Tarantula Spider Information
Tarantula Spiders as Pets
photo copyright C. Shillington
The information below is general and there may be a difference between species.
As always, check with the breeder where you bought your spider as to the
conditions of care.
Tarantulas make interesting pets and can be useful as well.
They have been placed in windows to keep unwanted people away such as the
jewelry storeowner who was robbed many times. He purchased a tarantula to
keep in his display case at night and he hasn't been robbed since.
Many people believe that tarantulas are deadly poisonous.
This is not so. The tarantula secretes a fluid through the salivary glands,
which is injected into its prey using their fangs. The fluid is actually
a digestive enzyme, which digest the prey from the inside out, which turns
the tissues into liquid. The tarantula sips his liquid out of the shell of
the victim, which is undigested. These secretions will kill insects, young
birds, and mice but will only cause pain and swelling in humans. All-American
tarantulas have eight eyes; eight legs a pair of mouthparts called pedipalps
and fangs. Caution must be used in handling, but some species will allow
you to pick them up.
Tarantulas molt as many as nine times in some species. Molting
involves cell destruction, construction and rearrangement. When the final
molt is finish the reproductive organs have been developed. Some tarantulas
approach death at sexual maturity, the female, after her eggs are laid may
die. But as a rule, some may live up to 25 years.
A tarantula may be kept in a 10-gallon tank with a screen
top. Make sure you don't forget the screen. They may look calm but can jump
out of a tank very quickly. You will need incandescent lighting fixtures
and gravel for flooring. The tank should be kept at 70 to 75 degrees during
the day, but can drop to 60 degrees. The incandescent light helps to keep
the cage dry so use it even in hot, humid summer weather. Many species require
humid environments and the light can actually be very harmful. Sink a small
dish for water into the gravel and keep a small piece of sponge in it. Be
sure to put a rock in the cage for burrowing. You will find webbing in the
cage. This is because the tarantula will spin but won't inhabit the web.
Your tarantula can exist on crickets but they will only
eat them if they are alive. You can purchase the crickets and keep them in
a coffee can with holes in the top. Sprinkle corn meal in the bottom and
add a slice of potato or apple for them to eat and keep them in a warm place.
This should keep them alive for about a week.
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