Tarantulas are insectivorous carnivores. As such there are several food options for pet tarantulas that you can choose from.
Basically, you can feed your tarantula on gut loaded crickets supplemented with other insects.
In the wild tarantulas feed on a wide variety of insects. Bigger species of tarantulas also feed on other small animals such as mice. While other tarantulas in the wild feed on other spiders.
We have written this article to guide you on the various food options you have for pet tarantulas. Additionally, we have included a guide on tarantula feeding.
In the comments section, feel free to tell us what you are feeding your tarantula and how often.
What do pet tarantulas eat?
Pet tarantulas eat a wide variety of insects as they are insectivorous carnivores. However, most tarantula keepers feed their tarantulas on a diet of crickets.
We recommend feeding pet tarantulas on gut loaded crickets supplemented with other insects.
Additionally, you can feed a bigger tarantulas on pinky mice or small lizards.
There are a number of factors that determine the size of prey that you should feed your tarantula including;
- Body size
- Molting state
Generally speaking, you should feed your tarantula on prey that is smaller than their body size.
Complete list of food options (preys) for pet Tarantulas
Pet tarantulas can be fed on the following preys
- Crickets – you can never go wrong with crickets as all Tarantulas love and eat crickets.
- Meal worms
- Super worms
- Roaches – such as Dubai roaches or cockroaches
- House flies
- Grasshoppers – feed to Tarantulas who are larger in size than the grasshopper
Bigger Tarantulas can be fed on other small animals such as;
- Pinky mice
- Baby rodents
- Small lizards
- Small birds or hatch-lings
- Small snakes
Make sure that the prey is smaller than the Tarantula.
Although there are several food options for pet tarantulas, most owners prefer to feed their tarantulas on a diet of gut loaded crickets supplemented occasionally with other insects.
What do Tarantulas eat in the wild?
Tarantulas are nocturnal (active at night) carnivores.
In the wild, Tarantulas eat a wide variety of insects. Some larger species however may hunt mice, frogs, small lizards, small snakes, small birds or other spiders.
How do Tarantulas catch their prey?
Most spiders use webs to trap their prey.
Tarantulas are different. They prefer to actively ambush and pursue their prey. Tarantulas however may spin a trip wire to signal them when potential prey approaches their burrows.
Tarantulas use their strong jaws to grab and kill their prey. They then use their fangs to inject the prey with venom.
How do Tarantulas digest their food?
The Tarantulas venom contains chemicals that digest the preys flesh. Tarantulas also coat the body of bigger preys with digestive enzymes.
Tarantulas have short straw like mouths which make them unable to eat solid food. Once the prey is liquefied the Tarantula then sucks up the liquid using their straw like mouths.
Tarantulas have a large sucking stomach. When the muscles of this stomach contract, they create a sucking action that allows Tarantulas to suck the liquid from their dissolved prey.
These liquid is then broken into small particles in the intestines. The particles are then absorbed through the walls of the intestines into the Tarantulas bloodstream. They are then distributed throughout the Tarantulas body.
The tarantula then converts the left over prey into a small ball and throws it away.
FAQs on Tarantula feeding
How should I feed my Tarantula?
To feed your Tarantula, drop the cricket or prey near your Tarantula. You might want to buy a good pair of long nosed forceps such as DEECOOYA long handle tweezers to assist you during feeding.
DO NOT feed your Tarantula using your hands.
Tarantulas are snappy eaters. Feeding them using your hands can lead to Tarantula bites.
That would be nasty!!! read our separate article to see if you can you die from a tarantula bite.
If you do not have a pair of forceps, alternatively you can drop the prey into the terrarium.
Most Tarantulas prefer live prey. They rely on prey movement to spot their prey. You can poke the prey to provoke them to move so your Tarantula is able to spot them.
When should I feed my Tarantula?
Tarantulas are nocturnal hunters. They prefer to hunt at night.
It is advisable to feed your Tarantula in the evening or early in the morning when the spider is most active.
How often should I feed my Tarantula?
You can feed Adult Tarantulas once per week.
Juvenile or growing Tarantulas have more dietary requirements. You can feed them for as long as they will eat. They may need to be fed every day or every other day (Skip one day).
Growing Tarantulas molt more often. Do not feed them when they are molting.
As Tarantulas grow older their growth rate slows down. They may end up eating only once every 2 or 3 weeks
What size of food should I feed my Tarantula?
The ideal size of meal to feed a Tarantula is half its leg span or prey smaller than their body size. Some Tarantulas may however eat prey as big as their body size.
You can feed your tarantula 1 to 5 crickets per feeding depending on the size of the cricket and the size of your Tarantula.
When your Tarantula is full they will stop responding to the prey.
You can also check the abdomen size to know when your Tarantula is full. If the abdomen is twice bigger than the cephalothorax you should stop feeding him or her.
What about the left overs?
Remove any uneaten food within 24 hour of feeding. Crickets or other preys if uneaten and left in the burrow may disturb your Tarantula causing them to be stressed.
The crickets may also injure your Tarantula who has a delicate body.
Left over food should also be removed from the terrarium if your Tarantula is not interested in them anymore. These may start decomposing producing favorable media for bacteria and fungi that could potentially harm your Tarantula.
Do tarantulas need water?
Tarantulas need a constant supply of clean drinking water.
In the wild they rely on dew and water droplets found on plants.
Provide a clean bowl of water at all times. Ensure that you change the water regularly.
The water bowl should be shallow to avoid the risk of your Tarantula falling into the water and drowning.
As a precaution and to provide support to your Tarantula, you can add some pebbles into the bowl of water.
Can Tarantulas eat fruits and vegetables?
Tarantulas are carnivorous animals. They rely on a diet of insects or other small animals in the wild.
To satisfy their water requirements, Tarantulas sometimes eat some fruits and vegetables.
You can try giving your Tarantula vegetables like carrots or fruits such as grapes, apples or pineapples to see if they will be interested in them. Do not make it a habit to feed them on this however.
Why is my Tarantula not eating?
Tarantulas may sometimes refuse to eat. There are many reasons why your Tarantula may refuse to eat including the following:
- If they recently had a large meal. Your Tarantula may simply be full. We recommend feeding Tarantulas once per week and to give them food smaller than their body size.
- Wrong prey. Tarantulas are fuzzy eaters and use prey vibration to pursue their meal. Some prey like the Dubai roach play dead when they feel threatened which may make your Tarantula lose interest on the meal.
- Molting. Tarantulas periodically change their exoskeleton in a process called molting. During the last few days before molting your Tarantula may abstain from food.
- Damaged fangs. If your Tarantula has damaged fangs, they may refuse to eat. Sometimes if Tarantulas have a meal too early after molting they may damage their fangs. Be careful not to feed your Tarantula too early after molting.
- Change of environment. Tarantulas suffer from depression when their environment is changed. They may refuse to eat when they are moved into a new environment. Therefore choose a terrarium that closely resembles the original habitat of your new pet Tarantula.
Do not be panic if your Tarantula refuses food for 2 or 3 consecutive feedings.
Tarantulas can survive for 1 month or more without food.
Raising insects to feed Tarantulas
It is important to note that you may have to keep Tarantulas together with some insects such as crickets or roaches to have a constant supply of food for your pet Tarantula.
You can keep the crickets or roaches in a separate Terrarium or pot. The enclosure should be kept closed to prevent the insects from coming out. Crickets require damp sand or soil.
Buy your first batch of breeding crickets from a pet store. Do not collect them from the street as they could be a source of disease to your Tarantula.
The crickets will have to be gut full. Meaning they have to fed on nutritious diets prior to being fed to Tarantulas. You may even dust the cricket with vitamin powder before feeding it to the Tarantula.
Note that crickets chirps are noisy and can be a nuisance to you or other residents in the house.
- There are several food options for pet tarantulas
- Pet Tarantulas can be fed on crickets supplemented with other insects such as roaches, moths or houseflies
- Bigger Tarantulas can be supplemented with pinky mice or small lizards
- Adults Tarantulas can be fed once per week while growing Tarantulas should be fed as long as they eat
- Ideal size of food for Tarantula is half their leg span or smaller prey than their body size
- Uneaten prey or leftover food should be removed within 24 hours of placement
- Tarantulas need water. They may feed on fruits or vegetables to get water.
- You may have to raise breeder crickets or roaches as a source of food for Tarantulas
- Crickets should be gut full before being fed to Tarantulas
You may want to read the following related article we have written on basic tarantula care.