golden Knee Tarantula
- Pink Zebra Beauty Tarantula
- Honduran Curly Hair Tarantula
- Desert Blonde Tarantula
 Can I feed my tarantula fruit or vegetables?
No, tarantulas are insectivores and must eat live (or if a sling can eat pre-killed) prey. You can potentially feed fruits and vegetables to your tarantulasâ€™ prey and pass on nutrients to your pet through the food chain to help keep them healthy.
 Can I house multiple tarantulas together?
No, unless you are an advanced hobbyist keeping a colony of Avicularia or Poecilotheria. In general if you place two tarantulas in a confined space together a territorial dispute will quickly ensue, ultimately leading to the death of atleast one, perhaps two spiders. This does not apply if you are breeding tarantulas.
 Can I feed my pet tarantula wild caught food?
Yes. However, It is not recommended. Wild caught food such as insects and small reptiles can carry pathogens, pesticides, and parasites. Any of these can be passed to your pet and can potentially lead to illness or a premature death. NOTE: If you tarantula itself is wildcaught then itâ€™s not as important to follow this advice. It will have already been exposed to these potential problems and will likely have some resistance to further problems.
 What types of food can I feed my tarantula?
Crickets, roaches, mealworms, superworms, pinkie mice/frozen mice. Mealworms and superworms will burrow under the substrate away from the tarantula if allowed, putting them in a cup or dish solves this problem. Some tarantulas are finicky and will only eat certain food items, if one food type doesn't work try another. All of the items listed above are referring to captive bred food only. In the wild tarantulas will eat almost anything they can overpower.
 What substrates work for tarantula housings?
Peat moss is commonly used for many habitats. It has proven to be easiest to maintain, easy to form around a burrow, the tarantulas seem to universally approve of it, and it's also inexpensive. You can also do a 50/50 mix of potting soil and peat moss or a 50/50 of potting soil and Vermiculite. Vermiculite by itself has never worked well, the tarantulas tend to climb up the sides of their enclosure to stay off it. It has also been reported to also stick to their feet which of course they don't like. Whatever product you buy as a substrate make sure to read the label, you don't want any pesticide or herbicide added.
 What species of tarantula can jump? How far can they jump?
All arboreal species can jump some distance, terrestrial species can sometimes jump short distances. It is important to know that tarantulas don't jump up any significant vertical height as much as they do horizontally and down. Most of the time they jump down to another surface.
 How often should I clean my tarantula habitat?
There are two levels of cleaning. The first is the normal cleanup of old molts, emboluses, and dead food items. This should be done a few days after every feeding. This helps keep down any potential smell, the potential of mite propagation, and the potential of phorid fly propagation. The second level of cleaning is a complete change out of the tarantula's habitat. This is usually done every 8 months for adult tarantulas and tarantulas that are 4"+ in legspan. Smaller tarantulas are moved into new habitats more frequently than the 8 month time frame due to their growth rate. Changing out a tarantulas habitat more frequently tends to stress them and they don't get comfortable in their environment. Changing out a tarantulas habitat less frequently tends to stress the tarantula more due to the unhygenic environment.
 What organizations are available to join for outings and information?
There is currently one national tarantula enthusiast group in the USA called the "American Tarantula Society" (ATS) which currently has operations centered in Carlsbad, New Mexico. There are various sub-groups of both the ATS and regional arachnid groups around the USA which can be found online. For Europe there is the "British Tarantula Society" (BTS) which is a great resource for arachnid information for anyone. Both the ATS and BTS have annual member events.
 How many tarantula species are there in the world?
Currently there are more than 850 formally recognized tarantula species in the world. It is speculated that there are at least double that amount actually in existence. As more expeditions are conducted into the remote regions of the world more are discovered every year.
 My tarantula successfully molted. Is there any special care needed?
Make sure your tarantula has a fresh clean dish of water. Tarantulas can lose up to 5% of their body mass during a molt from evaporation. This loss of moisture leaves them thirsty after the molt, if they don't have access to water they can die of dehydration. Some species of tarantula will actually roll up their old exoskeleton like a food item in order to suck any remaining moisture from it as a last resort survival strategy.
You have 2 options:
(1) leave it with the mother for her to care for it; or
(2) remove it from her and incubate the eggsac yourself. Species of some female tarantulas are good mothers and take good care of the egg sacs, others are notorious for eating the eggsac at the slightest adverse condition including being disturbed. It is not recommended to remove the egg sac unless the mother has abandoned it and itâ€™s starting to smell. Usually if the egg sac goes bad the mother will eat it to regain all the nutrition that was expended producing it, this should be allowed to help her regain her strength and stay healthy.
The odds of getting an eggsac to full term and hatch arenâ€™t good, even experienced breeders typically only have a 10% success rate.
 Can I freeze crickets and then thaw them out at a later time for feeding my tarantula?
Yes, numerous keepers have reported good results with this technique. If you live a long way from a supplier or only need to purchase a few crickets at a time this would likely prove economical for you. Make sure that the crickets are brought up to room temperature after being thawed before feeding them to your tarantula(s). Be prepared that the re-heated crickets will smell bad very quickly and if not eaten by the tarantula will likely attract phorid fly's. You should remove any food not eaten within one day to minimize this risk.
 My tarantula died. What can I do with it besides just burying it?
Freeze it, it can be used as a mounted specimen later. However, be warned, tarantulas will start to smell quite bad after just one day of being dead.
 Iâ€™ve got urticating hair in my skin. What do I do?
Try applying hot water (don't burn yourself), repeat a few times. The heat opens the pores in the skin and helps release the urticating hair. Using some masking tape works too, apply to the itchy area and remove, repeat a few times. The tape will help pull out any hair that the water won't release. Those 2 methods should solve the bulk of the problem. Most cases of urticating hair itchiness subside within 1 day at the most, some species have more irritating hair than others. If you frequently have a reaction to the urticating hair of your pet tarantula, you should wear rubber dish washing gloves when working in the pets habitat.
 What works for minimizing the itching problem from urticating hair?
If you find that you are sensitive to the urticating hairs your tarantula kicks off you should wear a set of dishwashing gloves when working in the tarantula habitat. Over time a tarantula's tendency to kick off hair should decrease if worked with (handled) slowly over a few months.
It is not recommended that you use gloves when handling a tarantula. You can't feel where they are or if they have a good grip, the fangs will go right through the glove if the tarantula decides to bite. You don't want your pet falling and injuring itself.
 Iâ€™ve got urticating hair in my eye. What do I do?
See a doctor. Urticating hair in the eye can be very uncomfortable and severe cases can cause damage to the eye. When handling/working with tarantulas you should never touch your face with your hands until they have been washed thoroughly. Putting a tarantula up close to your face isn't a good idea either, the urticating hair might get blown or kicked into your face.
 Should I place my tarantula in an area that gets direct sunlight?
No, most tarantulas dislike sunlight and will hide from it. The Avicularia genus is quite susceptible to direct sunlight; even an hour directly exposed can kill them. Tarantulas donâ€™t have any way to internally control their body temperature so they physically move to another location to cool or warm themselves. If they are contained in housing exposed to direct sunlight it leaves them without cooler areas to move.
 I have a mortally wounded tarantula. What can I do to ease it's suffering?
Euthanize it. Put the tarantula in a plastic container and then place it in the freezer. It's metabolism will slow down and then it will die. Provided the specimen is not too mangled you can leave it in the freezer for a future mounting project.
 My tarantula got loose/escaped inside my house. How do I locate/recapture it?
For terrestrial species start looking under furniture or anything else on the floor that the tarantula could hide under with a good flashlight. For arboreal species start looking around the ceiling area and behind pictures and bookcases or anything they could hide behind on the wall areas. Either way if you don't find them immediately don't give up hope, cases of people finding their loose pet tarantulas alive and well weeks after escaping are very common.
One other technique that some people have found has worked is to leave a shallow dish of water on the middle of the floor in the room the tarantula escaped. Leave the room dark and wander back in around 2 AM and turn the lights on. The tarantula might be sitting by the water dish awaiting recapture.
 What type of additional heating is required for my tarantula in cold environments?
If the location where your tarantula is kept gets below 60F (50F for the Aphonopelma genus) consistently then you will need to have additional heating. A small space heater will work. Good results can also be achieved using one of the flat reptile heat pads mounted to the bottom of the tarantulas habitat. Mount the pad at one end so that if the tarantula gets too warm it can move to the other end where it's cooler. Building a spider closet, heat and humidity regulated, is also an option if you have several requiring environmental control.