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Do Tarantulas Make Good Pets? What You Need To Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Tarantulas are a popular pet. You do need to provide them with suitable habitat and regular food, but they will tolerate handling and can become quite tame. They are beautiful and intriguing, large spiders, and it is primarily the combination of their size and non-fatal venom that has given rise to their popularity as a pet species.

Read on for more details of this fascinating genus of arachnid, the pros and cons of keeping them as pets, and what you need to ensure yours has a fulfilling life. We’ve even listed 5 of the more than 1,000 species of Tarantula that would make the best pet.

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About Tarantulas

The Tarantula is actually a group of spiders, rather than a single species. There are more than 1,000 types of Tarantula and they can be found throughout North and Central Americas, much of Africa, most of Asia, and in all areas of Australia. They are a prevalent species.

In the wild, these spiders eat insects and large arthropods, while some of the larger species may actually prey on birds, snakes, lizards, and rodents. They use their sharp fangs and venom to incapacitate and kill their prey.

The bite of a tarantula is venomous but should not prove fatal to a human unless they suffer from allergies. They do have urticating hairs, which they can project at predators and that get caught in the skin and eyes, potentially causing some pain. This large spider can live 20 years or more in captivity.

Mexican Red Knee
Image Credit: 272447, Pixabay

What You Need

The popularity of Tarantulas as pets means that you can buy a lot of the equipment purpose-made. There are Tarantula tanks and specialist Tarantula substrate, for example. The best terrariums are at least a foot long and 8 inches deep. Glass is the best material for the tank. Use a heat pad to meet the temperature requirements of your Tarantula species. Coconut coir makes good substrate and you will need a water spray on hand to maintain an appropriate humidity level. Your tarantula habitat also needs a shallow water bowl, a hide, and some décor so that your spider doesn’t get bored.

Pros of Tarantulas as Pets

Tarantulas make popular pets, but are not everybody’s idea of a good housemate. Some of the benefits of keeping this large arachnid include:
  • Long Lifespan – Most species of Tarantula will live at least 20 years, and some can live much longer. This not only compares favorably to other spiders but to most other common pets.
  • Size – Spiders are fascinating creatures to observe, but some are so small or skittish that they cannot be handled. Although care needs to be taken when handling one, the Tarantula’s size is suitable for picking up and holding.
  • Minimal Space – The tank for your Tarantula doesn’t have to be huge. Most specialist containers are about a foot long, although you can provide more space than this if you have it.
  • Easy Maintenance – As long as you can maintain the right humidity and temperature, there is relatively little other maintenance beyond the general care of the spider.
  • Quiet – Even at its most alert and bright, the Tarantula is a quiet animal. It won’t wake you up running around and it has no exercise wheel to squeak.

Cons of Tarantulas as Pets

They don’t require much room and are surprisingly easy to care for, but below are some of the potential pitfalls of owning this venomous spider.
  • Venom and Urticating Hairs – The bite of most Tarantula species is painful but not fatal, but some species do have more dangerous venom so check before you buy. They also have urticating hairs. These are used as a defense mechanism and, when ejected by the spider, they can lodge in skin and eyes, and are quite painful.
  • Delicate Handling – The Tarantula is a big spider, but it is a spider nonetheless and it is quite fragile. If you drop one from too great a height, it can cause serious injury, so you do need to take care.
  • Live Feeding – They are considered easy to feed because adults only usually need to be fed once a week and can fast for a month or more, but you will have to live feed insects or the Tarantula will not eat its food.

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5 Species of Tarantula That Make Good Pets

There are over a thousand different species of Tarantula but some make better pets than others. Below are five of the best species to keep as a pet.

1. Mexican Red Knee

Mexican Redknee Tarantula
Image Credit: Audrey Snider-Bell, Shutterstock

The Mexican Red Knee Tarantula is the most popular of the species and is widely considered the best for beginners. They can live up to 30 years and can live happily in a 10-gallon tank. They are a peaceful species and one of the best for handling. This is the species of Tarantula that is most often seen in movies and on TV.


2. Chilean Rose

chilean rose hair tarantula_Foto-Rabe_Pixabay
Image Credit: Foto-Rabe, Pixabay

This is another docile species that is considered good for handling, although this should still be kept to a relatively short amount of time. While males only live about 5 years, females can live 20 years or more.


3. Costa Rican Zebra

Costa rican zebra tarantula
Image Credit: Milan Zygmut, Shutterstock

 

The Costa Rican Zebra is one of the faster species of Tarantula but this ground dweller lives for 20 years and is better suited to those owners that prefer to look at their pet spider than pick them up.


4. Honduran Curly Hair

Honduran Curly Hair Tarantula top view
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

The Wooly Tarantula, as it is also known, is a fast-growing spider that moves slowly and is one of the less fragile of the group. It has a shorter lifespan of around ten years for the female but can make a good pet choice for beginners.


5. Mexican Redleg

Mexican Redleg Tarantula on a rock
Image Credit: reptiles4all, Shutterstock

The Mexican Redleg is similar to the Red Knee. Females live 30 years and they require a hot and humid habitat in which to thrive. They can be a little jumpy, too, so extra care does need to be taken when handling this species.

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Do Tarantulas Make Good Pets?

Tarantulas are fascinating creatures and the most popular type of pet spider. But there are more than 1,000 species of Tarantula and they differ in size, color, and even speed, and preferred habitat. Some are ideally suited to novice spider keepers while others require a more experienced hand. Be aware of their venom and defensive hairs, only handle them in a safe position, and ensure that you meet their temperature, humidity, and dietary requirements, to enjoy a healthy and content Tarantula.


Featured Image Credit: Audrey Snider-Bell, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.