Getting Started With Pet Tarantulas: A Beginner’s Guide to Care and Creating the Ideal Habitat

Discover the best beginner tarantulas and learn how to care for your pet spider with our comprehensive guide.

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Here’s an essential introduction to tarantula care, species selection, and crafting the perfect environment for a tarantula.

Diving into the world of pet spiders can be an exciting adventure, and tarantulas are the perfect choice for beginners looking to welcome a fascinating arachnid into their homes.

While spiders like the tarantula have received a negative image thanks to movies and TV, they are very easy pets to take care of and can be loved like any other house pet.

This comprehensive guide will introduce you to the best beginner tarantulas, offering essential information to help you confidently embark on your journey as a pet spider owner. From understanding the unique needs of these captivating creatures to providing suitable care and creating an ideal environment, Petful has you covered every step of the way.

Join us as we explore the world of beginner tarantulas, offering insights and advice tailored specifically for first-time pet spider enthusiasts.

How to Build a Tarantula Habitat
Tarantulas are quite calm as pets. Photo: xoque

A Few Things to Know About Tarantulas

Getting a pet tarantula is a big deal. These docile and hardy spiders make for great first pets and are incredibly fun to care for. The popularity of tarantulas as pets has steadily increased in recent years, attracting the interest of many prospective pet owners.

Although tarantulas possess venom, they rarely bite and their venom is typically no more harmful than a bee sting.[1] Generally, they are slow-moving creatures that bite only when they feel threatened.[2]

Contrary to their intimidating appearance, tarantulas tend to be docile pets, making them an appealing choice for many. Hundreds of tarantula species can be found across the globe, including North America, Europe, Australia, Africa, southern Asia and South America, which holds the highest concentration.

Male tarantulas usually have a life span of 10-15 years, while females can live up to 30 years.[3] In their natural habitats, these fascinating creatures either burrow into self-dug tunnels in the ground or dwell in trees, crafting nests from spun silk.

First, watch this video to learn how to pick up a pet tarantula with your hand

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The Top Tarantula Species for Beginners

When it comes to choosing pets for novices, first-timers and children, certain tarantulas are more suitable than others. These best beginner tarantulas are known for their docile nature and easy care requirements, making them perfect for first-time pet spider owners.

Here are some of the top beginner tarantulas to consider and the reasons they make great pets:

1. Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula

Often considered the quintessential beginner tarantula, the Chilean Rose Hair is known for its docile temperament and relatively low maintenance. Its striking appearance, featuring a mix of pinkish and brown hues, adds to its appeal as a pet.

2. Mexican Red Knee Tarantula

This visually striking species, with its vibrant red and black markings, is another popular choice for beginners. Mexican Red Knees are known for their calm demeanor and slow growth rate, giving people plenty of time to learn about tarantula care.

3. Curly Hair Tarantula

With its distinctive, curly hair covering its body, this Central American species is an excellent choice for novice owners. Curly Hair Tarantulas are hardy, adaptable and relatively easy to care for, making them well suited for those new to pet spiders.

4. Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula

The Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula holds the title of the most sought-after pet tarantula, captivating people with its distinctive appearance. Most of this spider’s body is black or brown, but the tips of its legs boast a striking pink or orange hue. The body may occasionally exhibit a blue, green or magenta sheen.

Originally hailing from Martinique, these tropical spiders are now commonly bred in captivity. As tree dwellers, they thrive in a taller-than-wide tank setup, complete with branches or corks for climbing. Keep in mind that tree-dwelling tarantulas tend to be fast and nimble, which can make them a bit trickier to handle.[4]

Another notable aspect of their care is the need for high humidity, with an optimal level of around 80%.

How to Care for Your Pet Tarantula

Caring for these eight-legged creatures might initially seem overwhelming, but it’s a rewarding and doable experience. We’ll walk you through beginner tarantula care’s essential do’s and don’ts.

Follow our tips and tricks, and watch your new pet thrive in its new environment.


Tarantulas primarily feed on live insects, such as:

  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Roaches

The feeding frequency varies depending on the tarantula’s age, size and species, but generally, feeding once or twice a week is sufficient.[5] Remove any uneaten prey within 48 hours to maintain a clean environment.


Providing a shallow water dish in the enclosure is essential for keeping your tarantula hydrated. Make sure the dish is not too deep to avoid drowning risks and keep the water fresh by changing it regularly.

Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperature range for most beginner tarantulas is 70-85 F (21-29 C).[5] A heat mat can help maintain proper temperature levels, especially in colder climates. Humidity requirements vary by species, so research the specific needs of your tarantula before bringing them home.

Maintain proper humidity by misting the enclosure or using a suitable substrate.


As tarantulas grow, they undergo a molting process during which they shed their exoskeleton. Molting can be stressful for the spider, so it’s essential to avoid handling your tarantula during this time.

Enclosure Maintenance

Regularly clean the tarantula’s enclosure to prevent the buildup of waste and mold. Spot clean as needed, and perform a thorough cleaning every few months. Be cautious when cleaning to avoid stressing or injuring your tarantula during the cleaning process.

Following these care guidelines, even first-time pet spider owners can confidently care for their beginner tarantulas. Always research the specific needs of your chosen species to ensure you’re providing the best possible environment.

Speaking of the environment, let’s look at how to set up the ideal one for your new pet.

Creating the Ideal Tarantula Habitat

Setting up the perfect home for your beginner tarantula is crucial to successful pet spider ownership. Perfecting your spider’s new home means carefully considering their specific needs and wants to replicate its natural environment.

Here are a few tips for designing the ideal tarantula habitat, ensuring that it meets the requirements of the best beginner tarantulas and remains a suitable space for first-time pet spider owners:

  • Tarantulas can be housed in various enclosures, such as glass tanks (at least 20 gallons), acrylic enclosures or plastic containers. The size of the enclosure will depend on the species and size of your tarantula, but it should provide ample space for movement and exploration.
  • The substrate, or bedding, in your tarantula’s enclosure should be chosen based on the species’ specific requirements. Coconut coir, peat moss or a blend of these materials are commonly used for beginner tarantulas.
  • Tarantulas appreciate having hiding spots and climbing opportunities in their habitat. Provide a half-log, cork bark or a small cave-like structure for terrestrial species. For arboreal species, offer branches, cork tubes or other climbing structures to create a vertically oriented environment.
  • As mentioned earlier, the ideal temperature range for most beginner tarantulas is 70-85 F (21-29 C). A heat mat can help maintain appropriate temperatures, but avoid using heat lamps, as they can be too harsh for tarantulas.
  • Tarantulas do not require special UV lighting, so ambient room light is typically sufficient. Avoid bright lights.
  • Proper ventilation is a must for maintaining a healthy habitat. The enclosure should have adequate airflow through mesh screens or vents. This will help prevent problems with mold and stagnant air.

You can buy and fill an existing structure, or build one yourself:

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How to Clean the Habitat Properly

Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment creates a longer lifespan for your pet tarantula. Proper cleaning practices help prevent the growth of mold, mites and harmful bacteria.

This section will guide you through the tips to clean your tarantula’s habitat effectively and safely.

Spot Clean Regularly

Perform spot cleaning as needed, typically every few days or once a week. This involves removing uneaten prey, cleaning up waste, and disposing of moldy or decaying organic material.

Use a pair of tongs or tweezers to handle waste and uneaten food to minimize stress on your tarantula and maintain a safe distance.

Set a Schedule for a Full Clean

Every few months, or as required, thoroughly clean the entire enclosure. Carefully transfer your tarantula to a secure, temporary container during cleaning to keep it safe and reduce stress.

Disinfect the Enclosure

Remove all substrate and decorations from the enclosure. Clean the enclosure with a mild, reptile-safe disinfectant, and rinse thoroughly with water. Make sure the enclosure is completely dry before adding a new substrate.

Replace Substrate

During a deep clean, add fresh substrate to the enclosure, ensuring it meets the specific humidity requirements of your tarantula species. Spread the substrate evenly, creating a layer deep enough for burrowing if your tarantula is a terrestrial species.

Reassemble the Habitat and Return Your Tarantula

Place climbing structures and other decorations in the enclosure, creating a comfortable and engaging environment for your tarantula. Once the enclosure is clean and dry, carefully return your tarantula to its home. Monitor your pet closely for any signs of stress or discomfort (hiding, aggressive stance, etc.).

Handling and Interaction With Your Tarantula

While tarantulas may not be as social or interactive as other pets, they can still be handled carefully under the right conditions. Proper handling techniques and understanding the limits of interaction will be vital to creating a relationship with your new pet.

Different tarantula species have varying levels of tolerance for handling. Some species, like the Chilean Rose Hair, are known to be more docile and suitable for occasional handling. Other species may be more defensive or skittish. Always research your specific tarantula species to understand their temperament.

But no matter which species you choose, tarantulas are delicate creatures, and sudden movements or loud noises can stress or startle them. Handle your tarantula gently, and avoid handling it when it appears agitated or defensive.

When you do go to handle it, allow your tarantula to walk onto your hand rather than grabbing or lifting it. Keep your hand movements slow and steady, and always handle your tarantula over a soft surface, such as a bed or carpet, in case it falls. Maintain a low height above the ground to minimize the risk of injury.

What to Feed Your Pet Tarantula

Tarantulas primarily consume various insects, such as crickets, grasshoppers and beetles.[6]

However, feeding your tarantula doesn’t need to be a frequent task. Tarantulas typically eat once or twice a week, while larger species may consume up to six insects per week.

Provide a water dish about ½ inch deep, and ensure you change the water regularly.

Tarantulas are excellent at self-regulating their dietary needs, meaning you won’t have to worry about overfeeding them. Remove it from the enclosure if they haven’t consumed their prey within 48 hours.

Watch for signs of a shrinking abdomen, which may indicate underfeeding or dehydration. In such cases, consult an exotics veterinarian for guidance.

What to Feed Your Pet Tarantula
Tarantulas eat a variety of insects and bugs. Photo: Stelogic

Health Issues and Potential Problems

Like any pet, tarantulas can encounter health issues and face various life challenges. As a responsible tarantula owner, it’s essential to be aware of these potential problems and know how to address them.

A few common health issues and problems that can pop up in a tarantula’s life include:

  • Unsuccessful molting
  • Dehydration
  • Parasites or mites
  • Injuries from falling or a failed molting
  • Stress
  • Infections

As a tarantula owner, your pet’s health should be a top priority. Luckily, by staying vigilant and acting when needed, you can keep your eight-legged friend feeling great. Whether through routine check-ups or seeking professional medical attention, your tarantula’s well-being is in your hands.

Thirsty after a molt, this pet tarantula drinks water. Photo: Tarantuland

How Tarantulas Molt

Molting is a process similar to how snakes shed their skin.

As the tarantula grows, it needs a larger outer body. You may be able to predict the onset of molting by noting a change in the abdomen color and the spider’s refusal to eat.

Molting can take several minutes or several hours, and this incredible process also allows the tarantula to regenerate internal organs and missing limbs.

This is a critical time for the tarantula that requires special care on your part:

  • The body will be extremely fragile until its new exterior hardens, so don’t handle the spider for at least 1 week.
  • Also, avoid live feeding for a few days — even a seemingly harmless cricket or grasshopper can injure the tarantula in this molting state.

Can I Breed My Pet Tarantula?

If you are thinking of breeding tarantulas, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • First of all, mating can be dangerous for males (see “Fun Facts” below).
  • And, get this: The average reproduction can produce 500 to 3,000 offspring!

But if you have your heart set on a tarantula village, please seek professional advice before beginning breeding.

Expert educator Brian Kleinman explains more in this video:

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Keeping one of the best beginner tarantulas as a pet can be a rewarding and fascinating experience.

As you venture into the world of pet spiders for beginners, research and understand the unique needs of these remarkable creatures. Providing proper care, creating the ideal habitat and learning how to handle your tarantula responsibly will ensure a happy and healthy life for your eight-legged companion. Whether you’re a seasoned arachnid enthusiast or just starting to explore the world of tarantulas, these incredible creatures offer a captivating and low-maintenance pet option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are tarantulas dangerous to humans?

Although tarantulas do have venom, they rarely bite and their venom is typically no more harmful to people than a bee sting. They are generally slow-moving creatures that bite only when they feel threatened.

What are the best beginner tarantulas?

The best beginner tarantulas include the Chilean Rose Hair, Mexican Red Knee, Curly Hair and Antilles Pink Toe tarantulas. These species are known for their docile nature and easy care requirements.

What do tarantulas eat?

Tarantulas primarily feed on live insects, such as crickets, mealworms and roaches. The feeding frequency varies depending on the tarantula’s age, size and species.

How can I tell if my tarantula is sick?

Signs of a sick tarantula can include a shrinking abdomen, indicating underfeeding or dehydration, changes in behavior, issues with molting and visible parasites. If you suspect your tarantula is sick, it’s best to consult with an exotics veterinarian.