What Do Tarantulas Need in Their Cage?

Tarantulas are quite simple to keep as pets and only need a small number of things within their cage.

At a bare minimum larger tarantulas should be provided with a suitable substrate, somewhere to create a hide, and water bowl so they can drink at will. They should also be provided with suitable ventilation holes to allow air exchange.

There are, however, variations on this theme, particularly for smaller tarantulas. Furthermore some keepers opt not to provide a hide and/or a water bowl depending on circumstances. In this article we’ll discuss all three of these necessities, and when you may opt to go without them. 

Substrate

All tarantulas require a suitable substrate on the base of their cage. There are a huge range of different materials that are used by tarantula keepers for this purpose. 

Some of the most popular examples include:

  • Coconut fibre
  • Top soil
  • Multipurpose compost

The substrate has a number of purposes for tarantulas. 

Josh's Frogs Coco Cradle (10 liters)
  • ECO-FRIENDLY ORGANIC and 100% BIODEGRADABLE unlike some reptile substrates that are contributing to deforestation and then go to the landfill
  • INCREASES HUMIDITY for animals that need moderate to high humidity
  • ABSORBENT composition allows it to soak up messes and odors, leaving a cleaner habitat for your pet

A suitable substrate can:

  • Help to moderate humidity within the cage
  • Provide the tarantula somewhere to dig or burrow
  • Absorb and retain mess to keep the tank smelling sweet
  • Increase the visual appeal of the tarantula cage

Substrate is particularly important for burrowing tarantulas. In these instances you should aim to provide enough depth of substrate so your spider can burrow beneath the surface, thus feeling safe. For larger burrowing tarantulas this can mean a substrate depth of six inches or more. 

Substrate is less important for arboreal tarantulas, but should be provided none-the-less. 

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Somewhere to Hide

To feel safe in their accommodation all tarantulas should have the opportunity to hide away and build a lair. Examples of popular hides include:

  • Pieces of cork bark
  • Pieces of coconut shell
  • Resin reptile hides
Zoo Med Natural Cork Bark, Round, Medium
  • Safe for all reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids (i.e. tarantulas).
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Many tarantulas will clamber underneath during daylight hours, only coming out at night to hunt. 

That said, there are a number of refinements here depending on the species of tarantula. For example, if your tarantula chooses to dig a burrow then a hide may not be necessary. The burrow it has dug offers the same benefits as a hide.

Furthermore, for anyone rearing tiny spiderlings, it may simply not be practical to offer a hide. Many tiny tarantulas are reared in equally small containers, and there simply isn’t room to add a piece of cork bark. 

Lastly, note that the hide should be arranged differently depending on the lifestyle of the spider itself. The hide should be placed horizontally for ground-dwelling tarantulas. For arboreal tarantulas, however, it is generally best to place the hide vertically. 

A Water Bowl

Like almost every other animal, tarantulas drink water. It is therefore considered best practice to include a water dish in your tarantula tank. This should be regularly topped up, and the dish should be sterilized regularly to prevent a build-up of bacteria. 

For adult tarantulas a range of water dishes may be used including those designed for pet rodents, or even a jam jar lid. 

Difficulties can arise with smaller tarantulas, however. Tiny tarantulas may be at risk of drowning in even small water dishes. Furthermore, it may simply be impractical to include a water dish in the tiny cage used to house a spiderling. 

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In these cases you may want to consider occasionally misting one side of the container – avoiding the spider itself – so that it can drink from the resulting water droplets. 

Additional Items

Beyond these three basics, some keepers choose to include a variety of other items, depending on circumstance and personal choice. Some examples of optional extra can include:

Thermometers – You may want to carefully monitor the temperature inside your tarantula cage. A simple thermometer can help with this, ensuring the cage is kept at a suitable temperature. This can be especially important during the cold winter months. A spider that is kept too cold may refuse to eat, may be more likely to get ill, and could ultimately die. 

Plants – Plants, whether live or artificial, can make a tarantula cage look very attractive. They can also offer opportunities to observe more natural behavior. Lastly, some tarantulas may use plants as an additional place to hide. While they’re not a requirement, many tarantula keepers opt to include them anyway.

Leaves – Leaves and other forms of “forest” decor placed on top of the substrate can also help to create a “jungle” feel to your tarantula cage. To prevent the introduction of parasites and disease it is most common to buy this decor from a reptile store, where it has often been treated to ensure it is safe for exotic pets. 

Richard Adams

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