Spider care

Cleaning your spider's enclosure

Tarantulas aren't messy pets so they won't require too much cleaning. They excrete fluids which dry quickly, so this doesn't make a mess or create an odour. You'll need to clean up any remaining parts of your spider's meal from the tank (i.e. leftover cricket parts) using tweezers. Clean out the cage as soon as you feel it is needed, which will probably be every few months or so.

Always transfer your spider to a secure holding container before you start to clean his tank, and wash both the outside and inside of the tank, replacing any substrate, and thoroughly clean the water dish. The water dish will need to cleaned more often to prevent it from becoming mouldy. 

Tarantulas only produce small, negligible amounts of faeces which look like tiny white packages. Because they are so small they don't need to be cleaned out as often as most other animals. 

What do I do when my spider is moulting?

Your tarantula will shed his exoskeleton several times throughout his life (moulting), and even more so when he's young, as he needs to do this in order to grow. He'll do this within his enclosure and you will notice that your spider will seal himself into his retreat with a wall of silk. He will then flip himself onto his back or side ready for the moulting process. You may notice that a few weeks prior to shedding your spider's abdomen becomes dark, which is the new skin underneath it, and he may stop eating. 

Your spider will need to be left alone at this time as it's a stressful experience for him. Any disturbance could potentially kill him. It will only take a few hours to shed the old skin, and he should then flip back over to his normal position. Making sure the temperature in the enclosure is correct at this time is very important. The new skin on your spider will be extremely delicate, so you must not touch or feed him for about a week after shedding and just provide him with fresh water. Any live feed that comes into contact with the new skin could cause damage, and it's important that the skin is left to harden. 

Can my spider be handled?

Tarantulas require very little care and being handled isn't necessary for your spider to live happily. In most cases, it's better not to handle your spider at all as it is safer for both him and yourself. If you do decide to handle your tarantula you must be very careful — tarantulas can be unpredictable, quick to move and can get away very easily, plus if they feel threatened they will bite! These bites can be quite painful, and their venom could cause a little discomfort but should never be worse than a bee sting.

The safest way to handle your spider is to pick him up between his second and third legs with your thumb and forefinger, then place him on your flat palm. Your spider may just sit still or could move quickly and you'll find yourself having to change the position of your hands to stop him from falling. Any fall from a height can kill your spider, even from as little as three foot. To avoid getting bitten and your tarantula falling, it is best to keep your spider in his enclosure and avoid handling if you can.

Another thing to be aware of is that tarantulas can also flick urticating hairs (bristles) off their abdomen with their back legs in a form of defence or attack, which can cause irritation to the eyes and the skin. They would normally do this in the wild to attack their prey or warn other animals off.

Pet care advice