How to Feed a Tarantula

Feeding a tarantula requires knowledge about the species and specific procedures. Here we'll tell you about them.
How to Feed a Tarantula
Sara González Juárez

Written and verified by the psychologist Sara González Juárez.

Last update: 27 February, 2023

Arachnids are either feared and hated, or adored. In the latter group we have the collectors, convinced that having one of them at home is a wonderful experience. If you are one of them, but have just embarked on this adventure, then maybe you’ve thought about getting a tarantula, or maybe you already have one. Whatever the case, we’re sure you’ll be interested in knowing how to feed a tarantula.

In this section, you’ll find basic tips on how to effectively meet your tarantula’s needs. Of course, this animal hasn’t gone through a domestication process, like a dog or cat, and so they’re more complicated to deal with. Let’s get started.

What should I feed a tarantula?

How to feed a tarantula.

These arachnids, although they aren’t venomous, base their diet on small invertebrates, just like all other arachnids in their taxonomic class. Therefore, you should choose their prey according to their size and species. When we say they’re not venomous, they can bite, and many say it’s very similar to a bee sting.

In general, an adult tarantula hunts about once a week. The size of the insects it consumes usually occupies a quarter of its body size. This is what you should reproduce in captivity.

In nature, the variety of food a tarantula eats depends on the invertebrates available in its environment, so you read up on them and get things as accurate as possible.

The most common insects you can find in specialized stores are crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers, moths and flies. You should never offer them insects that can cause them harm, such as wasps, ants, or other spiders.

The procedure for feeding a tarantula

Once you have chosen the right insects for the tarantula species you keep in captivity, it is time to learn how to feed them. To do so, follow the tips below:

  • Buy the insects, at the earliest, the day before. It is important to give them to the tarantula alive, otherwise it may reject them. Besides, stimulating their natural hunting behavior is good for them.
  • Always feed your tarantula at night. They are nocturnal animals, and disturbing them during the day will be detrimental to their health.
  • Take the insects with tweezers and place them inside the terrarium. Your arachnid will come out of its lair and hunt them.
  • If, when you open the terrarium, the tarantula climbs out, gently push it back in. Do this with a stick, so as not to stress the tarantula, and to avoid getting bitten.
  • If it doesn’t eat everything you leave it, clean up the remains afterwards. Never leave prey in the terrarium, because they will make it dirty and could cause damage to your tarantula when it’s in the molting phase.
  • You can teach your tarantula to recognize feeding time by gently tapping on the glass before placing the prey.

Buy or raise insects?

Since these invertebrates feed on other animals, there is the option of raising insects to feed your tarantula. However, remember that you will need specific knowledge to raise these insects and control their reproduction.

Some people regret raising crickets, for example, as they sing at night!

On the other hand, taking insects from nature isn’t a good option either. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that they may carry diseases or be sprayed with chemicals used in parks and crops. On the other hand, taking any animal from their environment has a detrimental effect on the ecosystem, no matter how small it may be.

Are tarantulas good pets?

A tarantula.

If you’re thinking of acquiring a tarantula as a pet, you should take several issues into consideration. The first one, already mentioned above, is that they aren’t domesticated animals. Therefore, you can’t expect them to form a bond with you, or to allow themselves to be handled every day.

The other is that, in order to bring one into your home, you’ll have to buy it. It isn’t common to find places to adopt them from, so you’ll have to find a breeder who won’t take them from the wild, which means you’ll have to pay for them. In addition, you’ll also have to find out about the legality of keeping them in the region where you live.

Another point to take into account when keeping these arachnids in captivity is how much you’ll need to research about them. Before deciding to keep a tarantula, you should find out everything about the biological makeup and needs of the tarantula species you’re going to acquire. On the other hand, it’s difficult to find veterinarians specialized in arachnids, but you should try to find one in order to guarantee their health and well-being.

Finally, watching an arachnid hunt may be a fascinating spectacle for you. However, if you’re sensitive to animal suffering, remember that, in order to feed your tarantula, you’ll have to sacrifice the lives of other creatures. If this poses an ethical dilemma for you, you may have to opt for other species to accompany you in your home.

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  • Dor, A., & Hénaut, Y. (2012). Silk use and spiderling behavior in the tarantula Brachypelma vagans (Araneae: Theraphosidae). Acta zoológica mexicana28(1), 1-12.
  • Dor, A., & Hénaut, Y. (2013). Importance of body size and hunting strategy during interactions between the Mexican red-rump tarantula (Brachypelma vagans) and the wolf spider Lycosa subfusca. Canadian Journal of Zoology91(8), 545-553.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.