What happens when a tarantula moults? 0 236

As unusual pets go, the tarantula is a fascinating species. One of the most common questions many new owners ask is: what happens when they moult? If you’re looking for answers to that question, here’s some tarantula pet care advice that will help you understand what is a crucial part of any tarantula’s life.

Why do tarantulas moult?

As invertebrates, tarantulas have no backbone and, in order to survive and grow, they have to shed their skin regularly. It is completely normal, albeit the process can be alarming for owners.

How often does it happen?

As it grows, a tarantula will moult or ‘shed’ five or six times within the first two years of its life. Thereafter, it’s likely to happen once a year at most.

What are the signs a tarantula is preparing to moult?

A key thing to look for is a change in your tarantula’s behaviour. Signs may include a decrease in eating, refusal to eat or a general sluggishness. Therefore, if you see this, consider it the pre-cursor to the big event! However, be patient, as it may still take a few days or longer for the shedding to happen.

When will I know the moulting phase has started?

Just before the tarantula is about to moult, it will lay on its back. In fact, it may even appear to be dead. Don’t worry – it isn’t! However, make sure that, when this does happen, you do not disturb your spider, as it’s a very crucial time. Moulting is an extremely strenuous experience for your tarantula and requires a lot of effort.

How long does moulting take?

It varies from spider to spider, but the skin will usually be shed within a few hours. Once shedding is complete, the tarantula will flip back on to its front, leaving the cast skin behind. Do not immediately remove it, as the tarantula will be in recovery. If possible, wait a day or two at least and even then, remove it with care.

My tarantula moulted but it’s not eating. Is this normal?

Yes, it is. Once a tarantula has shed its skin, it will not eat for a few days afterwards. Therefore, do not feed it. Just leave it comfortable in its home with fresh water and ensure the heat and humidity levels are stable.

Find out how to house a tarantula properly…

Photo: Tarantula by scragz licensed under Creative commons 2
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How to house a tarantula 0 303

If you are planning on getting yourself a pet tarantula, you’re going to need to learn how to take care of your new arachnid friend. Here’s some information to consider when housing your new spider:

Tank size and type

Make sure you research your specific species of tarantula so that you can get them exactly what they need to be comfortable. You won’t necessarily need a large house for your spider, depending on the species. A tank which is too large may actually be a bad idea, as it can make a spider’s prey difficult to find.

If you have a terrestrial or burrowing tarantula, you should purchase a tank which is around three times the spider’s leg span in length and twice the leg span in width. Aquariums often work well for housing spiders, ranging in size from around a two and a half to a five-gallon tank.

Typically, you don’t want a tank that’s too tall as it can be dangerous or even fatal for the spider if it falls. However, arboreal tarantulas will require a tall tank. This is so they have room to climb, and you’ll also need climbing apparatus like branches so the spider can spin its web.

Decor

Spiders aren’t social animals, so it’s sensible to house your tarantula alone to prevent them from getting agitated. All tanks will require a ventilated lid which has been carefully secured, as tarantulas are very good at escaping. At the bottom of the tank, you’ll need to provide a substrate of vermiculite which is between two and four inches deep. This gives the spider room to burrow. Burrowing types of tarantula will need a specific type of substrate, and all tarantulas will require places to hide in their cage.

Heating and light

Your tarantula will need heating pads in their tank. Most species of tarantula prefer the temperature between 75 and 85 degrees. Keep the cage away from windows and overly lit areas of the room, as tarantulas actually prefer darkness.

Find out more about caring for pet spiders

Photo: tarantula by lwolfartist licensed under Creative commons 2

Caring for stick insects 0 350

Found predominantly in the subtropics and tropics, stick insects can make awesome pets, especially for anyone who loves creepy crawlies. They are also great for people who don’t have as much time or space to care for larger animals.

Read on to find out more about taking care of stick insects:

Where to house your stick insect

Your stick insects will require an enclosure, net-cage or terrarium. The minimum requirements for the size of your cage should be three times the height of the insect and twice the width. If you decide to look after multiple stick insects, you’ll need to factor this in regarding the size of your cage. Stick insects require all of this space because they use it when they’re moulting.

Cover the floor of the enclosure with a substrate that absorbs moisture, like tissue paper, pebbles or potting earth. The tank will need to be cleaned regularly, as stick insects produce a lot of droppings. The enclosure’s roof needs to be made from mesh or netting to ensure that the stick insects can use it to hang from when they are moulting.

What to feed your stick insect

The leaves that your stick insect will eat depend on its species, so make sure you do some research into which species your stick insect is and supply it with the correct food. Stick insects will only eat leaves that are fresh, so to make sure that the leaves you give them are kept fresh, put the branches (with leaves on) in a container with a small amount of water. This helps to keep them tasty for your pets.

The temperature and humidity to keep your stick insect comfortable

Again, you will need to do some research into the particular species of your insect to find out what temperature they like to be kept at. To ensure proper humidity, you will need to spray water into the tank between once a day and once a week, depending on the type of tank and species you have.

Photo: stick insect by theyounz licensed under Creative commons 2