Step into my parlor, Said the spider to the mouse?!

30 Aug

I had wanted to write an overview post about spiders in captivity for a while. Then I read the latest post on The Frog Bag and I could think of no better time than now.

Spiders have long played into the fears of the human species as a whole.  From fairy tales to the silver screen and even the small screen; although now that term itself seems an oxymoron as most own big screen televisions, there is not a place in society as we know it that doesn’t regard spiders with at least suspicion.Since recorded time spiders in general have been looked upon by the majority of earth’s populations as evil creatures to be feared and better yet smashed with the heel of a shoe rather than left to their own devices.  This has been perpetuated by Horror films; even action movies have their hero walking through the webs of spiders to imply danger and foreboding.  While most, if not all of the films are completely inaccurate, it still instills the thought that spiders themselves are inevitably bad creatures.

With the above being said, there are those that occupy a smaller niche in the reptile industry that keep and breed what are sometimes called ‘bugs’.  The term ‘bugs’ is often used by people in the reptile industry to describe one of two things; they are either referring to food for insectivorous reptiles or the pets kept by some people.  These include millipedes, centipedes, tarantulas, scorpions, and even mantis species as pets.

Within this article we will show you the aspects of keeping arachnids specifically tarantulas.  We will speak in very broad and general terms here.  For specific information on species commonly kept in the industry keep an eye tuned to the blog as we’ll be covering them soon.  Theraphosidae is the familial name for the spiders we will cover more commonly known as Tarantulas.  This name is a derivation of the word Taranto which came from the people of the town called Taranto.  Being envenomated by a Wolf Spider Lycosa tarentula the people would do a dance in order to sweat out the venom.  The dance itself was called the Tarantella.

Within the family of Theraphosidae there are reportedly in excess of 850 species occupying 113 genres.  It is unknown how many are now being kept regularly in captivity.  New species are being imported all the time.  For the sake of brevity they can be broken down into two classifications arboreal and terrestrial species.

Arboreal species are considered to be tree dwellers and spend most of their time either off or above the ground.  These particular species are some of the more delicate species when it comes to care as they are more likely to have a wider variety of care requirements when it comes to humidity, heat, and décor.  Terrestrial species seem to be easier to care for in my experience as they are more tolerant of ambient temperature fluctuations and some consider them for the most part to be a gentler species than the arboreal which are more skittish when the enclosure is disturbed as is needed for regular maintenance.

  • Temperatures for most tropical species can be between 75-85 degrees.
  • Desert species will obtain all the humidity they need from a shallow water bowl.
  • Tropical species should be sprayed regularly with distilled water.
  • Arboreal species need very little substrate.
  • Terrestrial species need floor space more than vertical space.
  • Arboreal species tend to be more high strung and defensive.
  • New World Arboreal species should have adequate air flow.
  • Some species can and have taken large mammals such as mice!

Look for more species centric posts on these wonderful creatures in the coming months!

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