What do tarantulas eat and drink

Tarantulas are nocturnal carnivores that eat and drink from a wide variety of meats depending on where they live and the availability of prey.

Tarantulas are skilled hunters that do not lay traps for their prey like other spiders. Instead, tarantulas prefer to ambush and actively chase their prey.

In the wild, tarantulas are nocturnal hunters and feed on a wide variety of insects and small animals. In captivity, tarantulas are basically fed on gut loaded crickets supplemented occasionally with other insects.

What do tarantulas eat and drink in the wild?

Tarantulas are skilled hunters that can take on even bigger prey. Depending on where they live, tarantulas hunt a wide variety of insects and small animals.

In the wild, tarantulas feed on many kinds of large insects including.

  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Beetles
  • Caterpillars
  • Moths
  • Cicadas
  • Millipedes

Some larger species of tarantulas hunt small animals including.

  • Mice
  • Small lizards
  • Small birds
  • Frogs
  • Small snakes
  • Other spiders

What do pet tarantulas eat and drink?

Tarantulas are popular pets in the modern world that are consider as not dangerous to humans.

In captivity, the diet of tarantulas should mimic the diet of wild tarantulas as much as is possible. Therefore, since tarantulas are carnivorous, pet tarantulas should be fed on a meat diet.

We recommend feeding tarantulas on gut loaded crickets supplemented with other insects. However, there are several food options that you can chose from when feeding pet tarantulas.

Food options for pet tarantulas

You can feed your pet tarantula(s) on the following insects

  1. Crickets – all tarantulas love and eat crickets. Crickets are a good source of proteins, fats and vitamins. Additionally they are readily available. We therefore recommend crickets as the main source of food (staple food) for your pet tarantula.
  2. Roaches – there are a number of roaches that you can feed your tarantula but the most common are Dubia roaches, Turkestan roaches and Madagascar hissing roaches. Roaches are more nutritious and are packed with proteins, fats, calcium, and vitamins. They are also easy to handle, breed and cleaner than crickets and easy to gut load too. You can use roaches as a staple food for your pet tarantula.
  3.  Moths – moths are a good source of protein and fats. You can therefore feed your tarantula on moths but do not use them as the staple food.
  4. Meal worms – tarantulas can also eat mealworms as they are also good source of proteins, fats and vitamins. Not good for staple food though.
  5. Super worms – super worms just like meal worms are a good source of proteins, fats and vitamins and thus make good food for tarantulas. They are large in size hence perfect for large tarantulas. Additionally, they can easily be bred in colonies.
  6. Grasshoppers – Grasshoppers are an excellent source of protein and therefore make a good source of food for tarantulas. Ensure that you feed your pet Tarantula on a grasshopper that is smaller in size than their body size.

However, if you have bigger Tarantulas, you can also feed them on small animals such as;

  1. Pinky mice
  2. Baby rodents
  3. Small lizards
  4. Small birds or hatch-lings
  5. Small snakes
  6. Frogs

How often should I feed my pet tarantula?

There are a number of factors that determine how often and the size of prey that you can feed your pet tarantula including; age, body size and molting status.

If you have an adult tarantula, you can feed them once per week or even once every fortnight depending on the size of prey that you feed them. Adult tarantulas will keep eating until they are full and may abstain from food if they are about to lay eggs or molt.

Juvenile or growing Tarantulas have more dietary requirements. They therefore need to eat more often. As such you can feed young tarantulas twice per week.  However, younger tarantulas may need to be fed every day or every other day (Skip one day).

It is important to feed juvenile tarantulas regularly as they can easily become dehydrated and die. Additionally, remember that growing Tarantulas molt more often. Do not feed them when they are molting.

When should I feed my Tarantula?

Tarantulas are nocturnal hunters. They prefer to hunt at night and are more active at night.

We therefore recommend that you schedule feeding your tarantula in the evening or early in the morning. This is because your tarantula will be more active during those times.

You can feed in the evening then remove the left overs in the morning. However, you can design your feeding schedule based on your flexibility.

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.

Serving food to your 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.

If you feed dead prey such as pinky mice, you can dangle it on a string to make it lifelike so your tarantula can feed on it.

What about left over food?

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 mold that could potentially harm your Tarantula.

What do tarantulas drink? Do tarantulas drink water?

Tarantulas like all other animals need a constant supply of clean drinking water in order to survive.

In the wild, tarantulas rely on dew and water droplets found on plants as a source of drinking water. Some tarantulas however, for example those found in desert areas rely on fluids they obtain from their prey.

Water is important as it enables tarantulas to regulate most body processes. Therefore you should ensure that you provide a clean bowl of drinking water for your pet tarantula at all times. Remember to regularly clean the water bowl and change the water daily.

Use a water bowl that is shallow to avoid the risk of your Tarantula falling into the water and drowning. Ideally, the water should be just deep enough for your pet tarantula to deep his or her fangs.

As a precaution and to provide support to your Tarantula, you can add some pebbles into the bowl of water.

Breeding insects for tarantulas to eat and drink

 In order to have a constant supply of food for your tarantula, we recommend breeding insects such as crickets or roaches. 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.

Raising crickets for tarantulas

In order to raise crickets you need to buy a number of large containers to keep your crickets in. You need at least containers, one for breeding and the other for maturing or fattening young crickets. Additionally you need to buy vermiculite such as to layer the bottom of the container. You will need to change the vermiculite once every 4 – 6 weeks.

Cut 2 holes on the lid to make the container breathable then cover the top with a metal mosquito screen (mesh) to prevent the crickets from escaping. We do not recommend a plastic screen as the crickets can chew through the plastic to escape.

For the breeding container place a smaller disposable container with dump topsoil for the females to lay eggs. Ensure that the topsoil is free from fertilizer and pesticides.

Buy your first batch of breeding crickets from a pet store. Do not collect them from the street. Preferably buy more females than males. Place the crickets in a breeding container and feed them.

You can feed them using commercial cricket food or use a substitute such as dry cat food. Supplement the dry food with fruits, vegetables to ensure that the crickets are healthy. Additionally, ensure that you provide the crickets with adequate drinking water to keep them alive.

Warm the crickets using a reptile heater and allow them to breed. The females will lay eggs in the topsoil. When full, incubate the eggs in an incubation container at between 80 – 95 °F for about 2 weeks.

Once hatched, transfer the hatchlings to a rearing container and feed them till they are either big enough to be eaten by your tarantula or be transferred back to the breeding container.

Raising roaches for tarantulas

Roaches are easier to raise than crickets.

To raise roaches, you need to buy a large container to keep the roaches in. Cut 2 holes on the lid of the container to make it breathable. Then place a mosquito screen on top to prevent the roaches from escaping.

You can use egg cartons or any type of substrate of your choosing to layer the floor of the container. When raising roaches, ensure that you maintain the temperatures at about 85 °F.

Buy your breeding roaches from a pet shop ensuring that you have a male and a female. Transfer the roaches to the breeding container and feed them.

You can feed them on vegetables, fruits and grains such as carrots, mangoes, bananas, apples, cherries, fresh corn or green vegetables among many others. Alternatively, you can also feed them with grain based cat or dog food.

Allow them to breed. The eggs hatch inside the female’s body 28 days after mating. Once the hatchlings come out, continue feeding them until they are big enough to be eaten or serve as breeding roaches.

Gut loading insects for tarantulas

In order to feed your pet tarantula on a healthy diet, you need to gut load your feeder insects before feeding them to the tarantula.

Gut loading ensures that you provide your tarantula with all the essential nutrients that they need to be healthy.

To gut load feeder insects, offer them a variety of vegetables and fruits to ensure that they are packed with vitamins and minerals before being eaten by tarantulas. You can even dust the insects with vitamin powder before feeding the tarantula.

FAQs about tarantula food

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Molting. Tarantulas periodically change their exoskeleton in a process called molting. During the last few days before molting your Tarantula may abstain from food.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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 however 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.

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