Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula, Mexican Red-kneed birdeater Tarantulas, or “Ts,” as they are known by dedicated spider owners, are seen by some as terrifying monsters. However, for those who choose to keep them, they are seen as exotic, quiet, unique pets. Many tarantula enthusiasts speak of the joy of watching a baby spiderling grow from less than a quarter inch long, often living in a recycled pill bottle, to a full-grown adult. Tarantulas are often very easy to care for, requiring very little space. They mainly eat insects, and their feeding schedules vary. Some owners swear that it’s better to feed them irregularly, sometimes not even once a day, in order to mimic hunting in the wild. In addition, it’s common for a tarantula to fast before molting. During this time time they’re incredibly fragile, and can even be killed by the crickets left out as food! In fact, one of the surprising things about a tarantula is how delicate it is. It can drown easily, even in a water dish, and most tarantulas have particularly fragile exoskeletons. In addition, they can be easy to lose, as the adults are escape artists! Therefore, they shouldn’t be handled too much, but instead admired from their tanks. Another reason why your tarantula shouldn’t be handled too much is because most species are venomous! A typical bite transmits only about as much venom as a bee sting, but different breeds of tarantulas are more venomous than others, and some bites can be painful or very harmful. Also, a tarantula bite can be fatal to other pets. Picking your species of tarantula is particularly important, and determines much of your experience with them. For instance, a female can live up to around 30 years, but males may live only 2-5 years. There are many variations of tarantula, burrowing or aerial, suitable for beginners or more difficult, New World and Old World. New World tarantulas, those which originate from the Americas, are often differentiated by their urticating hairs, which are barbed hairs found on the back and belly. In addition to biting, these spiders can also kick these hairs off of their bodies when they feel threatened, irritating the skin and especially the eyes of whoever they land on. The largest spider in the world, Goliath Birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), belongs to the category of New World tarantulas. In addition to a venomous bite, the urticating hairs of this spider have been compared to shards of fiberglass. Old World tarantulas, meanwhile, are those typically native to Asia. They lack urticating hairs and instead use biting as their defense mechanism. These spiders however are considered less docile, and so are mainly recommended for more advanced tarantula owners.
Haplopelma lividum The typical example of an Old World pet tarantula is the Baboon Spider (Pterinochilus murinus), known amongst tarantula enthusiasts as the OBT, or orange baboon tarantula. A more difficult spider to care for that also belongs to this category is the Cobalt Blue Spider (Haplopelma lividum), known for its beautiful blue coloring. While there are many beautiful and brightly colored tarantulas, the Cobalt Blue is one of the most well-known and most unique. What do you think about owning tarantulas? What have your experiences been with these fascinating creatures? We would love to hear your thoughts!