With over 800 species of tarantulas in the world, it is no wonder people want to keep tarantulas as pets. These noiseless creatures are interesting, take up just a little bit of space, and require very little attention. However, pet tarantulas should only be considered for the household if the owner appreciates them for what they are, instead of buying them for the novelty.
Tarantulas are not considered “beginner pets” by any means. People who have experience caring for other pets first can consider keeping a pet tarantula, and even then, there is a recommended order in which to start keeping tarantulas. This definitely means a young child should not be caring for a tarantula, for the safety of both the child and the tarantula!
Tarantulas are pets that are better to observe than have meaningful interaction. If you are looking to snuggle with your pet, a tarantula should not be on your list! Most beginner tarantulas are body-heavy and can be harmed, or killed, if dropped. Some tarantulas have urticating hairs, which are barbed hairs on the abdomen that can be scraped off towards a predator with the tarantula’s back legs. When these barbed hairs land on skin, in eyes, or in noses, they can work their way into the skin or nose to cause severe itching or penetrate the eye to cause inflammation. Many tarantulas bite, and the bites are venomous. However, the venom for most tarantulas you will find as pets is low in toxicity. Most people react in a manner similar to a bee sting or wasp when bitten by a tarantula, but there is always the chance that a reaction to venom could be much more severe, similar to an allergic or anaphylactic reaction to bee stings. In addition, male tarantulas have an average life span of 5 years, but female tarantulas can live on average of 25 years!
If you are not scared by potential venom bites, itchy hairs being flung in your direction, or an extended time commitment when it comes to care, you might be ready for a pet tarantula. Usually, the best “beginner tarantulas” (again, different than a “beginner pet”) are ground dwelling or burrowing tarantulas. The ground dwellers or burrowers are slower to move, which allows you to care for them without as much worry of being bitten. After taking care of ground dwellers or burrowers, you can consider taking care of arboreal species, but those are much more challenging.
The most popular types of tarantulas kept as pets are:
- Brazilian Black Tarantula
- Brazilian Black & White Tarantula
- Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula – better for beginners
- Cobalt Blue Tarantula
- Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula – better for beginners
- Curly Hair Tarantula – better for beginners
- Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula
- Green Bottle Blue Tarantula
- Honduran Curly Hair Tarantula
- King Baboon Tarantula
- Mexican Red Knee Tarantula – better for beginners
- Mexican Red Leg Tarantula – better for beginners
- Desert/Mexican Blonde – better for beginners
- Pinktoe Tarantula – better for beginners
- Stripe Knee Tarantula – better for beginners