What Does Tarantula Poop Look Like?

You finally Googled it didn’t you? You were so intrigued you decided to search for “what does tarantula poop look like?”. Don’t worry – you’re not the only one 🙂

And I’m not going to disappoint you. After 25+ years of keeping tarantulas you’re about to learn everything you wanted to know about tarantula poop – and probably a few things you didn’t want to know either…

Tarantula Poop Appearance

Tarantula poop is typically a runny liquid. It is most commonly white in color, though can also be darker in color. It dries soon after the tarantula has pooped, producing a dry, chalky material.

As tarantula poop is liquid when produced, it is normally soaked up by the substrate on the floor of the tarantula cage. As a result, you very rarely see it.

Tarantula poop is however far more visible in arboreal tarantulas. This is because arboreal tarantulas poop on the glass while they’re clambering about. Without the substrate to soak the poop up it dries on the sides of the cage. Under these circumstances it mostly looks like white dots scattered around the sides of the cage. 

Tarantulas can poop with surprising force. The spray they emit can cause the poop to travel quite some distance. Seeing as ventilation is so important for the health of your tarantula it is possible that some of this poop may be sprayed through ventilation holes or mesh, attaching itself to other items near the cage.   

Why Does My Tarantula Poop In Its Water?

Tarantulas are indiscriminate poopers. They poop anywhere they fancy. Sadly, nobody has yet managed to litter-train a tarantula. 

This shameless behavior means they will also poop in their water. Don’t assume your pet tarantula is saving it all up specially to dump into their freshly-filled water bowl, though it can sometimes feel like that.

The reality is that poop sprayed elsewhere in the cage tends to quickly dry, and to be absorbed by the substrate. The nature of a water bowl, however, means that any poop sprayed there is far more visible. It isn’t soaked up by the substrate but instead either sits in liquid form in the formerly-clean water, or congeals on the outer surface of the bowl. 

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For this reason I strongly advise all readers to not just top up your tarantulas water bowl regularly, but to actually remove it, clean it thoroughly and then allow it to air dry. Having a few spares can make this process a lot quicker and easier, as you can just swap out bowls as you carry out your routine maintenance, then clean all the dirty bowls at the end. 

Does Tarantula Poop Smell?

Tarantulas are very clean animals, and produce virtually no smell of any kind. Tarantula poop is no different, and despite sitting right now in a room with over 200 tarantulas I can smell no unpleasant odors. 

It probably helps that the poop dries almost instantly in the warm surroundings of a tarantula cage. It also probably helps that the substrate does a good job of absorbing most poop, and I change the substrate from time-to-time to keep this to a minimum. 

If tarantulas do produce a smell of any kind it’s more likely to be a result of a dead feeder insect in there. Crickets, in particular, can smell pretty bad once they die. 

For this reason it’s wise to check your tarantula soon after feeding. I like to feed my spiders in the evening, then check their cages the following morning. Be sure to remove any uneaten feeder insects. 

At the same time, look for the food bolus that a tarantula produces when it kills and eats a feeder insect. This is normally a small, almost-circular object, brown and/or white in color. It’s basically what’s left over from the feeder insect when your tarantula has digested it and sucked all the juices out. So it’s basically the tough, indigestible exoskeleton, all rolled up into a ball.

These food boluses can attract mites if you’re unlucky. They can also pong a bit. So remove these too whenever you see them. 

Is Tarantula Poop Dangerous?

Tarantula poop is not dangerous. By the time you see it, it’ll likely be a dry, dusty substance anyway. 

For safety I always advise washing your hands thoroughly after doing any pet care – be that with tarantulas or any other animals. But if you happen to touch tarantula poop don’t worry too much. It’s water soluble, so a quick rinse under the tab and you’ll be ready to get back to your pizza. 

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How Do You Clean Tarantula Poop?

Tarantula poop is easy to clean off the cage. There are a couple of options for cleaning tarantula poop depending on whether you’re doing a full clean or just a spot-clean of a particularly messy cage area.

Firstly, a window scraper with a blade can be handy. You can run this over the surface of the glass and most of the poop will be instantly removed. 

Secondly, tarantula poop is water soluble. This means removing it is as simple as making it wet, then giving it a firm wipe. Once wet, tarantula poop can streak. So initially the tarantula cage can look worse than before you started, with white smudges all over the glass. But keep spraying and wiping and it’ll soon look as good as new.

For really stubborn poop marks I like to remove the tarantula, take the cage out into the garden on a warm day, and use a damp kitchen scourer to really scrape the poop off the glass.

What I don’t recommend is the use of any chemicals around your tarantulas. Just water and elbow-grease should do it. Nobody tests household chemicals on tarantulas so best not take the risk of accidentally poisoning your pet spider just to get their cage spotless. 

Richard Adams

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