Decorate according to the specific needs of the tarantula.
One of the most important questions to ask yourself when deciding the layout and structure of your tarantulas cage is to make sure you are meeting your pet tarantulas needs. All this will vary depending on the species and size of your tarantula. Tanks and aquariums work well, as long as you ensure that the top of the tank is sealed tightly whereby the tarantula remains enclosed. To tarantulas, climbing glass is not a huge feat. This is because of the minute ‘hooks’ on its pads / feet, to tarantulas, a piece of glass is nothing more than a jagged rock face. The place where you locate the tank is also very important. Avoid areas with direct sunlight and away from places where there is a lot of heavy foot traffic and vibrations. For instance, don’t place it right next to your stereo system. Lastly, always remember that nicotine is a strong and powerful insecticide so keep your distance from your pet tarantula when smoking!
The tarantula’s home
When setting up a home for your pet tarantula the 4 most important things you must consider are safety, security, heating and size. Remember that tarantulas are cannibalistic, spiders should never be kept together. Tarantulas are notorious for being escape artists. Always ensure that the lid is always closed, the best cage I recommend is a fish tank or terrarium with a locking mesh screen top. A minimum tank size for housing your pet spider is five gallons. Tarantulas do not require plants or decorations, but they can be used if you want to make your pet’s home more attractive. Silk or plastic plants are much more durable than live plants, and they eliminate the possibility of the substrate and cage becoming too wet due to watering. Fake plants also do not require light and tarantulas prefer dark cages. Of course, however, live plants are without a doubt more attractive, personally I think it’s a good trade-off. Bear in mind that tarantulas are nocturnal and a hiding place is definitely required. Cork bark, hollow logs and driftwood are attractive items to decorate with and can provide your tarantula with a welcome hiding place. Avoid any items that have sharp edges or are excessively rough in texture. When thinking about using decor or materials from outdoors, always make sure that they have not been exposed to pesticides, fertilizers or any other hazardous materials, also remember to sterilize all items before inserting into the terrarium. When designing your enclosure remember that terrestrial (ground-dwelling) tarantulas like more ground space and a deeper substrate, whereas arboreal (tree-dwelling) tarantulas need taller enclosures with a piece of cork bark or similar item to climb and attach silk nests. Terrariums should be sized to each of your tarantulas specific needs, in general 3 times the leg span across and 2 times for the height is a good guideline to follow.
Cleaning the Tarantulas Habitat
In general cleaning the tarantula’s cage should not be cleaned more than every 4 – 6 months. Tarantulas are not messy pets, they excrete a quick-drying fluid that has virtually no smell or mess. Before transporting your pet tarantula, ensure that you are in a confined space as these pets are quick on their feet to find hard to get to hiding places. Always transfer your tarantula to a secure holding container before beginning to clean the tank. Remove everything from the tank, wash it inside out. Replace all the substrate and don’t forget to scrub out the water dish, don’t just rinse it. The water dish will need to be cleaned regularly to prevent it from becoming moldy or fouled by an insect that drowns. Remember, the more you put in, the more you have got to clean….and you will have to clean the enclosure at some time. Some people like to decorate the interior with silk plants, leaves etc. It is not necessary and is more of a personal choice rather than a requirement for their habitat, simple is best. However, most tarantula owners like to decorate with real plants and leaves, thus giving it a very naturalistic look. The trade-off, of course being a more through cleaning, is worth it? That is a question you will have to answer when setting up the cage / enclosure for your tarantula.
Most tarantulas can be kept in the range of 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is room temperature in a most homes. In other words, most tarantulas do not require supplemental heat in all but the coolest households. However if you live in a colder climate (Below 60 degrees F) then I would recommend the Zoo Med ReptiTherm® Under Tank Heater. Some tropical species may require temperature in the upper 70s during the day, but no tarantula should be kept much above 80 for any extended periods of time. Fluctuating temperatures are best, generally with nights cooler than days. When kept cooler than optimum tarantulas will become inactive, but should be in no danger at temperatures comfortable to you. If heat is required it is best to use a very small reptile heat pad placed near the enclosure or on the side of a larger tank, but certainly not beneath or in direct contact as you would use it for any other reptile.
My Recommended choice:
I always recommend Zoo Med ReptiTherm® Under Tank Heater because there are the most reasonable and reliable ones out there. I use it for all my Terrariums and have never been dissatisfied once. Avoid using light as a heat source as tarantulas generally prefer dark conditions. Radiant heat sources such as light bulbs create overly dry conditions, but a black or red incandescent bulb can be an effective heat source but only if used carefully. However, be mindful that the warmer the terrarium the faster your tarantula grows. This is simply because the metabolic rate of your tarantula will increase several times. Not only that, it dehydrates quicker so as an owner you must be extremely observant and cautious of its environment. When placing a black or red incandescent bulb set it up several feet away from the cage. Keep in mind that the warmer you keep your tarantula, the higher its metabolic rate will be. It will want to eat more often and will grow more quickly. It will also dehydrate quicker so you must be very observant of the environment and diligent with care. Most tarantulas that I recommend on this site in general will do just fine around 55 – 70% humidity, except for the Avicularia Versicolor which happens to be one I recommend to beginners (people disagree but I beg to differ) that requires fairly high humidity. More often than not, a slightly lower humidity level is better than a higher one. High humidity often results in mildew and mold problems in the terrarium. If you find that your pet tarantula is reluctant to walk on the substrate, it might be too damp. If your tarantula species requires moderate to high humidity like such, you can provide this by keeping the substrate partially or mostly moist. Overflowing the water-dish one one side of the cage is one way to keep humidity levels high, if that is not sufficient, lightly misting the cage works as well. If you use a light for heat and display, be sure to monitor the humidity levels closely. Turn the light off at night unless it gets below 60 degrees in your house. It is advisable to let the temperature decrease as much as 10 degrees at night, especially for desert tarantulas.
For my next recommendation, the Exo Terra Digital Combination Thermometer is also on my list. Not only does it provide a simple button operation, more importantly it provides accurate temperature and humidity indication