Tarantulas do not eat fruit. They are carnivorous predators that rely on catching and eating live prey.
Most typically this consists of insects, but in some instances may expand to include small lizards, amphibians or even rodents.
There have a few very isolated cases of tarantula enthusiasts reporting that they have observed tarantulas “eating” fruit. Assuming these claims are true – which seem somewhat dubious – it is more likely the tarantula was actually drinking the juice of the fruit due to dehydration.
Drinking From Fruit Vs Eating Fruit
Tarantulas don’t just need regular food; they also need to drink. A tarantula’s legs operate under pressure, and this pressure comes from water within the body. The pressure of water within the body is used to extend the legs. This is why a dehydrated tarantula will curl its legs under its body – it simply doesn’t have enough water to extend the legs as it once did.
On the odd occasion where tarantulas have purportedly been found to be eating fruit it is more likely to be a partially-dehydrated spider that is doing it’s best to drink the juice. The spider may pick up the fruit and squeeze it in its fangs, looking like it is eating. In actual fact it is trying to extract the moisture from the piece of fruit.
Why Are Tarantulas Found in Fruit?
Tarantulas are very occasionally found in shipments of fruit from warmer countries. However this is a very rare situation these days, as most tropical fruit that is imported into the West has gone through extensive treatment.
This treatment commonly involves treating fruit with pesticides to kill off any living creature. The aim here is of course to prevent alien species entering another country alive, where they may cause untold damage to the ecology of the receiving country.
Therefore in the minority of cases where tarantulas turn up in fruit shipments they are almost always found dead on arrival. There are a tiny minority of cases where animals manage to survive.
As to why fruit specifically, banana plantations seem to be particularly popular with some tarantulas, such as Pink Toe birdeaters (Avicularia spp.).
Pink Toe tarantulas are arboreal tarantulas that live up in the trees. Banana plantations can provide an ideal habitat for them. The deep leaf bases high up in the trees provide a suitable place to hide away from predators. Importantly, these also trap rain, meaning that tarantulas have a ready supply of drinking water right throughout the season.
What Do Tarantulas Normally Eat?
Tarantulas normally eat live prey. Indeed, while some tarantulas may learn to scavenge for dead prey, in many cases it is the motion of the live animal which elicits a feeding response from the tarantula.
Place a live locust or cockroach into a tarantula cage and you’ll be able to observe the entire process. The simple action of the feeder insect moving around the cage will slowly draw the hungry tarantula out of its burrow or hide. The more the insect moves, the quicker the tarantula will manage to locate and capture it.
Examples of foods taken by wild tarantulas include:
- Small lizards
- Small rodents
- Other tarantulas – on occasion
Pet tarantulas are typically fed a diet that consists almost entirely of live insects. Some of the most popular options among tarantula keepers are: