Whilst there are over 800 recognized species of tarantula and of those well over a hundred of them are available in the pet trade there are really only a small number of very common tarantula species. These are the species which are generally found in most reptile stores, are cheap to buy, easy to care for and generally are reasonably docile too.
Therefore if you’re considering buying your first tarantula one of these handful of species can really make an ideal choice for you as a starter species – just be aware that keeping tarantulas can be addictive and so it is likely that within a few years (or even months) you will be wanting to expand your collection to include some of the more unusual and colorful species currently available.
Chile Rose (Grammastola spp.)
The Chile Rose has a number of permutations of it’s name from the Chilean Rose Haired Tarantula to the Rose Haired Chilean spider but all these different variations of the name really describe this one, tremendously popular species.
Most of the Chile Rose tarantulas sold in pet stores are actually wild caught because this is sadly the cheapest way for pet stores to get hold of them. As they are so common is generally isn’t worth the time and effort required to actually captive breed this species as it is very difficult to break even on all the effort. However if you’re like me and want captive bred specimens wherever possible some searching may reveal youngsters that a hobbyist has bred.
The Chile Rose tarantula comes in two main color forms – the “normal” brown color and the “flame” color which is far redder and more colorful overall. The normal color is far easier to get hold of while the red form is a little more difficult.
However care of these two forms is really virtually identical. This can be a long-lived species when kept properly though of course one of the risks of buying wild caught animals is you never really know how old they are when you buy them.
These are also one of the most docile tarantula species available and will feed eagerly on all the standard livefood sources such as locusts, brown crickets and black crickets.
Curly Haired Tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum)
Once again the Curly Haired tarantula may be known by a range of other similar names such as the Honduran Curly Haired spider or the Curl Haired tarantula but just as with the Chile Rose these names really all describe the same species.
Superficially these spiders resemble the brown color form of the Chile Rose however closer inspection will show why they received their common name in that the hairs are considerably longer and are curled like the spider has had a perm.
These two are docile tarantulas that can be safely handled and are easy to care for. They are sometimes available as captive bred specimens and are popular with beginners because they reach a reasonable (yet manageable) size and can be handled safely.
One final point I would like to make when it comes to buying your first tarantula is to make sure that when you buy it you get the Latin name of the species you have selected. Because common names vary so much; and indeed the same common name can describe a number of similar tarantulas; it is recommended that you only buy a tarantula when you can get the Latin name for it.
Knowing for certain which species you have so that you can find out more about it, ask questions on forums where necessary and possibly even try breeding them in the future is a very smart move indeed.