While a tarantulas’ exoskeleton helps to reduce moisture loss, they still require some form of moisture to survive. There are a number of ways that this requirement can be accomplished in captivity.
Adult tarantulas should have access to a water dish. The best water dishes for tarantulas are shallow bowls. The water should be replaced regularly, and the bowl should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week.
The situation is slightly more challenging when it comes to smaller tarantulas, such as spiderlings and juveniles.
Do Tarantula Spiderlings Need a Water Dish?
Hatchling tarantulas are too small to utilize even the tiniest of water dishes. Instead, a different solution is required. There are two common and effective solutions that may be employed.
Firstly, a houseplant mister can be used occasionally to gently mist the inside of the spiderling container. Care should be taken to avoid spraying the tarantula spiderling itself.
The goal should be to leave fine droplets on the side of the container, so the spiderling can drink from these. As a result, it is a good idea to mist in the evening, so the droplets do not have a chance to evaporate before your spider comes out of its lair at night.
Note that damp, stagnant conditions should be avoided for all tarantulas. Not only should your spiderling pot have suitable ventilation holes added, but the pot should be allowed to try out completely between mistings.
In most cases this will therefore mean misting your spiderlings once every one to two weeks depending on the temperature of the cage and the amount of ventilation present.
A second option is to provide a piece of cork bark. Water can then gently be added to the various holes of the bark using a water dropper. The bark itself can then act like a mini water dish.
Do Juvenile Tarantulas Need a Water Dish?
Juvenile tarantulas can be given a water dish once they are large enough not to drown in it. Once tarantulas reach a legspan of around 1-2 inches it should be safe to give them a shallow water dish.
Until this point, one can continue the process of occasional misting. If the spider is a heavy webber or an arboreal species it can be handy to spray on the webbing too. This makes it easy for your spider to notice the water droplets and to drink from them.
What is a Suitable Water Dish for Adult Tarantulas?
A range of different pieces of equipment can be employed as water dishes for tarantulas. Larger adults may make use of shallow plastic or ceramic bowls sold for small reptiles or rodents. Jam jar lids and other shallow objects may also be used.
For smaller tarantulas I make use of plastic bottle lids of varying sizes. An old cola lid can be ideal for tiny juveniles, while the wider lids off milk bottles can be ideal for slightly larger specimens.
Alternatives to Water Dishes for Tarantulas
While it is generally considered best practice to offer water dishes to tarantulas, there are a minority of keepers who prefer alternative solutions. Some, for example, will routinely mist their tarantula enclosures, never providing an open water dish.
Others like to gut load their feeder insects to ensure they contain as much moisture as possible. Roaches, crickets and the like can be fed on juicy fruit for 24 hours before feeding. When eaten, your tarantula will also be able to consume the fruit juices within the gut of the feeder insects.
Generally, however, it is advisable to offer a water dish wherever possible. While you may not see your tarantula drinking from it very often, it is certainly not unusual to find a spider head-first in their water dish having a good drink.
Water Dishes for Burrowing Tarantulas
Burrowing tarantulas can create problems for the provision of water dishes. This is because they can dig down, tipping over their water dish, or even submerging it completely beneath the surface of the substrate.
While it is frustrating to find a water dish disappear from view one night this doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t provide a water dish to burrowing tarantulas.
Where possible, try to rescue any partly-hidden water dish, clean it and return it to normal use. Alternatively, be willing to add extra water bowls over time as others disappear beneath the surface.
Water Dishes for Heavy Webbing Tarantulas
Tarantulas that produce lots of web – such as Orange Baboons or Greenbottle Blues – can also be frustrating with their water dishes. Dishes can quickly disappear from view beneath copious amounts of silk.
Just as with burrowing tarantulas there are a number of solutions here.
Ideally, try to retrieve the hidden bowl using long forceps, wash it and set it up again properly.
Alternative options can include adding a second water bowl, or simply misting the webbing on a regular occurrence. If you opt to mist the cage rather than providing a water dish then be sure to let the cage dry out thoroughly between applications.