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  • Richard Adams
  • October 30, 2016 12:48:27 AM

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The UK reptile and amphibian blog, teaching you how to care for exotic pets.

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    How Often Do Tarantulas Molt?

    Molting is an important part of a tarantula’s life. When a tarantula molts it is able to regenerate lost or damaged body parts, including legs and hair. It is also the process through which a tarantula grows. But there are also risks – molting is a dangerous time for a tarantula, where it is almost ... Read more The post How Often Do Tarantulas Molt? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    Molting is an important part of a tarantula’s life.

    When a tarantula molts it is able to regenerate lost or damaged body parts, including legs and hair. It is also the process through which a tarantula grows.

    But there are also risks – molting is a dangerous time for a tarantula, where it is almost helpless against attacks from predators or parasites. 

    How often a tarantula molts therefore becomes a compromise between these two opposing forces. 

    In general, adult tarantulas molt once a year, while juvenile tarantulas molt every 3 months or so.

    However, there is a lot of variation in these times, and a number of factors that can affect them.

    How Often Do Adult Tarantulas Molt?

    Most adult tarantulas follow a yearly cycle, largely dictated by the climate in which they live. All tarantulas of a given species in a given locality mate at a similar time, lay eggs at a similar time and molt at a similar time.

    This makes perfect evolutionary sense. When tarantulas molt they don’t just shed their exoskeleton. They also molt internal parts of their body, including the lining of their reproductive organs. This means that every time a female molts, she essentially becomes a “virgin” again. 

    Couple this with the fact that adult male tarantulas tend to only be fertile for a short period of time (normally measured in months).

    As a result, it makes sense for male tarantulas to reach adulthood at roughly the same time as the adult females are molting. In this way the females will be as “fresh” as possible, and will have a good length of time left in order to lay eggs before their next molt. 

    However there are variations on this theme. It is known that some female tarantulas can go more than a year between molts, particularly in captivity. This may be because the conditions they are exposed to in captivity don’t perfectly match those they would experience in the wild, so they are not “triggered” to molt when they normally would.

    It seems that the slower growing (and longer lived) species are most likely to “skip” an annual molt. Tarantulas from the Brachypelma and Grammostola genera are perfect examples. It also seems that the older a female is, the more likely she is to go more than a year between molts. 

    Some real-life examples of molts from adult females in my own collection:

    SpeciesMolt #1Molt #2Period Between Molts (Months)
    Brachypelma boehmeiNovember 2018July 202019
    Brachypelma boehmeiNovember 2018February 202015
    Brachypelma boehmeiFebruary 2020September 20207
    Brachypelma boehmeiNovember 2018August 202021
    Chromatopelma cyaneopubescensSeptember 2019February 20205
    Chromatopelma cyaneopubescensFebruary 2020October 20208
    Grammostola pulchripesJune 2020April 202110
    Lasiodora parahybanaMay 2018May 202024
    Lasiodora parahybanaMay 2020July 202114
    Tlilticotl vagansJune 2019May 202011
    Tlilticotl vagansMay 2020June 202113
    Omothymus violaceopesNovember 2019September 202010
    Omothymus violaceopesSeptember 2020April 20217
    Poecilotheria regalisOctober 2019October 202012
    Poecilotheria regalisOctober 2020July 20219

    As we can see, while this averages out to every 12 months, there is significant variation among pet tarantulas. 

    How Often Do Slings and Juvenile Tarantula Molt?

    Slings and juvenile tarantulas are going through the process of rapid growth. A tarantula will grow far more in a year as a youngster, in comparison to a mature specimen. As a result, they tend to molt far more frequently. 

    In my experience, and again with a fair amount of variation, well-fed tarantula spiderlings or juveniles tend to molt every 3-4 months on average. 

    How Often Do Tarantulas Molt?

    Factors That Affect How Often Tarantulas Molt

    A huge range of different factors can affect how often a tarantula molts, which can make “hard and fast” rules very difficult indeed. As stated, the examples given earlier show just how much variation there really is, and the conditions in which a pet tarantula is kept can have a significant impact on how often it molts.

    However here are some of the biggest factors that affects the period of time between molts in tarantulas:

    Growth Rate

    Some tarantula species are pre-programmed to reach adult size faster than others.

    Tarantulas from the Poecilotheria or Psalmopoeus genera, for example, tend to be quite fast-growing.

    In contrast many Aphonopelma or Brachypelma tarantulas are very slow growing. As molting is required for a tarantula to grow, it follows that some species will molt more frequently than others. 

    Feeding Regime

    The more a tarantula eats, the more resources it has to pass through a molt. A juvenile tarantula fed twice a week will molt far sooner than one that is fed only once every week or two. 

    This has two effects. Firstly, it means that tarantula keepers who want their spiderlings to grow as quickly as possible should consider regular, frequent feeds.

    On the other hand, if you buy a pair of tarantulas and want the female to mature a little earlier than the male, then feeding her more often (or in higher volumes) than the male can help make this happen. 

    Ambient Temperature

    Temperature can have a huge impact on how often tarantulas molt, and indeed exactly when they do molt. 

    A classic example of this is what happens during a heatwave. Suddenly social media and forums are alive with stories from keepers of all their tarantulas molting at roughly the same time.

    It’s certainly something I’ve experienced in my own collection too.

    If you keep your tarantulas at cooler temperatures – such as normal room temperature rather than providing some artificial heating – then you may find your tarantula molts less frequently. 

    Hydration Levels

    A successful molt requires suitable hydration. If you’ve neglected to fill up your tarantulas’ water bowl then it may try to hold off molting until it’s able to have a proper drink. 

    Mating Cycle

    Many of the “unusual” molting cycles in the table above were related in some way to being gravid. It seems that female tarantulas may molt at an unexpected time when they have been mated, either holding off in the hope they can lay an eggsac, or molting early to start the season afresh. 

    Age

    As stated previously, older tarantulas tend to molt less frequently than younger tarantulas. The same applies even among mature adults, where younger females may molt more often.

    Do Tarantulas Stop Molting?

    Tarantulas continue to molt throughout their lives. 

    Adult male tarantulas tend to die young, either through exhaustion or being eaten by an amorous female. Therefore they very rarely reach the next molt. If an adult male tarantula does live to old age then they may or may not molt again. If they do molt, this rarely ends well, with such males often losing limbs in the molting process.

    Adult females, in contrast, continue to molt throughout their lifetime, though these molts may get less frequent with age. 

    What Happens If You Disturb a Molting Tarantula?

    If you suspect your tarantula is molting then it is best to leave the creature well alone. Molting is a stressful time for your tarantula, and they’re likely to have invested considerable energy into getting conditions just right. They may, for example, spin a thick web to protect them, and choose the hide best suited to them.

    The less disturbance there is during this period the better.

    This means remaining quiet, avoiding physically disturbing the tarantula, and ensuring any uneaten feeder insects have been removed from the cage. 

    The post How Often Do Tarantulas Molt? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    What Do Baby Tarantulas Eat? What To Feed Tarantula Slings?

    Tarantulas are carnivorous invertebrates that will eat almost any live animal they can subdue. While this can include small birds, reptiles or even mammals, in reality this means tarantulas almost exclusively eat other suitably-sized invertebrates. Baby tarantulas, being so tiny when they hatch, most commonly eat very small insects.   For baby pet tarantulas the most ... Read more The post What Do Baby Tarantulas Eat? What To Feed Tarantula Slings? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    Tarantulas are carnivorous invertebrates that will eat almost any live animal they can subdue. While this can include small birds, reptiles or even mammals, in reality this means tarantulas almost exclusively eat other suitably-sized invertebrates.

    Baby tarantulas, being so tiny when they hatch, most commonly eat very small insects.  

    For baby pet tarantulas the most common feeder insects are:

    • Fruit flies
    • Pinhead crickets
    • Cricket parts
    • Mealworm parts

    Let’s look more thoroughly at each of these options in turn so you can select the answer most suitable for you…

    Fruit Flies

    Fruit flies – sometimes sold under their Latin name of Drosophila – are tiny flies measuring just a few millimeters in length. 

    As their name suggests, the larvae of these flies feed on fruit, rather than the carcass-loving flies many of us loathe. As a result they’re quite hygienic to buy and work with. 

    They’re also quite easy to culture at home, meaning you can have a constant supply for your baby tarantulas. 

    Drosophila have been used in all sorts of experiments over the years, particularly with regards to the inheritance of genes from one generation to the next. They were one of the first animals to have their genome fully sequenced. 

    This is important because we know more about the genetics of fruit flies than the vast majority of the animal kingdom. While studying these genes scientists have discovered all manner of recessive genes not typically seen in wild populations.

    This has allowed feeder insect suppliers to culture flightless fruit flies. As the name suggests, these particular fruit flies are unable to fly away. As you might imagine, this makes them far, far easier to feed to a baby tarantula.

    Fruit flies that can fly can become quite a pain when they escape around your house – which they will. So ideally look for the flightless variety when possible. 

    What Do Baby Tarantulas Eat?

    Pinhead Crickets

    Crickets have long been one of the most popular types of feeder insect. Like fruit flies, they’re easy to breed in captivity, with the hatchling crickets being absolutely tiny. That makes them a perfect food for baby tarantulas. 

    These recently hatched crickets, like fruit flies, measure just 1-2mm in length. They can either be bought at this size from reputable insect breeders, or you can culture your own quite easily after buying a box of adult crickets. 

    There are two downsides to pinhead crickets. Firstly, of course, they grow into adults. Within a matter of weeks your hatchling crickets may be getting too large for newly-hatched baby tarantulas to eat.

    Secondly, pinhead crickets get very easily dehydrated. They require proper care or they can quickly die off. 

    Fortunately there are a few solutions available to this issue. 

    Firstly, you can just order regularly. I have enough baby tarantulas in my collection at any time that I just receive a regular weekly delivery from my chosen livefood breeder. Almost all of the crickets get used up before the next tub arrives.

    Secondly, you can try to provide proper care for the baby crickets. Principally this means taking them out of the tub they come in, so they can receive proper ventilation. Then provide not just dry food (bran etc.) but also food that will prevent them from getting dehydrated. Slices of carrot, or greens such as cabbage, can work well. 

    Thirdly, some tarantula keepers have found that their baby tarantulas will eat even dead pinhead crickets. Some keepers, therefore, place pinhead crickets into their freezer to preserve them, then just thaw out what they need each week before feeding night. 

    I must confess that I have not tried this last technique myself so cannot vouch for how successful it is. 

    Cricket Parts

    Some keepers report success giving baby tarantulas just a piece of a larger feeder insect. One popular example used are individual legs of larger crickets. 

    This is very much akin to freezing hatchling crickets to use later for feeding. To my knowledge, tarantula keepers aren’t chopping the legs off live crickets. Instead, a tub of crickets is purchased, then placed into the freezer.

    Once dead and frozen, a handful of these crickets is defrosted each week. Once defrosted, the cricket is “chopped up” using tiny scissors or nail clippers, and the tiny individual pieces are then popped into the baby tarantula vials. 

    Mealworm Parts

    Mealworms are another popular feeder insect among exotic pet hobbyists. Even a small piece of a mealworm might be an overly large meal for the tiniest of baby tarantulas. However for slightly larger specimens a section of mealworm can be a welcome meal. 

    Mealworms have a lot going for them as feeder insects. They can be easily bred in the home (and baby mealworms are tiny – ideal food for baby tarantulas). They can be kept in the fridge for long periods of time, which will slow down their metamorphosis into adult beetles. They’re also slow-moving and flightless, making mealworms easy to work with. 

    Like feeding cricket pieces, some tarantula keepers report success by cutting up a larger mealworm into smaller pieces and feeding these to their spiders. 

    Scaling Up Food Sizes As Your Baby Tarantula Grows

    It goes without saying that while the above feeder insects are the perfect for feeding baby tarantulas, as your pet tarantula grows, the food items should increase in number and/or size. 

    Try to aim for a feeder insect of roughly the length of your tarantula’s abdomen as a broad rule. So as your spider molts and grows, you can start to offer bigger crickets, baby cockroaches, small locusts and more. 

    Removing Uneaten Food After Feeding

    Feeder insects, whether alive or dead, should be removed from your baby tarantulas’ cage if not swiftly eaten. Personally I feed my spiders in the evening, then the following morning check each and every one. Any uneaten food is removed.

    Some keepers like to give their tarantulas even less time, taking out any uneaten food after just an hour or two. 

    The timing itself isn’t crucial. What matters most is removing the uneaten food. You don’t want a live insect causing issues for a tarantula that is coming up the molt, and you don’t want a dead insect attracting mites into your collection. So clean, and clean regularly, to keep everything hygienic for your pets. 

    The post What Do Baby Tarantulas Eat? What To Feed Tarantula Slings? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    Should I Remove My Tarantulas Molt?

    Tarantula molts should always be removed from the cage if possible.  If a tarantula molt is left in the cage for too long it not only looks unsightly, but more importantly it can attract mites. Mites in a tarantula cage are always bad news, so it’s quicker and simpler to just remove a molt when ... Read more The post Should I Remove My Tarantulas Molt? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    Tarantula molts should always be removed from the cage if possible. 

    If a tarantula molt is left in the cage for too long it not only looks unsightly, but more importantly it can attract mites. Mites in a tarantula cage are always bad news, so it’s quicker and simpler to just remove a molt when possible. 

    Indeed, the removal of a tarantula molt should be considered part-and-parcel of your routine tarantula maintenance routine. 

    When Should You Remove a Tarantula Molt?

    While most tarantula keepers agree that sloughed skins should be removed, quite when to remove the molt is rather more contentious.

    Molting is a very difficult time for your pet tarantula. It requires a huge amount of effort, and the freshly-molted tarantula is almost helpless until their new exoskeleton hardens. 

    For this reason, it is best not to disturb your tarantula soon after a molt. Let them do their thing for a while.

    In my opinion, the best time to remove a molt is once your tarantula is back to their old self and has started to feed once again. This typically means a week or two after a molt. 

    It is interesting to note that many of my tarantulas that molt in a cork bark hide or down a burrow will carry the old molt out by themselves and dump it in one corner of the cage.

    Whether that’s for hygiene purposes, or to maximize space in their hide is open to debate. Either way, it can make removing the old molt very simple indeed if you’re willing to be patient. 

    Should I Remove My Tarantulas Molt?

    How Do I Remove My Tarantulas Molt?

    Removing a tarantula molt is normally very easy indeed. I personally opt to use long forceps (mine are about 30cm in length) as I like to try and keep my fingers away from my tarantulas as much as possible. This reduces the chances of a nip, especially from a hungry tarantula that may not have eaten for some weeks.

    Just as importantly, the thin construction of the forceps allows me to reach into tight areas which my fingers might not successfully reach.

    While I mentioned above that many of my tarantulas carefully dispose of their skins after a molt, quite a few others do not. As a result it may be necessary to stick your forceps slowly and gently into a cork bark hide to extract the old exoskeleton. Forceps make this so much easier and minimize disturbance for your spider. 

    What To Do With a Removed Molt

    Possibly the best thing to do with a tarantula molt that you’ve removed is to sex it. The skin is soaked to soften it, and can then be looked at under a microscope or magnifying lens. If you’re new to sexing tarantulas from skins then it can take some time to get comfortable with the process; mistakes on gender can be easily made. 

    Only with practice, however, will you get better at the process. So the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll manage to hone your skills. 

    There are of course other things that can be done with a tarantula molt you’ve removed from the cage. It is possible to “set” the molt so it makes an attractive feature in your home. You might choose to keep the molt in a labeled bag so you can see how much your tarantula grows over time. 

    Or worse case simply throw the molt away in your household rubbish.

    Personally I quite like to add them to my compost heap, where they will slowly decompose, putting nutrients back into my garden. 

    How Do You Soften a Tarantula Molt?

    If you want to sex or mount a tarantula molt the process is very simple indeed. Essentially it needs soaking in water for a short period of time. Don’t worry about the temperature of the water; I’ve found that cold water works just as well as warm water.

    The one difficulty with softening a tarantula molt in water is that they often float on the surface of the water, and therefore fail to properly soak up enough water. This is easily solved by adding a few drops of dish soap to the water.

    Personally I maintain a row of old glass jars complete with water and dish soap. Each one is lidded. As I do my routine tarantula checks, molted skins are slowly added to the jars. The lids are screwed on, and the jars are given a gentle shake. The skins then soak up the water and are ready for sexing or mounting a short while later. 

    The post Should I Remove My Tarantulas Molt? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    What Are New World Tarantulas?

    New World tarantulas are those that come from the Americas. Namely North American, Central America and South America, together with the Caribbean Islands. This is in contrast to Old World tarantulas which come from the rest of the world, particularly Africa and Asia.  While there are always exceptions to any rule, New World tarantulas are ... Read more The post What Are New World Tarantulas? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    New World tarantulas are those that come from the Americas. Namely North American, Central America and South America, together with the Caribbean Islands.

    This is in contrast to Old World tarantulas which come from the rest of the world, particularly Africa and Asia. 

    While there are always exceptions to any rule, New World tarantulas are generally thought to share the following characteristics:

    • Lower venom potency – If bitten, it is generally agreed that New World tarantulas are less likely to cause serious complications. 
    • More amenable attitude – While there are definite exceptions, many “classic” tarantulas including most that are recommended for beginners are New World tarantulas. They are generally recommended because they are less defensive and more easy-going. 
    • Possession of urticating hairs – The flipside is that urticating hairs are only found in New World tarantulas, so care should be taken when handling or during maintenance to avoid coming into contact with them. 

    Examples of New World Tarantula Genera

    Some examples of tarantula genera that hail from the Americas, so are considered “New World tarantulas” include:

    • Acanthoscurria – huge, burrowing tarantulas. 
    • Avicularia – the pink toe bird eaters.
    • Brachypelma – “classic” brightly colored tarantulas.
    • Caribena – including the “top ten” species the Antilles Pink Toe.
    • Grammostola – many slow moving, slow growing species ideal for beginners.
    • Lasiodora – some of the largest tarantulas from South America.
    • Megaphobema – brightly colored and stunning, but skittish.
    • Nhandu – easily bred, and so very cheap to buy. 
    • Phormictopus – Big and feisty with an amazing feeding response.
    • Psalmopoeus – Tree dwellers including favorites like the Suntiger and Trinidad Chevron.
    • Tlitcotl – Home of the Mexican red rump and curly hair tarantulas. 
    What Are New World Tarantulas?

    Popular Pet New World Tarantulas

    Now let’s break things down even more. To help you identify a little more easily which species are considered New World tarantulas let me give some specific examples that are commonly seen in the pet trade.

    The post What Are New World Tarantulas? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    Can Tarantulas Eat Mealworms?

    Mealworms are an incredibly popular feeder insect for many pets, so understandably many people wonder if tarantulas can eat mealworms.  Tarantulas can eat mealworms without problem.  Mealworms are also easy to work with for most tarantula enthusiasts; for example they don’t jump about like crickets or try to fly away like fruit flies.  However before ... Read more The post Can Tarantulas Eat Mealworms? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    Mealworms are an incredibly popular feeder insect for many pets, so understandably many people wonder if tarantulas can eat mealworms. 

    Tarantulas can eat mealworms without problem. 

    Mealworms are also easy to work with for most tarantula enthusiasts; for example they don’t jump about like crickets or try to fly away like fruit flies. 

    However before we give mealworms a “seal of approval” for tarantulas there are a few elements we need to consider in more depth…

    Can Mealworms Hurt Tarantulas?

    Most uneaten feeder insects can cause distress to your tarantula if left in their cage too long.

    This applies to mealworms just as it does other livefood.

    The reality is that while mealworms are herbivores, they still have tough mandibles (mouthparts) and are capable of giving your tarantula a nasty nip.

    A mealworm that is instantly grabbed and eaten by your tarantula is very unlikely to do any harm. However a mealworm left to roam your tarantula cage may cause annoyance at worst, or serious damage if it nips your tarantula while it is attempting to molt. 

    For this reason, while mealworms can certainly be fed to tarantulas, any uneaten mealworms should be swiftly removed from the cage.

    Can Tarantulas Eat Mealworms?

    Will Tarantulas Eat Dead Mealworms?

    Some tarantulas have been reported to eat dead mealworms, especially if they are recently killed.

    Indeed, some tarantula keepers rearing smaller tarantulas (slings and juveniles) chop up mealworms into smaller pieces, giving the smaller chunks to their tinier tarantulas. 

    Not all tarantulas will accept a dead mealworm, but some will. Therefore it is always worth trying if this is something of interest to you. Just don’t be too disappointed if your tarantula turns out to be one of the specimens that turns its nose up at anything other than live prey.

    Do Spiders Eat Dried Mealworms?

    Tarantulas generally won’t eat dried mealworms.

    While dried mealworms are obviously handy from the perspective of the tarantula keeper – thanks to their long “shelf life” – it seems that most tarantulas won’t try eating them.

    Fortunately there are alternatives, like buying live mealworms and either slowing down their growth rates by keeping them in a refrigerator or freezing some of the mealworms for later use. 

    Can Tarantulas Eat Darkling Beetles?

    Mealworms aren’t “worms” at all. They’re the larvae of small black beetles, sometimes known either as flour beetles or darkling beetles. 

    If you’ve bought a tub of mealworms but are finding that the worms are metamorphosing into adult beetles it’s an obvious question as to whether they can be fed to tarantulas.

    Generally speaking tarantulas don’t eat darkling beetles. The tough exoskeleton and unpleasant taste renders them unappealing to tarantulas as food.

    Probably a better option than trying to feed darkling beetles to your tarantula is using these adult beetles to start your own mealworm colony. Mealworms are incredibly easy to breed in the home, and you’ll quickly be producing a never-ending supply of the worms to feed to your tarantula collection.

    How to Extend the Life of Mealworms

    The one frustrating thing about mealworms as a feeder insect is how quickly they pupate. If you only have a handful of tarantulas then you may well find that most of the mealworms turn into adult beetles long before they’re introduced to your spiders.

    However there are a few options available to you. 

    First, and possibly easiest, is to put the mealworms somewhere cool. This slows down their growth rate, extending the time it takes for them to turn into adult beetles. A household refrigerator tends to work well. 

    When it comes to feeding time for your tarantula simply remove a few of the mealworms, allow them time to warm up (and so become more active) and then offer them to your arachnids. 

    A second option used by some keepers is actually to freeze uneaten mealworms. These are then thawed out and fed to their spiders dead. While I have not personally tried this I know some keepers swear by this simple strategy to make a single tub of mealworms last for months.

    Reasons Not to Feed Mealworms to a Tarantula

    So even though we’ve discovered that tarantulas can eat mealworms, it’s a rather different question as to whether you should feed them. In the interest of balance, therefore, let’s discuss some of the downsides of feeding mealworms to tarantulas…

    Mealworms Burrow Quickly 

    Possibly the most annoying thing about feeding mealworms to tarantulas is just how quickly mealworms will burrow down into the substrate of your tarantula cage. Once they’re buried they’re incredibly difficult to find again. 

    This has two knock-on effects of course. Firstly, if your tarantula doesn’t grab the mealworm very quickly then it may never even notice the meal you’ve offered. 

    This is particularly problematic for shyer tarantulas which may not come tearing out to catch their dinner every time you toss a feeder insect in. 

    Secondly, of course, a hidden mealworm can potentially represent danger the next time your tarantula molts. If the mealworm comes to the surface when your tarantula is molting and gives it a nasty nip then this can create a serious situation. 

    This means that mealworms are really only a suitable food for tarantulas with a very strong feeding response, and any mealworms that aren’t instantly snapped up should be removed before they have a chance to burrow out of view. 

    Mealworms Don’t Climb

    Just as mealworms tend to burrow into the substrate, so they also don’t climb. That might not sound like much an issue, but it can make them unsuitable for arboreal tarantulas.

    Most arboreal tarantulas hide away in burrows during the day; most typically a vertical piece of cork bark in captivity. Other insects that climb – such as locusts or cockroaches – will often climb up the bark, where the tarantula inside can sense them. They’re often picked off quickly.

    However as mealworms don’t climb – and indeed will bury themselves within minutes of being put into your tarantula cage – your arboreal tarantula may not even be aware of their existence. In this way your tarantula may go hungry even when food has been offered. 

    Mealworms Have High Chitin Levels

    Mealworms are not considered to be the highest quality feeder insect around. They have thick shells and lack many of the nutrients seen in cockroaches or crickets. 

    As a result, while tarantulas will definitely eat mealworms, and so they can be a regular part of the diet, they shouldn’t be the only insect you feed. Variety is key. By all means give your spider a few mealworms one week, but the next week try to offer cockroaches, crickets or locusts to ensure a wide range of nutrients are being consumed. 

    How to Feed Your Tarantula Mealworms

    If you’ve decided to try feeding mealworms to your tarantula then there are a few practical tips worth mentioning before we round off this article.

    Gut Load the Mealworm

    In order to provide as much nutrition as possible to your tarantula it can be wise to gut load mealworms. This essentially means feeding the mealworms a rich and varied diet for a day or two before they’re given to your spider. 

    While there are special gut loading formulas offered for reptile keepers, it can be just as effective to offer a range of fruits and vegetables to your mealworms. They’ll eat almost anything you’ll eat from raw carrot to apple. 

    Use Forceps to Pick up Mealworms

    Mealworms have a tough, waxy exoskeleton that many people find quite unpleasant to the touch. In addition, when you grab hold of a mealworm they tend to writhe around in an attempt to escape. This, too, is quite an unpleasant experience for some people if using your fingers.

    To avoid this experience it can be wise to use forceps to pick up the mealworms. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using your fingers, if you so desire.

    Drop the Mealworm In Front of the Tarantula

    As mealworms quickly bury themselves in a tarantula cage it is worth dropping the mealworm right in front of your tarantula. In this way your tarantula has the best possible chance to spot the prey item and grab it before it disappears from view.

    At the same time, it is worth giving your tarantula just one mealworm at a time, rather than scattering a handful far and wide around their cage. 

    Drop a mealworm and wait for it to be grabbed by the spider. Then if you want to feed a second mealworm, drop this nearby once the first has been captured. This minimizes the chances of unobserved mealworms burying themselves in the substrate. 

    Quickly Remove Any Uneaten Mealworms

    To reiterate a point made repeatedly throughout this guide, any mealworms that begin to burrow and remain uneaten should be swiftly removed from the tarantula cage. The only mealworms left in the cage should be those that your tarantula is actively eating. 

    The post Can Tarantulas Eat Mealworms? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


    Do Tarantulas Eat Their Molt?

    Tarantulas don’t usually eat their molt.  Normally, once a tarantula has molted, you will find the molted skin still within their cage. For tarantulas that choose to molt out in the open, this skin will be almost instantly visible.  However in tarantulas that molt down a burrow, or in a piece of cork bark, it ... Read more The post Do Tarantulas Eat Their Molt? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...

    Tarantulas don’t usually eat their molt. 

    Normally, once a tarantula has molted, you will find the molted skin still within their cage. For tarantulas that choose to molt out in the open, this skin will be almost instantly visible. 

    However in tarantulas that molt down a burrow, or in a piece of cork bark, it may be some time before you actually see the skin.

    In my experience many (though not all) tarantulas that molt out of view will “dispose” of their skin later on. They’ll actually carry it out of their hide and dump it somewhere else in the cage to keep their home hygienic. This seems to take around 2 weeks between a tarantula molting in a burrow, and them removing the unwanted skin. 

    One frustration when it comes to tarantula molting is that while they don’t typically eat their skin, they may still chew it up in their chelicerae. This can take a perfect, specimen-quality molt and chew it up to something almost unrecognizable. 

    There are two annoyances with this.

    Molts Not Worth Keeping

    Many tarantula keepers like to retain sloughed skins as a souvenir. Of course, a molt that has got “chewed up” and is now shredded and battered isn’t ideally suited to this pursuit. 

    Unsexable Molts

    Unless your tarantula is a mature adult, the single most reliable way to tell whether your tarantula is a boy or a girl is to examine a molted skin under a microscope or hand lens.

    For the inexperienced keeper, there is just one particular area you need to examine. This also, annoyingly, tends to be the most fragile part of the molt, and therefore the part most likely to be damaged. 

    I have some quite large tarantulas that are still unsexed as they always seem to chew up the skin at just the wrong place. Hopefully in the end my patience will pay off.

    The temptation with a tarantula that has just molted is to avoid either of these issues by instantly removing the skin. A tarantula that hasn’t hardened up yet after a molt is far less likely to have chewed up their skin, such as when removing it from their burrow.

    The downside to this, is it involves disturbing the tarantula when it is feeling most fragile. Clearly this is something we should be avoiding.

    Therefore I would implore you to leave a recently-molted tarantula to do it’s thing for a few weeks before you go looking for the skin. Let them harden up. Let them have a drink, and maybe something to eat. Then once they’re back to “normal” you can retrieve the old skin.

    Do Tarantulas Eat Their Molt?

    How to Remove a Molted Tarantula Skin

    Removing a molted tarantula skin is normally very easy indeed. This is especially so if you’re patient, and wait for the tarantula itself to “dump” the skin in the corner of the cage.

    I typically just use long forceps to pick the skin up to keep fingers away from my spiders. 

    Trying to pick up the skin by one or two legs makes most sense if you want to try and sex the skin. This is because you avoid doing any potential damage to the sensitive area that needs to be inspected. 

    What To Do With A Molted Tarantula Skin

    When tarantulas molt there are three common things you can can with them:

    • Throw them away
    • Keep them
    • Sex them

    Throw Them Away 

    This is the easiest and quickest option. Just dump it in the bin or, like me, put it in your compost heap.

    Keep Them 

    When tarantulas molt, their sloughed skin is soft and pliable. Over time, however, the skin dries out and becomes brittle.

    If you’d like to keep your tarantula molts it can be wise to dampen them again, so they once more become “workable”.

    I just soak them in a small jar of water, with a few drops of dish soap. Leave the skin for around half an hour.

    The skin can then be taken out of the water, and carefully manipulated so that it looks something more “tarantula-like”.

    Left to dry for a few hours, it should then permanently remain in the pose you have chosen. 

    Sex Them

    This topic would require a whole article of its own, but it is possible to tell the gender of a tarantula from their molted skin.

    Like in the previous point, the skin should be soaked to make it pliable, and the skin can then be inspected carefully with a microscope (for small skins) or a hand lense (for larger ones) to see if it’s male or female.

    For larger tarantulas it may be possible to visually sex them without the need for any expensive equipment; the female’s spermatheca for example can be easily seen by eye in bigger tarantulas. 

    The post Do Tarantulas Eat Their Molt? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.


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