Tarantulas do drink water. Without suitable moisture tarantulas can become dehydrated and may in extreme circumstances even die of thirst.
In nature tarantulas may drink water from puddles or from the bases of plants. Alternatively many smaller tarantulas can drink from raindrops that have settled on plants and other surfaces.
In captivity it is important to provide tarantula with water to drink, though the method can vary depending on the size and type of tarantula in question.
What Happens If a Tarantula Doesn’t Have Access to Water?
Tarantulas benefit from a tough exoskeleton which acts as a suit of armour. As well as protecting the tarantula from damage, this outer skin can also help to reduce water loss. All the same, all tarantulas will need moisture sooner or later.
A dehydrated tarantula may show a number of symptoms once the situation becomes serious.
Tarantulas use internal hydraulic pressure to extend their legs. That means that a dehydrated tarantula may not be able to properly extend it’s legs due to a lack of water in its body.
This may result in a tarantula that struggles to walk around it’s cage. Even more commonly, it results in a tarantula’s legs curling up under its body. A tarantula with legs curled underneath is in serious distress.
Fortunately, caught early, a tarantula with its legs curled underneath may still be saved with the provision of drinking water within easy reach.
A second symptom of a tarantula that does not have enough access to water to drink is that they may struggle when molting their skin. This can lead to tarantulas losing legs or other body parts while changing their skin.
In extreme situations the tarantula may become trapped in it’s old skin. In such circumstances the tarantula can die from such an experience.
As we can see, ensuring your tarantula is properly hydrated at all times is therefore an important part of tarantula care.
How to Identify a Dehydrated Tarantula
There are two easy ways to identify a dehydrated tarantula. Firstly, you may find your tarantula with it’s legs curled up underneath the body. You should be sure to provide water as soon as you see any such signs – don’t wait for the situation to become more serious.
A second symptom of dehydration in tarantulas is a shrivelled abdomen. This is particularly noticeable in tarantulas that have kicked off urticating hairs.
The skin on the bald spot should be smooth and healthy-looking. When a tarantula becomes dehydrated you may notice this bald patch becomes wrinkly and shrivelled. A decent drink, however, and the skin will return to normal.
How to Give Water to a Spiderling Tarantula
Spiderlings are most prone to becoming dehydrated. Indeed, dehydration is probably one of the most common reasons why tarantula spiderlings die in captivity.
There are a number of ways to provide drinking water to a tarantula spiderling.
Misting – A houseplant mister can be used with lukewarm water to gently mist the spiderling container. Aim to avoid the spider itself, and to ensure some water droplets land on the side of the container. The spiderling will then be able to drink from these droplets.
Trickling – Another option is to gently trickle some water down one inner wall of the tub, so that one part of the substrate becomes noticeably moist. The other side should remain dry. Your spiderling may be able to absorb moisture from the substrate in this way, and it risks upsetting your spiderling as can happen during misting.
Dropping – Another option is to provide a small piece of cork bark in each spiderling pot. A small water pipette can then be used to add droplets of water to the textured surface of the bark, where some will sit for periods of time.
Of course, wet and soggy conditions should be avoided at all times. Therefore, whichever of the above methods you use to give drinking water to your tarantula spiderling you should wait for the container to dry out properly before re-application.
How to Give Water to a Juvenile Tarantula
Juvenile tarantulas are less prone to dehydration than spiderlings. They should still have water to drink.
Depending on the size of your juvenile tarantula all the above methods can still work. However as your tarantula grows it may become possible to add a tiny water dish.
Soda bottle lids can work well as water dishes for small tarantulas. Thoroughly wash the lid in hot water (but avoiding any household chemicals) and allow it to air dry. The bottle cap can then be placed gently into the cage and refilled as necessary.
How to Give Water to an Adult Tarantula
The easiest way to provide drinking water to an adult tarantula is with an open water dish. The best water dishes are shallow (to prevent the risk of drowning) and of a width that your spider can get it’s whole cephalothorax into it.
Water dishes sold for small rodents or reptiles can work well. Just as good can be suitably-sized deli cups, which are also really cheap to buy.
Avoid anybody who recommends water gel or sponges in the water bowl. These can be difficult for tarantulas to drink from and can harbour harmful bacteria.
Just a dish of open water works fine.
Monitor the water level and clean/top up the water as necessary.
How Often Do Tarantulas Drink Water?
Many tarantula owners rarely or never see their tarantula drink water. However this does not mean that drinking water is unimportant. Remember that tarantulas are nocturnal and often shy creatures, so it is possible your tarantula is drinking water during the night when you are fast asleep.
It is difficult to answer the question as to how often tarantulas drink water because there are so many variables that can affect the answer. Tarantulas kept in humid conditions dry out much more slowly than those in very dry environments. They may therefore drink less water.
Tarantulas can also absorb some moisture from their diet. Therefore how often you feed your tarantula, what feeder insects you use, and what those feeders themselves have been eating, can all affect the situation.
As a good rule of thumb I recommend checking and refilling all water dishes once a week.
For spiderlings and small juveniles, allow the cage to thoroughly dry out between misting. To give an example of my own tarantula room this normally means gently misting my spiderlings every couple of weeks.
Do Tarantulas Need a Water Dish?
While tarantulas can survive without a water dish, depending on other circumstances, you will always be taking a chance with the health of your tarantula. As a result it is recommended that all larger tarantulas should definitely have access to an open water dish.
For ground-dwelling tarantulas the dish can be placed on the floor of the cage. When discussing arboreal tarantulas, however, some keepers like to attach the water dish higher up in the cage. This can be done by using a hot glue gun to fix the dish to a piece of cork bark, thus raising it up off the ground.
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