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Care Sheets - Tarantulas - Fur N Feathers - (Powered by CubeCart)

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Tarantulas

Tarantulas

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Tarantulas
 

The Tarantula - not a true spider as their fangs do not hinge- there are over 800 different species which we are still learning about - believe it or not we don’t really know that much about tarantulas!
We do know however, that the females can live 10 years or more – some around 20-25 years with the males living a very much shorter life. 
They all produce a venom to aid in the digestion of their food but this is no stronger than a bee or wasp sting in most of them.  They tell me no-one has ever died from a tarantula bite !!! However, what is fair to say with all tarantulas is none of them need be handled.  Some species like the Chile Rose or Ecuador Pink Toe don't seem to mind and then there are the baboon spiders which are highly aggressive and will attack you without fear.
The following information is very general about tarantulas but there may be additional information about the species you have. 
Your tarantula should be housed in a fairly small tank. As hatchlings they are often housed in small glass jars.  They would generally
live in a small area called a burrow, either ground dwelling or arboreal (tree) dwelling. A huge tank would be too stressful for them and may cause them difficulty feeding or even catching their prey. The ‘pet pal’ type plastic carriers make ideal cages and are easily cleaned out and disinfected.
The viv should be cleaned out and changed only once or twice a year although the regular removal of uneaten food will help keep your
creature healthy.
To understand your tarantula try and understand how they live in the wild - basically they live in burrows or nooks and crannies in trees
(arboreal) and use silk threads to be advised of any prey coming within their catching distance.
The wires are triggered and the tarantula rushes out, catches the prey, injecting it with venom to start the digestion process and
also making the prey less able to defend itself. 

 

The tarantula then liquefies the prey before literally drinking its meal.
The digestion system has evolved with the oesophagus drawing the liquid into its sucking stomach, before its midgut and then
releasing any waste through its excretory organs.
In the wild your tarantula would feed on crickets, moths cockroaches and small vertebrates but in captivity the captive bred crickets, hoppers and meal worms are ideal although some of the larger tarantulas would take ‘pinkies’ (days old mice which you defrost and warm for them). 
The food you feed your tarantulas should be dusted with vitamins and calcium to make sure they grow strong and healthy.  There are many of these supplements (we use Nutrabal) on the market and we can ‘dust’ your crickets if required.
Depending on the size of your tarantulas they should be fed around 2 - 3 crickets every few days - although this can change in the approach to a molt when they will eat less or even nothing.   A diary should be kept showing feeding patterns etc. This will make it easier for you to get to know your tarantula and its habits and help you identify it getting ready to molt. This will also help you identify any other problem quickly so you can obtain expert advice.  Prey fed to your tarantulas should never be bigger than half its size as it may not manage the larger item or could even become stressed by the other creature living in its tank.
Any uneaten crickets should be removed - its not unknown for a hungry cricket to attack the creature it is meant to feed!  The tank to house your tarantula is called a vivarium and it requires to be heated to approximately 70 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
It should be allowed to cool slightly, even by 10 degrees, at night to give them a proper daytime/night time temperature change.   Even desert living creatures experience a change in temperature. Most houses are heated to a temperature to suit your tarantula and heat mats are only required for species requiring a particularly high temperature.
If you use a light in your tarantula’s viv them choose a red one which will not worry the tarantula at all as it does not interfere with their eye sight and allows you to watch it closely and enjoy its natural habits.   Any light should be guarded incase the tarantula burns itself.   The viv does not require any fancy planting or ornaments so any you choose are really for your preference and not the tarantulas.   A piece of rough bark or a branch is a good addition which the tarantula can climb and burrow under. Some of the Avicularis spp. are known as martinique tree tarantulas and they enjoy living up a branch in the viv.
The substrate for your viv should be something which will retain moisture and allow the creature to burrow.  

 

It should be treated so that no mites or fungi are present which could compromise your tarantula’s well being.
Never use cedar wood as this is toxic to tarantulas.
Peat is a good choice as it is moisture retentive, easily obtained and changed. This can be heated in the microwave to kill any unwanted contents and then put in the viv, quite deeply, for your tarantula to be able to burrow if that is it’s desire.
There are other substrates available such as vermiculite which is used by many enthusiasts. This is a mineral which becomes moisture retentive and free of bacteria and unwanted pests through heating to a very high temperature. Vermiculite does not offer a good base for burrowing for your tarantula as it does not hold together well and any burrows can easily fall in. It can be used in a mixture with peat to allow safer burrowing. Other substrates could be moss or bark mulch. Again these should all be treated to kill any bacteria or mites.
Tarantulas require a certain degree of humidity, particularly around the molt time. This can be achieved by regularly misting the viv
and substrate with hot water from a spray gun.
A water dish can be placed into the viv and should be pushed into the substrate so the tarantula can find it - it will only find it if
its legs come into contact with the water. I  f a water dish is used (they are not really necessary if you mist the tank) a pad of cotton wool should be placed into it to stop the tarantula drowning.
Tarantulas have their skeleton on the outside of their bodies, this is called the exoskeleton and they grow by shedding their exoskeleton when required. This is termed as molting. Different creatures molt at different times and frequency and they will molt less often as they get older.
You may notice your tarantula stops eating for some weeks prior to their molt. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about as
they have been building up reserves of food for months. You may even notice a change of colour and hair cover to the abdomen of the
tarantula before molting but probably you will only notice your tarantula lying upside down in the viv one day.  Don’t panic its getting ready to shed its old exoskeleton. You may even not notice anything until you see what you think is a second tarantula in the tank.....its only its old skin.
This is a very stressful time for your pet and you should never handle it during this time. Do not feed it either until a few days after the molt has occurred. The new exoskeleton takes a few days to harden up so your pet is very vulnerable at this time.

 


Some tarantulas do not enjoy being handled and if this is the case you should enjoy only viewing its habits and lifestyle.  Some do not mind being handled and seem to enjoy a bit of interaction with its owner. In any case never let your tarantula drop as this could kill him.

Always try to imagine how they would live in the wild and reproduce this as close as possible.

Fur’n’Feathers can give you lots of advice so don’t ever hesitate to ask. In the event of your pet being unwell seek the help
of a suitable vet - we can supply the name of a good vet in exotic species.

Remember good living conditions and diet are the most important part of looking after your pet and are your responsibility at all times.

Always be sure to wash your hands properly before and after handling your pets to keep the chance of any cross infections at a minimum.

 

 

 


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