Tarantulas are insect-feeding animals, so food will be relatively cheap. When feeding, the size of the prey must be taken into account – this insect must be a maximum of 1/4 of the size of the tarantula.
However, experienced spider lovers have noticed throughout the time that spiders can sometimes take food that does not move, at home.
The amount of food consumed by spiders is not as considerable as the size of the insect might suggest. Due to the low metabolic rate, an average adult tarantula needs six to eight crickets a month, to live comfortably.
Among the insects that are included in the diet of a tarantula are crickets, grasshopper, cockroach, worms, among others, however, crickets are their favorite food. Something fundamental, that shouldn’t be ignored is the fact that you should not offer something that can hurt your tarantula, such as bees and wasps.
If you place the food and see that your tarantula does not devour it, remove it from the terrarium and wait a day to repeat the process. It may reject it again, so you will need to wait longer to feed it again. Your tarantula may shed or simply not have an appetite.
Remember that tarantulas eat once a week and can even stay longer without food. It is important to remember that insects must be alive for your pet to devour them.
It should be noted that young tarantulas are able to live without water and food for several weeks and mature specimens can live for several months under similar conditions. Giant tarantulas such as Theraphosa Blondi can give up food 2-3 months before the molting and will not eat until 1-2 months after the molting. In the case of a specimen such as Grammostola Rosea, observed under natural conditions, it was found that the period of refusal of food and water lasted half a year.
Very important: Do not forget to put water in the terrarium so that the tarantula can drink. You can put water in a 1-inch plastic bowl if it is an adult arachnoid.
The moment you go to feed your tarantula, the first thing you should do is to locate it. If you see that the tarantula has climbed on the terrarium and is very close to the lid, you should gently push it with any tool that serves you and that does not harm it.
Using the tweezers, take one of the insects you will feed your spider and quickly place it in the terrarium.
What should I do with the leftovers?
If the tarantula does not consume everything, you must take out the prey if possible. Special attention should be paid to removing the uneaten insects from the terrarium in time. The tarantula is defenseless in the molting period, and the crickets, attacking a spider that is incapable of defending itself, can seriously hurt or even kill it.
It is also not recommended to feed small or young spiders with crickets, whose size is similar to or exceeds the size of the tarantula – it is better to avoid the damage that occurs during the fight.
What are the requirements for insects as food? Firstly, they must not have a strong, repellent smell, be nutritious, useful, and free of harmful substances.
The most common food for spiders available at the pet and fishing shops are the graveers (house, banana, and two-smudges) and worms.
House crickets do not bury themselves in the substrate; instead, they move quickly and are therefore well recognized by spiders.
Mass Worms, unlike crickets, disappear quickly from the visual range of the terrarium. To avoid starvation, place a flat plate into the terrarium, into which you should pour bran flakes or fine oat flakes, and then add the worms of flour in the same dry plate. However, care should be taken not to place a large amount of flour in the plate, so that the worms cannot completely crowd into it. If the worms are buried in the earth’s terrarium, they can turn into slightly harder black cockroaches that still serve as good food. In general, worms are suitable for feeding growing tarantulas.
With worms, for example, you should take care because they can dig and subsequently attack the tarantula during their season of movement. It is also good to remove the leftovers so that the terrarium is kept as clean as possible.
Worms. The unquestionable advantages of this food include the small size of larvae, the low cost, and widespread prevalence – worms can be found in any pet store or bird market. In addition, they are excellent for home storage and are not harmful to tarantulas. Recommended for feeding young spiders. Non-nutritive and suitable only for small spiders.
Many arachnologists consider that marble cockroaches are the most suitable food for small tarantulas. This is a small species of beetles originating from the Caribbean Islands, approximately 2,5 cm to 3 cm long. Them getting picked as food for non-adult spiders is due to the fact that these insects are nutritious, without pretensions. The doubtless benefit of marble cockroaches is their low cost and high fertility; maintaining optimal humidity, “marble” has a little odor. Nevertheless, spiders notice that the beetles are crawling on the glass and have the ability to bury themselves in the substrate.
Zophobas caterpillars, although frequent in Central and South America, are also recognized by arachnologists as the optimum diet of tarantulas. Apparently, they look like little flour beetles but exceed them in size. These insects as food are quite frequent and are not difficult to preserve.
Another fairly popular food insect for large spiders is the Madagascar cockroach. It is not poisonous, it’s pretty much harmless, has no wings, grows to large sizes, and reproduces well. In addition, the appearance of the Madagascar beetle is much more pleasant than the appearance of its marble lime, but, as a general rule, the cost of such beetles is a little higher.
Some spider lovers occasionally feed their pet tarantulas with grasshoppers, which contain all necessary vitamins and minerals. Please note that there are several types of grasshoppers, some of them representing a potential danger to spiders, while others, on the contrary, will not cause any injury to the structure of the tarantula’s mouth. However, the grasshoppers’ legs can pose a serious threat, which is why some holders prefer to break them before serving them. However, particular attention needs to be paid if the region where you live is developed in agriculture: the agricultural crops are poisoned with hazardous pesticides, so the use of such grasshoppers is considered high risk.
Flour beetle is not dangerous, is not poisonous for the tarantulas, and does not move on smooth surfaces (glass or plastic). The beetles, as well as larvae and the legs of the beetle, are good food for many spiders.
There is also the practice of feeding tarantulas raw meat in different variants. Usually, to create the illusion of live prey, a small piece of meat is attached to a straw or to the end of a cord. You should know that this is an extreme option of feeding; it should only be used in cases where other foods are not available. In any case, the consumption of raw meat depends on the specifics of the spider’s specimen, because some eat it voluntarily, while others never eat it. However, you should not feed the spider meat already cooked, for example, smoked, due to the toxicity of the chemicals used in its preparation.
There are known cases of feeding tarantulas even with fish, but there is also a danger of contaminating the tarantula with harmful substances used to protect the fish from dying during their transportation.
Many breeders recommend not to feed tarantulas with mice and rats. Firstly, animals as food must not be treated with insecticides, which cannot be guaranteed when purchasing a rodent. Moreover, mice can bite spiders. Also, if the rat is larger in size than the tarantula, the process of eating the rodent is delayed for 4-5 hours, and during this time the carcass is already beginning to decompose.
The frequency of meals and the size of the food depends on the age of the tarantula.
In the case of intensive growth of young specimens, the method of continuous feeding is recommended, e.g., once the tarantula has consumed the food, feed it again. If such a strategy is adopted, together with high temperature, young tarantulas grow rapidly and visibly with each moult.
Feeding of tarantula twice a week is recommended. The dimensions of the feed must not exceed the dimensions of its abdomen. On the other hand, intensive adult feeding accelerates the aging process. It is recommended to feed them up to 2-3 times a month.
The diet of captive tarantulas consists of different species of crickets, beetles, worms, grasshoppers, locks, small lizards, newborn or young mice.
The most important principle of feeding a tarantula is offering an as varied diet as possible, that does not endanger its health.
There is also the possibility of feeding tarantulas with other invertebrates or vertebrates from nature, but in this way, they can bring parasites or pesticides in the terrarium that can the tarantula to get sick or even die. It is recommended to use this method only in cases of major need and the food should be collected from unpolluted areas.