The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Some people really enjoy keeping exotic pets instead of caring for more traditional ones. If you find yourself drawn to pet spiders, then you might be very interested in getting a tarantula.
Tarantulas are fascinating spiders that are really quite fun to observe. If you have a tarantula now, then you might already be enjoying your time with it.
When you’re a novice tarantula owner, it’s going to be good to learn what you can about them. This will help you to take care of them to the best of your ability.
It’s a good idea to learn about how fast they grow as well as other essential information. Keep reading to get important information about these pet spiders that will help you to have the best experience caring for them.
Tarantula Growth Rates
The first thing to know about tarantulas is that they’re actually arthropods. Many people just lump them in with standard spiders, but they’re actually quite a bit different.
This is because tarantulas have a rigid exoskeleton that is incapable of stretching. Since the exoskeleton cannot grow with the tarantula, it has to be shed so that the tarantula can grow larger.
You’ll see that your pet tarantula will go through various molting periods. This is a time where the exoskeleton will be shed and the tarantula will actively start growing.
A new exoskeleton is grown, but it’ll take several molting cycles for many tarantulas to reach maturity. Each molting period will see the tarantula grow substantially.
It takes quite some time for tarantulas to reach maturity. Depending on certain factors, it could take a male tarantula between three and seven years to finish molting.
You’ll also be interested to know that most male tarantulas only live about one year after they experience their final molt. Male tarantulas are short-lived, but females are different.
A female tarantula will reach maturity between the ages of four and ten. Some female tarantulas have been known to live as long as twenty-five years, too.
Juveniles molt around four times each year. A male tarantula won’t molt again once it reaches maturity, but females will continue to molt once per year.
During this molting period, you’ll see your pet lying on its back with its feet in the air. You might be worried if your pet is okay, but it’s simply normal behavior when it’s molting.
You should also know that these arthropods sometimes stop eating around two weeks before they start molting. It’s important to leave them alone during this time.
Keeping food away from the tarantula during the molting process is imperative. Your pet will be quite vulnerable during this period of time.
So what about the growth rate? Is there a specific number that will tell you how many centimeters it’ll grow in a year?
It’s hard to say exactly what the growth rate of a tarantula is. You see, some tarantulas will grow even faster than others, and you’ve already read that how fast they reach maturity can vary wildly.
Factors such as temperature and humidity appear to play a role in how fast the tarantulas grow. Regardless, you should expect that a tarantula will grow quite a bit every time that it molts.
Popular tarantulas such as the Mexican Red Knee variety will have bodies that measure four or five inches at maturity with their legs spanning six or seven inches. They’re large arthropods at maturity, and they certainly won’t stay small for too long if you bought your pet at a very young age.
Tarantula Housing Advice
Housing your pet tarantula isn’t going to be too hard overall. One of the best things about keeping these pets is the fact that you can get them simple housing.
The enclosures that they live in shouldn’t cost you too much money overall. You’ll be able to buy what you need at a pet store that carries pet cages, habitats, and enclosures.
You’ll find that these pets don’t need incredibly large enclosures. In the wild, you’ll often find them hiding in tree hollows as they wait for night to fall.
Many people buy enclosures that are approximately the size of a standard shoe box. You might need an enclosure that is a bit larger than that depending on the size of the tarantula.
Remember that the size of these arthropods can differ a bit depending on the species that you’re caring for. That being said, none of them will require particularly large enclosures.
The best thing to remember is that you want the enclosure to be three or four times the size of the tarantula when it has its legs stretched out. You can easily measure this and determine if one of the habitats that you’re looking at is the right size or not.
Even if this seems like a small environment to you, it’s going to be perfect for the tarantula. You see, these pets use their sense of touch to figure out the environment that they’re in.
If you were to place a tarantula in a habitat that is too large, then it’d likely experience stress. This is bad for your pet, and it’s easy to avoid by just not purchasing a habitat that is too big.
How Much Do Tarantulas Eat?
Now that you know a lot more about tarantulas and how they grow, it’ll be time to think about how to care for the pet properly. Of course, you’re going to need to feed your tarantula regularly for it to thrive.
Many people assume that these arthropods will eat a lot of food. They don’t need to eat quite as much as you’d think.
Juvenile tarantulas need to be fed daily. You’ll be feeding them insects that are smaller than them that they can easily eat.
Mature tarantulas don’t need to be fed that often. You can feed them every other day.
Some pet owners say that you can feed them just a few times a week and get good results. This might differ depending on the specific species that you’re caring for.
You’ll want to ensure that you’re feeding your tarantula appropriate insects. They like to eat gut-loaded crickets, roaches, and mealworms.
Be sure that you don’t leave live food in the enclosure with the tarantula. Tarantulas are more fragile than many people think, and you wouldn’t want any uneaten food insects to harm the tarantula while it’s resting.
Aside from feeding the tarantula insects, it’s also going to be imperative to give it access to clean water. You want the water to be fresh, clean, and free of chemicals such as chlorine.
Your pet likely won’t drink water from a bowl. Most owners of these pets will place plants in the enclosure and spray them with water.
The tarantula will have no problem getting the water from the plants. As long as you stay on top of things, it’s likely that you’re going to have a good experience caring for your new pet.
Should You Handle a Tarantula?
Many people who get tarantulas want to be able to handle them. You’ve probably seen people on TV shows handling tarantulas, and you might think that this is how it will be when you’re keeping one as a pet in your home.
This is really not the recommended way to go about doing things. You might not realize this, but handling a tarantula is frowned upon.
When you handle this pet, it’s going to cause it to become stressed. The stress is so significant that it can be dangerous for both you and the tarantula.
It’s not uncommon for tarantulas to panic when being handled by humans. The tarantula could try to bite you, and this is going to be very unpleasant.
You might also cause your pet to get severely hurt or even killed. These arthropods are fragile, and many fail to realize how vulnerable they are.
Tarantulas look intimidating, but they’re really not very sturdy. If a tarantula falls from high up in the air, then it’s going to explode.
You could drop your pet from a height of three or four feet in the air while handling it. This will be enough to either significantly injure the tarantula or outright kill it.
In fact, a fall from even a few inches up in the air could seriously damage a tarantula. They really aren’t meant to fall, and their bodies can’t handle the impact at all.
You might think that the word “explode” is being used for dramatic flair, but this isn’t the case either. Tarantulas do indeed explode when dropped.
This means that they will shatter when they hit the ground, and their bodies will look as if they’re exploding. This happens because the tarantula’s abdomen will often rupture during a fall, and this will wind up shattering its exoskeleton.
So you certainly should avoid handling your new pet unless it’s absolutely necessary. For the most part, it’s never really going to be necessary to handle it.
Can Tarantulas Hurt Humans?
Tarantulas aren’t incredibly dangerous, but this doesn’t stop people from being afraid of them. They look a lot more intimidating than they really are.
That doesn’t mean that tarantulas are harmless, though. They will bite people if they get scared or feel threatened.
As mentioned above, it isn’t uncommon for tarantulas to bite people while being handled. They don’t like being handled because it makes them feel stressed and vulnerable.
If you get bitten by a tarantula, then it’s likely going to hurt about as much as a bee sting. The venom of a tarantula shouldn’t be harmful to humans unless someone is allergic.
There are people who will have substantial allergic reactions to tarantula bites. This is another reason to want to avoid putting yourself in situations where you could get bitten by one of these arthropods.
If you get bitten by a tarantula, then you can seek medical help right away. Anyone who has a reaction to a bite should seek help as soon as possible.
Another way that tarantulas defend themselves is by throwing urticating hairs or bristles. Essentially, it’s going to stab you with its bristly hair by throwing it in your direction.
This shouldn’t be incredibly harmful, but it can be a bit painful. It’s also something that can cause irritation or even allergic reactions in some people.
Is Getting a Tarantula Right for You?
After reading all of this information, it’s going to be best to consider whether getting a tarantula is right for you. It can be a good experience, but you need to have the right mindset.
Taking care of tarantulas won’t be all that hard when you take the time to learn about their needs. It’s just important to be able to do what you can to keep them healthy and in an appropriate environment.
The problem comes when people have expectations of these pets that aren’t realistic. If you want to have a pet that you can hold and play with, then owning a tarantula is not going to be appropriate for you.
These are pets that need to be observed rather than played with. You can admire the tarantula in its enclosure, but you always need to keep handling to a minimum.
It’s for the safety of your pet and yourself. If you can accept that, then you’ll probably have fun taking care of one of these pets.
Tarantulas grow pretty fast since they molt multiple times each year as juveniles. A juvenile tarantula will molt four times per year, and it’ll grow significantly each time it molts.
It can take a long time for these pets to reach maturity. It takes between three and seven years for males, and it takes between four and ten years for females.
For this reason, it’s not possible to say exactly how much a tarantula will grow in one year. It varies quite a bit, and the final size of your pet will depend on what species it is as well.
Just do your best to take care of the tarantula and everything will be fine. Remember that these pets are vulnerable during the molting process, and you’ll need to keep them safe in their enclosures.