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  • Richard Adams
  • October 30, 2016 12:48:27 AM
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    Friendliest Tarantula Species: What are the Most Docile Pet Tarantulas?

    Tarantulas can vary significantly in how “friendly” they are. The friendliest and most docile species can make an ideal first pet tarantula for beginners, significantly reducing the chances of losing your tarantula or getting bitten.  Before we look at the friendliest tarantula species it’s worth quickly discussing exactly what I mean by this word. Essentially ... Read moreFriendliest Tarantula Species: What are the Most Docile Pet Tarantulas? The post Friendliest Tarantula Species:...

    Tarantulas can vary significantly in how “friendly” they are. The friendliest and most docile species can make an ideal first pet tarantula for beginners, significantly reducing the chances of losing your tarantula or getting bitten. 

    Before we look at the friendliest tarantula species it’s worth quickly discussing exactly what I mean by this word. Essentially I’m including tarantulas here if they are both relatively slow-moving and very unlikely to bite. 

    Even some very docile tarantulas can actually be surprisingly fast-moving and that really doesn’t make for a stress-free tarantula keeping experience. What you want from a friendly tarantula is a “plodder” – one that moves slowly enough that their movement is easy to predict and work with.

    One important disclaimer is necessary before we get to the list of spiders: all tarantulas are unique. The species listed below are typically very docile and slow-moving, but that isn’t always the case.

     Many juvenile tarantulas move much faster than adult specimens, for example. Additionally, some will still bolt if surprised. And the odd one may even rear their fangs at you on a bad day. 

    So the point is the list below is my best approximation but you should treat any tarantula specimen with a healthy respect until you’ve satisfied yourself they really are as friendly as you’ve been led to believe.

    Aphonopelma chalcodes

    Aphonopelma chalcodes, sometimes known as the Arizona Blonde, is a stocky brown tarantula growing to an adult size of around 5” when measured diagonally across the legs (sometimes known as “diagonal legspan”). Slow moving and long-lived, Aphonopelma chalcodes can make an excellent introduction to the hobby for the more conservative owner. 

    From the perspective of a pet, there are really only two downsides to Aphonopelma chalcodes. Firstly, this species tends to be slow growing. If you save money by purchasing a juvenile specimen then expect it to be some time before it reaches adult proportions. 

    Secondly Aphonopelma chalcodes is a relatively boring brown color. That may not concern you, but there are some much more colorful species on this list if it’s of interest. 

    Brachypelma hamorii

    Traditionally known as the Mexican Red Knee tarantula, Brachypelma hamorii is the “classic” tarantula seen in books, movies and posters for decades. While they may be quite common in the hobby, don’t let this detract from the stunning colors to be found here. 

    A largely black tarantula, with bright yellow and orange “knees”, there is no doubt this is a beautiful tarantula. Like A. chalcodes they tend to be reasonably slow growing, slow moving and long-lived, with some suggestions that females may live for 2 decades or longer. They can therefore be quite a long-term investment. 

    Brachypelma hamorii is fortunately quite common among breeders so is easy to source as a captive-bred specimen. The fact that they grow so slowly can mean that larger specimens are expensive – due to the time and effort put in by the breeder – but juveniles can be picked up for quite a reasonable price. 

    Caribena versicolor

    Caribena versicolor, the Martinique or Antilles Pink Toe, is possibly one of the most beautiful tarantulas of all. Youngsters are a stunning blue, while part way through their development they achieve their adult colors – a metallic green carapace combined with rich plum-colored hairs on the abdomen and body.

    Pleasantly, Caribena versicolor also tends to be quite a friendly tarantula. I have a number of specimens in my collection, and while I don’t actively handle any of my spiders, if my C. versicolor crawls out onto my hand during feeding and maintenance it certainly isn’t a concern.

    Caribena versicolor is reasonably commonly bred these days, though the laws of supply and demand mean that larger specimens can be pricey. While spiderlings are much cheaper, they can be rather more difficult to rear than some other species. Appropriate ventilation is absolutely essential for this species, and without it spiderlings can easily pass away.

    If you’re a new tarantula keeper seeking a “friendly” tarantula to start your collection then Caribena versicolor really is something special, though I’d advise you to buy a larger specimen if you can afford it, to avoid the difficulties of rearing tiny spiderlings. 

    Grammostola pulchra

    In many ways Grammostola pulchra resembles a black version of A. chalcodes. These are pleasingly chunky, velvety jet-black tarantulas and are known to be one of the most docile species of all. They can be handled, if that is your desire, with little risk of you ever getting bitten.

    That appearance, combined with their docile nature, makes them one of the the tarantulas that every hobbyist aims to have in their collection.

    The desirability of this species can, sadly, impact the price. While they’re certainly not the most expensive tarantulas to buy, larger Brazilian Black specimens in particular can come with a hefty price tag. 

    Grammostola pulchripes

    Related to the Brazilian Black is this species – often known by the common name of Chaco Golden Knee. As the name would suggest, this friendly tarantula develops attractive yellow/gold patches on its knees. Viewed close-up this helps to make Grammostola pulchripes a very pretty tarantula indeed.

    At present, Grammostola pulchripes probably represents one of the very best friendly tarantulas on the market for a number of reasons. Firstly, the females are known to lay big eggsacs. This means a good supply in the hobby, resulting in lower prices than many of the other species discussed.

    The Chaco Golden Knee also grows slightly larger than many of the other tarantulas mentioned here. This can make them rather more visually appealing when sat in their cage. Some experts also claim that Grammostola pulchripes spends a reasonable amount of time outside their hide, simply sitting around their cage. This can add to their appeal as a “display tarantula”.

    Lastly, that subtle beauty is a thing to behold. Grammostola pulchripes may not be quite as “showy” as some other species like Caribena versicolor, but they do have a definite subdued beauty all of their own.

    Grammostola rosea

    Grammostola rosea, also known by various similar common names such as the Chile Rose, Chilean Rose Hair and Rose Haired Tarantula, is another “classic” tarantula. Indeed, this was one of the very first tarantulas I kept, back in the last 1990’s. 

    These days, however, things have changed considerably; this is no longer a cheap or readily-available tarantula, since Chile introduced a ban on the export of live specimens. Now essentially only captive-bred, the species tends to achieve similar prices to the Brazilian Black.

    Grammostola rosea is a truly beautiful tarantula, quickly developing stunning red/orange hairs all over and a distinctly fluffy appearance. 

    While they are generally considered very friendly tarantulas I have equally come across a few specimens that would happily rear up and attempt to bite. 

    As always, remember that spiders are unique. If you’re looking specifically for a docile tarantula then it is wise to have some hands-on time before you buy.

    Hommeoma chilensis 

    Hommeoma chilensis is possibly the friendliest tarantula available in the hobby. 

    This is a reasonably small tarantula when adult, and displays unusual coloring. While the majority of the body is black, a small red/orange patch develops on the abdomen. This creates quite a unique appearance that sets this species apart from others in the hobby, and has led to the common name of Chilean Flame.

    Hommeoma chilensis has developed almost mythical status in the hobby thanks to how friendly it is – in many ways the absolute perfect beginner’s tarantula. Or at least it would be if it weren’t for how difficult they are to find, how expensive they can be, and how slow growing they are. 

    Indeed after 25 years of keeping tarantulas I think Hommeoma chilensis is probably the slowest-growing species I’ve ever reared. Spiderlings I bought over a year ago are still barely a centimeter in legspan. It will be a good few years till my specimens are anything close to “adulthood”.

    While Hommeoma chilensis is therefore a fantastic, beautiful, friendly tarantula that would be welcome in any collection, you’re going to have to be patient when looking for one. 

    If you’re willing to wait then you won’t regret the day you bring home your own Hommeoma chilensis.

    Tlitocotl albopilosus

    Tlitocotl albopilosus, commonly known as the Curly Hair tarantula, is probably the “best” friendly tarantula for beginners. 

    While it’s certainly not the most colorful tarantula species available, it is regularly bred, reasonably priced and tends to be very docile. They’re also freely available so are simplicity itself to pick up from a breeder, expo or exotic pet store. 

    While juveniles can be reasonably speedy, they do start to slow down as they reach maturity. And while they are primarily a “brown” tarantula like A. chalcodes, they also have a subtle beauty to them – especially the curled hairs themselves in the right light. 

    The post Friendliest Tarantula Species: What are the Most Docile Pet Tarantulas? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati (Purple Earth Tiger) Care Sheet

    Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati is a popular and beautiful arboreal tarantula. It displays rich blue/purple legs and abdomen in natural light, coupled with rich abdominal patterning, making it a very attractive species to keep.  Maximum size is around 5-6” in diagonal leg span, making it an average-sized theraphosid.  This species is easily bred and fast-growing, ... Read moreCyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati (Purple Earth Tiger) Care Sheet The post Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati (Purple Earth...

    Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati is a popular and beautiful arboreal tarantula. It displays rich blue/purple legs and abdomen in natural light, coupled with rich abdominal patterning, making it a very attractive species to keep. 

    Maximum size is around 5-6” in diagonal leg span, making it an average-sized theraphosid. 

    This species is easily bred and fast-growing, and is subsequently quite reasonably-priced. It has quickly become a “staple” of the tarantula hobby – however it isn’t the right choice for everybody. 

    If you’re considering investing in your first specimen then read on for my detailed Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati care sheet. 

    Behavior and Lifestyle

    Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati is an easy species of tarantula to care for in captivity in my experience. It is not, however, suitable for the rank beginner as it can be reasonably fast-moving and defensive. While no accurate records exist, it is assumed that the venom is also likely to be rather “spicy” so you’ll want to avoid a bite. 

    This general attitude is borne out by the name “Hati Hati” given to this spider in it’s natural domain of Sumatra. The name translates broadly as “caution” or “warning”. So while it is a beautiful and easy species to keep, it’s definitely one to enjoy from a distance rather than one that can be safely handled.

    Lastly, having reared a number of specimens to maturity in recent years I’ve found that Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati is quite a shy species. Fiercely photophobic, they spend most of their time hiding away from view in a cork bark hide, so aren’t often seen. In my opinion they therefore don’t make a great display specimen. 

    Broadly speaking, therefore, this is probably a species best-suited to more experienced keepers who have gained some experience with faster-moving or defensive tarantulas, and who don’t expect to see their spider for weeks at a time.  

    Housing & Caging

    As Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati is not the most active of tarantulas, the caging requirements are reasonably modest. I rear my juveniles in 32oz deli cups with ventilation holes added, a thick layer of coconut fibre and a vertical piece of cork bark. 

    Adult specimens are given a similar setup, though of course the spacing should be sized up. I would suggest a minimum of 20cm wide x 20cm deep x 30cm tall for an adult specimen. Due to the speed of these spiders you may want to consider a slightly larger cage, giving you advanced warning if your spider makes a break for freedom when you’re carrying out maintenance. 

    I use glass Exo Terras for most of my larger tarantulas and these work well. Alternatively a variety of alternative options may be used including:

    • Tall plastic storage boxes (such as those sold to house breakfast cereal)
    • Customer arboreal tarantula cages as available from specialist suppliers

    Temperature & Heating

    Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati seems quite a sturdy tarantula in captivity, with temperatures north of 20’C /68‘F suiting them fine. My spider room is maintained at around 22-25’C / 72-77’F throughout the year and Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati seems to thrive in these conditions. 

    Water & Humidity

    I don’t stress about humidity levels for any of my tarantulas. My adult Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati specimens are kept in a dry environment, with fresh water available at all times in an open water bowl. 

    Juvenile Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati that are too small for a water dish are sprayed occasionally with a houseplant mister, then their cage is allowed to dry out fully before re-application. 

    This avoids an overly “wet” environment that can encourage mould/fungus and damage the health of tarantulas. 

    Food & Feeding

    Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati are healthy feeders, and as a result grow reasonably quickly. Spiderlings and juveniles in my collection are fed every 5 days or so, with adults receiving food once a week or so. 

    I have found that Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati rarely goes off it’s food unless a moult is impending, making them reliable and predictable feeders.

    While almost any feeder insects can be used, I do find that many roach species simply run away and hide down on the floor of the cage. This means your Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati may not discover their dinner.

    My preference is therefore suitably-sized locusts, which naturally tend to make their way upwards, clambering up the cork bark hide, and alerting your Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati to their presence.

    Handling & Temperament

    Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati is not a tarantula that can be safely handled. Keep your wits about you when their cage is open to prevent the risk of a bite or escapee.

    Frankly, given a suitable hide, you’ll likely find your Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati remains hidden away from view and is unlikely to cause you any issues. 

    The post Cyriopagopus sp. Hati Hati (Purple Earth Tiger) Care Sheet appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    Tapinauchenius violaceus (Purple Tree Spider) Tarantula Care Sheet

    As someone who looks for color more than anything else in my tarantulas, Tapinauchenius violaceus really hits the mark. It is clothed in silky-looking velvety hairs which, in the right light, are a brilliant metallic purple color. It really is something else the first time you see it!  A second unusual element of the Purple ... Read moreTapinauchenius violaceus (Purple Tree Spider) Tarantula Care Sheet The post Tapinauchenius violaceus (Purple Tree Spider) Tarantula Care Sheet appeared...

    As someone who looks for color more than anything else in my tarantulas, Tapinauchenius violaceus really hits the mark. It is clothed in silky-looking velvety hairs which, in the right light, are a brilliant metallic purple color. It really is something else the first time you see it! 

    A second unusual element of the Purple Tree spider are the small “dimples” on the abdomen that can become increasingly visible as specimens grow.  

    Despite this fantastic appearance, meaning no collection would be complete without at least one specimen, there are some downsides to T. violaceus that you should know.

    So let’s take a closer look at both the good and the bad in our Tapinauchenius violaceus care sheet…

    Wild Habitat

    Tapinauchenius violaceus is an arboreal tarantula from Brazil and French Guiana. It grows to a modest size of around 5” in legspan, and has an excellent growth rate.

    I’m currently rearing a number of spiderlings, with the hope that I get at least one male for a breeding project. It’s amazing to me not only how often they moult, but also how much size they obtain with each successful moult. 

    This wild environment means that a taller cage, with good ventilation and a piece of cork bark to hide in are going to be the order of the day. 

    Cages & Housing

    Tapinauchenius violaceus is quite a modest-sized tarantula as an adult, suggesting that they might be happy in a relatively small cage. The important thing to bear in mind, however, is the lightning-fast movement of this species. This can make a larger cage far more practical, as it becomes less likely that your spider will dash out of the cage when you open it. 

    I would suggest a minimum size of 20cm wide, 20cm deep and 30cm high for adults. While almost any glass or plastic container meeting these dimensions may be suitable there are a number of considerations when housing Tapinauchenius violaceus

    Ventilation – A well-ventilated cage is absolutely crucial for this species. Poor air flow should be avoided at all costs (more details below). This means that cages with mesh or grill lids are particularly suitable. If you opt to use a plastic storage container then be very generous with the number of air holes you add.

    SecurityTapinauchenius violaceus is a fast-moving species so escapees can be a major headache. Reduce the risk by ensuring tight-fitting lids and no gaps large enough that your tarantula can clamber through.

    Access – You’ll need to access the cage to replenish water, provide feeder insects and remove uneaten food. With such a skittish and fast-moving tarantula the easier you can make this on yourself the better. For this reason cages that open at the front – like Exo Terra terrariums – can be particularly practical.

    Privacy – Your Tapinauchenius violaceus should have somewhere where they can feel secure. Take into consideration how you’ll add cork bark or other decor elements to provide the required privacy. 

    Heating & Temperature

    Tapinauchenius violaceus seems far less fussy about temperature than moisture (see below). Mine are kept at an average temperature of 22-24 degrees Celsius (72 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and they seem to thrive in these conditions.

    If your home is warm year-round then no artificial heating is necessary. If, like me, you live in a colder area, then you may want to consider some form of artificial heating. 

    Water & Humidity

    Over the years I have found that Tapinauchenius violaceus is frustratingly sensitive to moist conditions. Indeed, of all the dozens of species I’ve kept in my 20+ years in the hobby I’d say that Tapinauchenius violaceus is probably the least forgiving about humidity. So let’s address this issue in depth and at length.

    An overly-wet cage is one of the fastest ways to kill your Tapinauchenius violaceus. In my experience, even when ventilation is exceptional, moist substrate can lead to serious health issues for this species. 

    Therefore I recommend a dry substrate at all times. 

    Since implementing this strategy my success rate in rearing spiderlings to adulthood has increased considerably.

    While larger specimens should have access to an open water bowl, you should mist one side of the cage of smaller specimens so they can drink. However, this misting should be very light indeed, and you should allow the cage to dry out entirely between applications.

    To reiterate – poor ventilation and/or a damp substrate is Kryptonite to this species. 

    Tank Decor

    While Tapinauchenius violaceus is in theory an arboreal species, I have found that some of my smaller specimens choose to burrow, even when a suitable cork bark hide is available. Tapinauchenius violaceus is also quite a heavy webber so may do neither and instead construct their own silken retreat.

    In terms of tank decor I would definitely ensure that at least one vertical cork bark tube is present, ensuring it is large enough for your tarantula to climb inside. Be sure this is sturdily fixed to prevent the risk of it falling over at any point. 

    In addition to this hide I feel that it is worth adding a reasonable depth of substrate to the cage – particularly for smaller/younger specimens. In this way they have the best of both worlds and can choose the most suitable area for them. 

    The most important thing is that you want your tarantula to run back to their hide, rather than out of the open door of the cage, when it comes to feeding and watering. 

    Food & Feeding

    Like other tarantulas, Tapinauchenius violaceus is carnivorous and will eat almost any living prey they can subdue. In practice this means a range of feeder insects that can be bought from exotic pet stores or ordered online. 

    Tapinauchenius violaceus is fast-growing if fed regularly. One issue is that this species is very fast moving, so retrieving any uneaten food can be a risky business. Any time you’re fishing around with your forceps there is a risk that your tarantula will come dashing up the side to make a break for freedom. That’s something you don’t want to happen with such a speedy spider. 

    My suggestion here would be to consider more moderate feeding of Tapinauchenius violaceus than with some other species. This reduces the risk that your spider isn’t hungry, meaning that you have to go and retrieve the unwanted insect. 

    Even if you don’t keep records of moults for other specimens, I think it makes sense when keeping such a lightning-fast species.

    Make a note of any specimen that goes off it’s food so you won’t have to keep fishing out uneaten feeders for weeks on end. Once your tarantula moults you can re-commence feeding.

    Over time you’ll start to see a pattern emerging, allowing you to predict when your spider is likely to go off their food next time.

    Handling & Temperament

    As a group, tarantulas from the Tapinauchenius genus are considered some of the fast-moving theraphosids of all.

    Not only does this mean that handling is entirely out of the question, but that great care must be taken whenever the cage is open.

    On several occasions I have had spiderlings dash out of their tub at lightning speed, resulting in some stressful situations. 

    If your Tapinauchenius violaceus does manage to get out of their cage then be sure to remain calm. Chasing your spider round the room is unlikely to be effective; instead it may be better to wait for them to settle somewhere and calm down.

    They will often seek out a dark area to hide away in, so putting pieces of cork bark nearby may encourage them to run inside.

    Despite their speed, I have never found Tapinauchenius violaceus to be “defensive” or “aggressive”. Instead they’re far more likely to flee than to stand their ground. 

    Lastly, in terms of temperament, I have personally found that my specimens of Tapinauchenius violaceus are very photophobic.

    While many of my other arboreal tarantulas sit perfectly still if I turn on the light in my spider room, allowing a great view, my Tapinauchenius violaceus specimens all bolt for the comfort of their hide.

    This does mean that you might not see your Purple Tree Spider quite as often as you’d like, though each time you do it’s a real thrill. 

    The post Tapinauchenius violaceus (Purple Tree Spider) Tarantula Care Sheet appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    How Fast Do Tarantulas Grow?

    One of the things that surprises many people is just how slowly tarantulas actually grow. Unlike many of the arthropods crawling around our gardens, tarantulas don’t reach maturity in a matter of weeks or even months. Tarantulas can take several years to go from spiderling to adult spider.  In a Nutshell It’s very difficult to ... Read moreHow Fast Do Tarantulas Grow? The post How Fast Do Tarantulas Grow? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    One of the things that surprises many people is just how slowly tarantulas actually grow. Unlike many of the arthropods crawling around our gardens, tarantulas don’t reach maturity in a matter of weeks or even months. Tarantulas can take several years to go from spiderling to adult spider. 

    In a Nutshell

    It’s very difficult to give a ballpark figure for how fast tarantulas grow. This is because there is a surprising diversity of tarantula species known. Some quite simply grow faster than others. 

    Environmental factors can affect the situation: tarantulas kept warmer or given more food tend to grow faster. The genders can also affect growth rates – male tarantulas may grow faster than their female siblings in some cases. All this means that a “one rule” situation doesn’t really work.

    Instead, it’s safer to give broad figures, appreciating that there will be some variation.

    Most tarantulas will grow from spiderling to adult in 2-5 years when properly fed.

    Typically males will mature sooner, at around 2 years of age, while females may take another year or two to reach maturity. 

    It is worth noting that female tarantulas can keep growing with every molt, even after reaching maturity, so the biggest female tarantulas tend to be the oldest. 

    How Often Do Tarantulas Molt? 

    In order to grow a tarantula must slough their tough exoskeleton. This process known as “ecdysis” enables the tarantula to reveal a new, larger skin beneath the old one. 

    As a result, molts are directly related to the growth of tarantulas. In short, tarantulas that molt more often typically therefore grow faster. 

    A huge range of factors can affect how often a tarantula molts. Some factors to consider are:

    Species in Question

    Some tarantulas grow faster than others. I’ve had some tarantulas like the Mexican Fire Leg (Brachypelma boehmei) and the King Baboon (Pelinobius muticus) go 18 months or even 2 years between molts on some occasion. 

    Some other species, such as many Psalmopoeus species, seem to be constantly molting and will therefore reach maturity much sooner. 

    Age/Size of the Tarantula

    Smaller or younger tarantulas tend to molt more frequently than larger or older specimens. 

    For faster growing species it is not unusual for them to molt every 3 months or so as spiderlings and juveniles. 

    As they get larger, however, this space between molts begins to extend, until at maturity a once-per-year molt is typical. 

    Availability of Food

    The more food a tarantula is given, the faster it will grow, and so the more often it will molt. This is sometimes known as “power feeding” – providing an almost never-ending supply of food to a tarantula hoping to encourage it to mature sooner. 

    Environmental Temperatures 

    Warmer temperatures typically result in faster growth rates and hence more molts. 

    I’ve noticed in my own collection that whenever we get a heatwave in summer suddenly a huge number of my tarantulas molt. The difference in temperature in my tarantula room may only be a few degrees, but it’s enough to kick-off a molting process in a lot of spiders. 

    The Impact of Lifestyle on Speed of Growth

    With so many species of tarantula in the hobby it’s hardly surprising that there is a lot of diversity in how quickly they grow. 

    Broadly speaking there are two alternative lifestyles that tarantulas take. Some are fast growing but relatively short-lived. The others are far more long-lived but slower growing. Of course there is still a fair amount of diversity here.

    If you buy a fast-growing tarantula you need to accept that your tarantula probably won’t live as long as some other species. Equally, the frustration of rearing a slow-growing tarantula can be tempered by the realisation that you’ll probably have the specimen for decades to come yet (assuming it’s a female).

    Examples of Fast Growing Tarantulas

    At this point it’s probably useful to highlight some fast growing tarantula species in case that’s what you’re looking for.

    Males may mature in 2 years, sometimes even as little as 18 months. And females typically aren’t too far behind when fed liberally.

    As you’ll see, many are hobby favorites, and due to their fast rates of growth tend to be bred frequently and reasonably-priced to purchase, even at quite large sizes.

    Orange Baboon (Pterinochilus murinus) – Always a popular choice among more experienced keepers. Super-easy to rear as they like a dry environment with good ventilation. Their fiery attitude means they’re probably not the most suitable spider for beginners. I’ve had males reach maturity easily in 18-24 months.

    Indian Ornamentals (Poecilotheria genus) – Pretty much all members of the Poecilotheria genus are fast-growing and can reach maturity in just a couple of years. Having said that I have personally found Poecilotheria metallica seems rather slower-growing than others like P. regalis, P. ornata and P. refulilata.  

    Salmon Pink Birdeater (Lasiodora parahybana) – This big, impressive tarantula which is clothed in beautiful pink hairs can put on mind-blowing growth spurts. Seriously, if you buy one take two photos a year apart and see just how much size it’s put on. Even better, as Salmon Pink Birdeaters can reach 8-9” across the legs they just keep going, getting bigger and bigger for years to come! 

    Brazilian White Knee (Acanthoscurria geniculata) – This is a tarantula that always seems to have an appetite. I’ve tested it, offering a suitably-sized locust to a specimen every day. It ate every time until it finally went off food before a molt. Understandably a tarantula that will eat daily will find it easy to grow fast.

    Psalmopoeus Genus – There are a number of popular members of the Psalmopoeus genus including the Venzuelan Suntiger (Psalmopoeus irminia) and the Trinidad Chevron (Psalmopoeus cambridgei). They’re all beautiful in my opinion, and even a spiderling can reach a legspan of several inches within a year to eighteen months.  

    Examples of Slow Growing Tarantulas

    At the other end of the spectrum are tarantulas that grow slowly but are notably more long-lived. In some of these I’ve waited 4 years or more for a male to reach maturity, with frequent periods of 6 months or more between molts even as juveniles. 

    These slow rates of growth can mean that while they’re reasonably priced to buy as a spiderling the price increases at a breakneck speed as the tarantula grows. This is simply a function of how much time and effort has gone into rearing it to that point. 

    Brachypelma Genus – Brachypelma tarantulas, which include the well-known Mexican Red Knee (Brachypelma hamorii), are recognised as being some of the longest-lived tarantulas around. Females have been known to live over 20 years on occasion. As you might expect, therefore, they can be quite slow-growing. 

    Grammostola Genus – While there is some variability within this genus, most of the commonly-kept Grammostola tarantulas are very slow growing. This includes Grammostola rosea, G pulchra and G pulchripes. Prepare to be the very model of patience. At the time of writing I have a juvenile Grammostola pulchripes that hasn’t molted for 8 months, when many of the fast-growing species I keep would have molted twice or more in that time period. 

    Brazilian Blue (Pterinopelma sazimai) – Have you ever wondered why the Brazilian Blue is so commonly and cheaply found as a spiderling, but that larger specimens can be eye-wateringly expensive? Yep, it’s because of how slow they grow. I’ve been rearing some P. sazimai alongside a range of other species – such as Psalmopoeus irminia – and the Brazilian Blues are a fraction of the size of the others. Indeed, roughly 15 months since I bought them as newly-hatched spiderlings they measure a legspan of only 3-4cm.  

    Chilean Flame (Hommeoma chilensis) – I am rearing a number of spiderlings of this species at present. They were purchased over a year ago and still measure only a centimeter or so in legspan. In fact, I’d say that after 25 years of rearing tarantulas it is H chilensis that is the slowest-growing species I’ve ever kept.  

    Conclusion: How Fast Do Tarantulas Grow?

    Tarantulas grow a lot more slowly than many people realize, typically taking 2 -5 years to reach maturity. During that time they may change their skin anything from every 2-3 months to up to 6 months or more. The bigger the tarantula gets, the greater the period of time between molts. 

    Even within tarantulas there is some variability, meaning that some species grow much faster than others. Additionally, male tarantulas, those kept warmer and fed more typically grow much faster than a female kept at cooler temperatures and fed less often. 

    The post How Fast Do Tarantulas Grow? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    Do Tarantulas Eat Mice?

    Tarantulas are carnivorous invertebrates that survive by catching and eating other animals. In nature tarantulas most commonly eat suitably-sized insects, however they are known to eat almost anything that comes within range and is small enough to subdue. This can sometimes include lizards and baby birds if the opportunity arises. But do tarantulas eat mice? ... Read moreDo Tarantulas Eat Mice? The post Do Tarantulas Eat Mice? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    Tarantulas are carnivorous invertebrates that survive by catching and eating other animals. In nature tarantulas most commonly eat suitably-sized insects, however they are known to eat almost anything that comes within range and is small enough to subdue. This can sometimes include lizards and baby birds if the opportunity arises. But do tarantulas eat mice?

    Tarantulas Eating Mammals

    A large and hungry tarantula is perfectly capable of catching and eating a mouse if the opportunity arises. However this is a risky meal. Mice have sharp teeth and claws, and so can pose a real danger to a tarantula. A cricket is a far safer potential meal, having far less ability to fight back. 

    Probably the best answer to the question “do tarantulas eat mice?” is therefore that they can but generally don’t

    But this is in nature. So what about pet tarantulas?

    Do Pet Tarantulas Eat Mice?

    Most tarantula owners feed their pet a range of feeder insects, such as cockroaches, crickets and morio worms. These feeder insects contain all the nutrition needed by a pet tarantula, and most thrive on an insect-only diet. 

    A small handful of owners however do feed mice to their tarantulas. The theory goes that a mouse is a large and nutrient-packed meal for a tarantula. Some keepers believe this helps a tarantula to grow more rapidly (though there is no scientific evidence this is the case). Furthermore mouse-feeders claim it can be useful for “fattening up” an underweight tarantula – such as one that has recently laid eggs or molted. 

    Feeding mice to tarantulas is certainly not required, but it is a possibility if you so desire. Before you nip off to your local pet store, however, you should read the hints and tips below so you understand fully what you could be letting yourself in for…

    Pros and Cons of Feeding Mice to Tarantulas

    Feeding a mouse to your pet tarantula may sound “cool” but there are a number of things you should be aware of. 

    Mice Can Be Dangerous to Tarantulas

    The biggest concern when feeding mice to tarantulas is that they can harm the spider. Even relatively small rodents have teeth and claws and for obvious reason will fight to avoid getting eaten. This has the potential to harm or even kill even a large tarantula. Feeding mice therefore comes with significant risk.

    However the danger doesn’t stop there. If your tarantula isn’t hungry, or decides that the mouse isn’t worth the effort, then the mouse may instead nip at the spider. You certainly don’t want the tables to turn, with the mouse eating your pet tarantula rather than the other way around.

    Dead and Thawed, Not Live

    The risk that live mice pose to tarantulas means that only dead mice should be fed to tarantulas. In this way they will be unable to fight back and endanger your pet. 

    Fortunately it’s simplicity itself to buy dead mice from most reptile stores. Purchase them frozen, then simply thaw them out at home before offering one to your spider. 

    Dead Mice Stink

    One great reason not to feed mice to your pet tarantula is that they can stink. Honestly, it’s revolting, and can completely take over a room. 

    It is also important to appreciate that tarantulas are not snakes. While a snake will swallow a mouse whole, tarantulas have an entirely different way of eating. They inject venom and digestive enzymes into their prey, squish it all up in their fangs and then suck out the juices.

    Not only does this way of feeding really help to release the full odour of the mouse, but it also means there is a good chance of literal blood and guts spilling over the inside of your tarantula cage. Not really the most pleasant thing to watch, even for the most passionate tarantula keeper.

    Prepare to Clean the Cage

    A tarantula that eats a mouse will normally make a whole load of mess. And this mess, as discussed, can stink. It therefore means you’ll almost-certainly have to clean your tarantula’s cage soon after feeding it a mouse. 

    Clearly routine feeding of mice simply isn’t practical or you’d be constantly having to scrub out your tarantula cage – or simply get used to the disgusting smell and mess in the cage. 

    How to Feed Mice to a Pet Tarantula

    As should be clear by now, while tarantulas are capable of eating mice, it’s probably best not to bother. If your mind’s made up, however, here are some handy hints based on my own experience of feeding mice to tarantulas:

    Go Small

    The bigger the mouse you feed your tarantula the more mess will be produced. If you’re just dabbling in feeding mice to your tarantula then consider starting with a small specimen, such as a pinkie or fuzzy mouse. I wouldn’t go straight into offering a full-size mouse. You can always scale up in the future once you see how your spider handles the experience. 

    Thaw the Mouse Out

    Sorry to state the obvious, but just to be clear, any mice fed to tarantulas should be (a) dead and (b) defrosted. There are two main ways to do this – either leave the mouse carcass out on the side at ambient temperatures or place it into a plastic bag and suspend it in warm water. 

    Warm the Mouse Up

    While some tarantulas will happily scavenge for food in their cage, a “warm” mouse may be more appealing for some tarantulas. Placing the dead mouse into warm water for a few minutes is probably the easiest way to do this. 

    Consider Tong Feeding

    Every minute that a dead mouse is left in a warm tarantula cage can add to the decomposition, and hence the smell. You may therefore want to consider tong-feeding your tarantula. 

    Using long forceps or suchlike, gently move the mouse around in front of your tarantula, trying to elicit a hunting mechanism from it. 

    Once your spider has grabbed the mouse then you’re over the first hurdle. 

    Use a Food Bowl

    An alternative to tong feeding, if you have an aggressive or fast-moving tarantula for example, is to place the dead mouse into a food bowl of some type. 

    Placing the mouse onto the tarantula’s substrate is best avoided, as liquids can leach out leading to additional cleaning. 

    Also, if your tarantula doesn’t eat the mouse it’s a lot easier to remove in a food bowl than trying to pick up with your fingers or tweezers. 

    Watch for the Discarded Corpse

    Assuming your tarantula does accept the dead mouse it is likely that a fair amount of mess will be created. It’s worth therefore keeping a regular eye on your tarantula so you can remove the discarded body when your tarantula has had their fill. 

    Clean Thoroughly 

    Lastly be prepared to give your tarantula cage a thorough clean as necessary. At the very least remove any tainted substrate and wipe and blood off the sides of the tank. A larger meal may mean you have to pretty much clean out the entire cage. Ignore this at your own risk, as the smells that permeate can be quite potent, especially in warm weather. 

    The post Do Tarantulas Eat Mice? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    Can Two Praying Mantis Live Together?

    Generally speaking praying mantis are solitary insects. The vast majority of praying mantis are not just carnivores, they are also cannibals. This means that attempting to keep two more praying mantis together tend to end in tears – and in one fat mantis.  While there are a few exceptions it is safest to assume that ... Read moreCan Two Praying Mantis Live Together? The post Can Two Praying Mantis Live Together? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    Generally speaking praying mantis are solitary insects. The vast majority of praying mantis are not just carnivores, they are also cannibals. This means that attempting to keep two more praying mantis together tend to end in tears – and in one fat mantis. 

    While there are a few exceptions it is safest to assume that two praying mantis cannot live together for fear of them eating each other.

    Do Adult Praying Mantis Eat Each Other?

    Praying mantis are probably most famous for the female’s willingness to eat her mate. While studies in the wild show this doesn’t happen on every mating, it does happen a fair amount of the time. 

    Perhaps this is why there is little in the way of courtship for praying mantis. The males tend to be much smaller and want to avoid getting eaten if possible. Instead of a big show they tend to silently creep up behind their chosen mate before pouncing on her from behind.

    While this is the best-known example of praying mantis eating each other, in truth a hungry praying mantis will eat any living creature that it can catch – assuming it isn’t toxic or distasteful. 

    This means that adult praying mantis will happily eat each other given a chance, even when no mating is involved. 

    This is most likely where two or more praying mantis are trapped in a confined space such as an enclosure at home. Here there is simply nowhere for the mantis to hide or escape from one another, and it becomes almost inevitable that one will eat the other.

    Do Baby Praying Mantis Eat Each Other?

    You might assume that cannibalism is confined to adult praying mantis. You might think that babies will be far more gregarious. But that isn’t always the case.

    On hatching most baby praying mantis have little in the way of appetite. As a result their brothers and sisters don’t appear as a tasty morsel. However within days, if not hours, that all changes.The baby mantis develop an appetite, and watch out any other small mantis sitting nearby. 

    For exotic pet keepers breeding praying mantis this hatching period can be crucial. The egg case will suddenly erupt with tiny ant-like baby mantis. After a short while the mantis will begin to disburse. They can be kept together for a short while, however soon enough it will become obvious that numbers are dwindling and they must be separated. 

    Can I Keep Pet Praying Mantis Together?

    There are a handful of pet praying mantis species that can be kept communically. However these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Most commonly-kept praying mantis species will almost inevitably eat one another, so should be kept alone. 

    The same goes for wild-caught praying mantis. While it can be tempting to gather up a wild mantis you find in your yard and keep it as a pet, be sure to house them separately to avoid a nasty accident.  

    Which Praying Mantis Will Live Together?

    Exotic pet keepers are a creative bunch and are constantly experimenting with different species. So far, only a handful have been found that can be kept together. 

    An important caveat is necessary however – even these “communal” praying mantis can end up eating one another in some circumstances. If you try to keep any praying mantis together, therefore, you should accept that you’re taking a chance. 

    That said here are some mantis that have been kept together successfully in the past by hobbyists…

    Ghost MantisGhost mantis are probably the best-known mantis that can be kept together. Ghost mantis are reasonably easy to keep, come in a range of colors, and achieve only modest dimensions. As a result a small number of them can easily be kept in a reasonably-sized cage if you so desire.

    Miomantis / Flower Mantis – Less commonly kept together are the flower mantis of the genus Miomantis. These are small, stunningly-beautiful insects, and tend to be more expensive to buy than ghost mantis. They are well worth keeping though, even if you opt for only a single specimen – and they are some of the most attractive praying mantis around.

    Why Do Praying Mantis Eat Each Other?

    Praying mantis typically live quite short lives. In temperate areas, for example, praying mantis tend to overwinter inside a specially-constructed egg case known as an ootheca. The ootheca has a foam-like outer coating which prevents the eggs inside from freezing over winter.

    As the weather warms up in spring the baby mantis hatch. 

    They then eat, and eat, and eat. 

    Their goal is to reach maturity as soon as possible – typically in the summer months. 

    They then go on to produce the next generation before generally dying as the temperatures drop in fall.

    All this means that praying mantis are quite short-lived and need to grow as rapidly as possible. This gives them an insatiable appetite, and means they will eat almost anything they can catch. Even other praying mantis.

    While it can seem barbaric, the reality is that the offending mantis is really only following their biological rulebook and trying to grow to adulthood as quickly as possible. 

    How Do You Keep Praying Mantis Together?

    If you decide to try keeping praying mantis together then there are a number of basic tips you should bear in mind.

    Choose the right species – As mentioned above, only a small number of praying mantis species can be kept together. The first step if you want to keep praying mantis communally is selecting the right species. Don’t make the mistake of assuming any and all praying mantis can be successfully kept together as this most certainly isn’t the case.

    Select similar-sized specimens – Attempting to keep a number of hatchling praying mantis with a much larger specimen is unlikely to be successful. It is best to pick only specimens of a similar size if you’re going to try such an experiment. 

    Provide plenty of space – The more space your praying mantis have to avoid each other the less likely it is they will cannibalize each other. The general rule for a single praying mantis is to provide a space that is at least twice as wide as the mantis is long, and at least three times as high. However when keeping praying mantis together I recommend providing far more space for each specimen. 

    Offer spare perches – It’s not just space you should be generous with. Offer a host of different perches inside your praying mantis cage to once again make it easier for your pets to avoid one another. 

    Be generous with your feeding – Lastly, a hungry mantis can be a dangerous thing to other cage mates. It is wise therefore to be generous with your feeding. In this way, there should be a handy feeder insect nearby when your praying mantis next develop an appetite. As a result, his or her siblings should hopefully not look quite so appealing.

    The post Can Two Praying Mantis Live Together? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


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