Why You Should Consider a Tarantula as a Pet



Many people don’t consider tarantulas when looking for an animal companion. They gravitate towards a goldfish or a hamster when tarantulas make just as great of an easy, affordable pet. Here are some of the reasons you should get a tarantula based on my experience.



There are very little upfront costs

The cost of setting up a tarantula enclosure is very inexpensive. With reptiles, you need to get special lighting, supplements, and large glass enclosures. With fish, you need to get an expensive tank, a heater, a filter, etc. With a tarantula, you don’t need any of that. A typical tarantula set-up consists of an acrylic enclosure with a coco-fiber substrate and a cork bark hide. You can even DIY an enclosure as I have done in the past by drilling ventilation holes in a plastic storage bin. The tarantula will actually be the most expensive part of the set-up and even the tarantula can be every inexpensive depending on the species.


They are extremely low-maintenance

Tarantulas require very little attention from you and can be the perfect pet for somebody who is always busy. Taking care of all my tarantulas takes me about 20 minutes a week. All you need to do is check on your tarantula once a week, fill its water dish if it’s not full, and offer some food. They can also go several weeks or even a couple months without eating so forgetting to feed your pet one week is not a big deal.


They take up very little space

Tarantulas in the wild are ambush predators, staying in one spot until an unsuspecting prey item walks by. This means they do not require the large, extravagant enclosures that you might need for other animals. In fact, a large enclosure can actually be harmful to your tarantula as they can get stressed in an enclosure that is too big. An enclosure about the size of a shoebox can comfortably hold most tarantula species.


They are very hardy

Tarantulas are able to live in various conditions and are very forgiving to a new pet owner who is bound to make some mistakes. Many New World tarantula species are known to be great for beginners because of their hardiness and ease of care. 


It costs next to nothing to feed them week-to-week

Not only do tarantulas cost very little to set-up, but the recurring costs of caring for your tarantula are also next to nothing. Tarantulas have slow metabolisms and move very little, which means they consume minimal energy. They only need to be fed 2-3 crickets or an appropriately sized dubia roach a week. This costs a fraction of a dollar to feed them week-to-week and even less money if you breed your own feeder insects. Owning a tarantula also does not include any expensive vet bills as there are few health conditions that tarantulas can develop and there is little a vet can do to help a sick tarantula.


They are long-lived

Tarantulas can make for a long-lived pet compared to other common small animals like hamsters that may only live two years. Female tarantulas live for about 15-20 years but some have been reported living even longer. Now you can risk getting emotionally invested in your new pet because she’ll be with you for the long-run. Male tarantulas do not live as long as females (about 5 years) and can also make a great pet for someone who is not ready for a 15-year commitment to an animal.


There is a tarantula species for everyone

Whether you like colorful tarantulas or jet black tarantulas; exciting, fast-moving tarantulas or docile giants, there is a tarantula species for you. You can pick a tarantula that is your favorite color for there are tarantulas that are pink, purple, green, blue, black, and even blonde. With the number of tarantula species in the hobby, there is bound to be a tarantula species with the coloration or the personality that you will fall in love with.


They’ve helped many people get over their arachnophobia

Many people get tarantulas in order to get over their fear of spiders and for many, it has been resounding success. There is an excellent book by Lynne Kelly called Spiders – Learning to Love Them. Kelly describes in detail how she went from full-on arachnophobe to being a spider lover. Facing your fear and having constant exposure to them as a pet is a proven effective way to get over your irrational fear.




They are not a pet you can handle on a daily basis

Tarantulas are wild animals, not domesticated pets. This means they can act unpredictably and should not be handled often. New World tarantulas have mild venom and can be handled but do so at your own risk. Handling your tarantula puts it at risk of falling and rupturing its abdomen. They are heavy, soft-bodied animals that can be killed if handled carelessly. Think of them like a fish: a pet you observe instead of interact with. If you do decide to handle, make sure to only do so close to the ground.


Severe reactions to tarantula venom are possible

While rare, people can have severe allergies to tarantula venom that may put you in the hospital. You may not know until you are bitten. While bites are unlikely if proper care is taken, it is still a possibility to be aware of. Several Old World tarantulas also have medically-significant venom like the tarantulas belonging to the Poecitheria genus. Beginner keepers should start with a New World tarantula, which only has venom as serious as a wasp or bee sting.


They will never build a bond with their owners as other animals may

Tarantulas are arachnids and have very simple brains. They only know how to eat and to reproduce. As such, they will never “love” you as a pet dog may. If you’re looking for a pet that will recognize you and build a bond with you, a tarantula is not for you.


Despite these cons, a tarantula can make a fascinating and great pet for the right person.

But even with all these great reasons to get a tarantula as a pet, do so as you would any other pet and do proper research before buying one. I’ve heard too many stories of people buying a tarantula just because it is cool and having it end up neglected or dead. If your reason for getting a tarantula is so you can be “cool” among your friends, then do not buy a tarantula. Remember that they are still animals, not toys. 


If you do decide that a tarantula is for you, look for reputable sellers that have captive-bred animals. Many tarantula species, such as the Poeciltheria genus, are endangered in the wild and it is up to you to not buy wild-caught specimens. Tarantulas are easy to care for and take little space, so keeping tarantulas can make a fascinating and rewarding hobby.