Moving aggressive and/or fast moving tarantulas from one cage to another can be a difficult exercise. Do it wrong and you could end up with a nasty bite mark or a missing tarantula in reward for all your effort.
If you’re therefore graduating up from “docile plodders” like Chilean Roses or Mexican Red Knees then, it’s critical to learn how to move rather more fiesty tarantulas without risk either to yourself or the tarantula in question.
What follows, therefore, is the system I use to move such spiders having tried out various systems over the years…
The last thing you want to do when dealing with a difficult tarantula is realizing that you need some equipment you left in another room. I therefore like to start by getting prepared for all eventualities well in advance of any move.
I gather both the existing cage and the new cage into which I will be placing the spider. I also gather a clear plastic tub with a close-fitting lid for the removal process. For all but the largest tarantulas an old cricket tub tends to work well. I also like to grab some long forceps incase I need to move cage decorations or coax a tarantula without getting bitten, and gardening gloves can be useful in some cases too.
Find a Containment Zone
If you’re just getting started keeping fast-moving tarantulas then you’ll be astonished just how quickly they can move when the need arises. Blink and they’re gone.
It therefore makes sense to try and create a “containment zone” so that it’s easy to capture your spider if it makes a run for freedom. Losing a fast-moving tarantula in a busy room can be a nightmare as you gently try to move furniture to keep to the little bleeder!
Personally, my containment zone of choice is the bathroom. I like to place both cages and all my equipment into the bath tub, which many spiders cannot climb up. Even then I add an extra level of protection by ensuring plugs are in, the toilet seat is closed and a towel has been rolled up to block the gap under the door. Now we’re ready for action…
Open the Cages
Once you’re confident that a fleeing tarantula can still be safely contained, the next step is to open the cages. I open the new cage first, making sure the lid is close at hand to close at a moment’s notice.
Then open up the existing tank. From now on you need to be “in the zone” when it comes to concentration – no getting side-tracked or the process may not go as you’d like.
Access the Tarantula
With the cages open, your next task is to gain access to the tarantula itself. Aggressive or fast-moving tarantulas tend not to react well to being poked and prodded, so using your gloves and/or forceps try to gently gain access to them. Move cork bark as necessary for example.
In some cases you’ll find a tarantula – such as Poecilotheria regalis – sits inside their roll of cork bark. You can then just swiftly transfer the whole log into the new cage while wearing your gloves.
In other circumstances, however, you’ll actually need to restrain the spider. This is a lot safer than just trying to nudge it into the new cage, at which point it may dash off at lightning speed in the wrong direction.
Place a Plastic Tub Over the Tarantula
Once I can see the tarantula I then gently yet firmly place the plastic cricket tub over the spider. You may need to be quick to capture the spider, which will often react swiftly.
Once the tub is over the top then the worst of the battle is over, and your fingers should be relatively safe.
Slide the Lid Underneath
Once you have your tarantula contained in the cricket tub, the next step is to gently slide the lid underneath, where your tarantula should clamber over the plastic. The lid can then be secured in place.
Place Into New Cage
With your tarantula carefully and safely now housed in the clear plastic tub with a lid, it is a relatively easy job to transfer the tub into the new cage, ready for the release process.
Loosen the Lid
With the tub in place is it time to remove the lid of the plastic cricket tub. I gently loosen it, then depending on how brave you are, and how aggressive the spider is, either open the lid with your fingers or gently move it aside with your forceps. The spider can then escape from the tub into their new cage.
While you can try to coax the spider out, this often doesn’t end well. Instead, my preference is simply to remove the lid of the cricket tub part way, and then leave it as is. The tarantula will come out in their own time, without dashing off into the distance.
Remove the Transport Tub
The final step, which I often leave to the next day, is simply to remove the now-empty cricket tub from the new cage. This is easily done with long forceps, while leaving the spider well alone in their new home. Mission accomplished!
What are your best tips for dealing with aggressive or fast-moving tarantulas? Have you ever run into any issues? Please leave your experiences in the comments section below so that we can benefit from each other’s knowledge…