Keeping tarantulas has always been a fun hobby for me and at the time of this writing, I have 55 tarantulas in my collection representing 44 species. They are fascinating animals and though they have the potential to bite, for the most part they are calm and make excellent pets. If you receive a tarantula as an adult, housing is relatively easy. You just place it into a size-appropriate enclosure and you should be all set with the exception of an occasional cleaning. When raising spiderlings though it is a different story since as they grow they need larger enclosures.
I start all spiderlings in deli cups with lids that have ventilation holes. For terrestrial (ground dwelling)species, I use a 16 oz. cup and for arboreals (live up off of the ground, usually in trees), I use a 32 oz. cup. These containers are small enough that it will make finding prey easy but at the same time large enough that the young tarantula can burrow if it wants or in the case of an arboreal species, be able to climb vertically. There is also enough room in these containers for a small water dish and regulating humidity is relatively easy.
Just recently I noticed that my Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tree Spider (Poecilotheria metallica) was quickly outgrowing its 32 oz. deli cup. Though it could’ve gone 2-3 more months in this enclosure, I felt it was as good a time as any to re-house it. This is where things get tricky and where you are probably at the highest risk of getting bit. When it comes to arboreal tarantulas they can be lightning fast and tend to be more aggressive.
First off I needed an enclosure. Because Poecilotheria metallica is arboreal, you want an enclosure that is vertical in nature, providing height for which the tarantula to climb. Terrestrial tarantulas need a horizontal enclosure, providing more room to walk around on the ground. My immediate choice was the arboreal enclosure offered by Jamie’s Tarantulas, out of California. Let me just say that I cannot recommend buying from Jamie enough. Not only does she offer one of the best enclosures available on the market, but she also offers a great variety of live tarantulas, oftentimes not available from other dealers.
The reason I like her enclosures is because of the design. They can be used for both terrestrial or arboreal tarantulas and the ventilation holes are on the side, and not on the top. Cross ventilation is very important, especially for arboreal species. They like a higher humidity and with the cross ventilation, more fresh air is available than if the ventilation holes were just in the top.
For a substrate I once again used EcoEarth by Zoo Med. This is made of coconut husk and holds moisture very nicely. I then added a fake plastic plant and a piece of cork bark placed vertically along the back corner. The plan is that this will provide areas for this spider to not only hide, but to make a home. After that, all that was needed was a water dish and instant enclosure.
Next was transferring the tarantula. I wasn’t sure how it would go but it ended up being so easy that it seemed too good to be true. In the deli cup I had a piece of cork bark that the tarantula liked to hang out on. I carefully removed this and the tarantula stayed on it, very calmly. Then I slowly moved the whole piece of cork bark into the new enclosure without incident. Then it was just a matter of closing the door, latching it and putting the label on.
For labels I like to include certain information. I start with the scientific name and then add common name, locality (where it can be found), the date I received it and then minimum heating and humidity requirements. I just recently started adding a picture of the adult tarantula as well.
The key now is humidity. I feed my tarantulas once a week and when I do this, I also mist the enclosure and sometimes overflow the water dish. This seems to do a great job with maintaining the proper humidity. The day after I set this up I offered the tarantula food and it ate readily, telling me that it was comfortable in its new home and that it had little to no stress from the experience.