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New To the Tarantula Scene

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by MrP, Apr 14, 2018.

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    Hi, I'm C.P.
    I have INSANE arachnophobia, but I'm trying to change that here. I am new to Tarantula's and was wondering where i should start. I would like to know the price of a sling and everything that I would require to take care of it. I was planning on my first T to be a Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens, but I am up for any suggestions. What should i expect and what is the normal protocol for eventually sexing a spider? I will say that I do have a bias for the kind of T I'd like (Vibrant in color and mostly docile). While I understand that handling is not a very good idea, could someone explain in what situation it would be acceptable. Thank you so much!
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  2. Ztesch

    Ztesch Arachnosquire

    Watch these videos and you will have a good Idea what T's you could start out with and how to take care of them.

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  3. appreciate this dude.
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  4. Ungoliant

    Ungoliant Malleus Aranearum Staff Member

    Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens is an OK beginner species, but it is rather skittish (and can be fast), so I wouldn't recommend handling it at all. (Its urticating hairs are also moderately bad, so even an otherwise uneventful handling could be an itchy experience.)

    As a recovering arachnophobe, something slower and more docile may be a better option. Euathlus sp. "red" has a reputation for being gentle and inquisitive. Grammostola pulchra or Brachypelma emilia would be other good options.

    They aren't brightly colored (although B. emilia does have rather handsome red markings), but they are better candidates for occasional handling. (See below.)

    Keep in mind that it's always possible to end up with an individual whose temperament is unusual for the species. (The Grym Reaper has an unusually defensive Brachypelma hamorii that has become something of a celebrity on our forum.) Temperament can also change over time, especially after a molt.

    Mature males are easy to sex, because their palps are tipped with little red/pink bulbs. (These are used to transfer sperm to the female.) With females and immature males, you can make an educated guess by examining the ventral (underside) of the tarantula between the first pair of booklungs.

    However, the most reliable way to sex a tarantula is to wait for it to molt and examine the same area on the inside of the exuviae (shed exoskeleton).

    Here is a video that discusses sexing with exuviae/molts:

    We generally don't recommend handling at all, as it provides no benefit to the spider but does subject it to risk of injuries or escape. (Large, bulky terrestrial species are particularly susceptible to falls and may be killed by even a short fall.) Not only could it fall off of your hands, but you could reflexively fling the tarantula to its death if you were bitten or startled.

    If you feel like you have to handle in order to recover from arachnophobia, get a slow, docile species (not skittish or defensive). Limit the frequency of handling. Always keep your hands within a few inches of a soft surface (to prevent fall injuries). Keep a catch cup handy in case it decides to make a bid for freedom.

    Test the tarantula's mood before handling with something like a straw or paintbrush. If it strikes, kicks hairs off its abdomen, or gives you a threat pose, leave it alone.
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  5. Rittdk01

    Rittdk01 Arachnoknight

    Hapalopus sp Columbia would be a great choice. Very colorful, will never need a large enclosure, are docile, great feeding response, grow very fast, and are really affordable.

    U shouldn't ever have a reason to handle.
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  6. Trust me, I'm not enthusiastically waiting to mess with a massive spider; however, I am a bit nervous as to what you all mean by "skittish". I thought it may be good to know how to handle a situation with an escape artist, surprise during maintenance, or a someone who didn't want to go to his/her new enclosure.
  7. Orionoid

    Orionoid Arachnopeon

    Oh hey! I first got into inverts while recovering from arachnophobia, too. The advice given here is very good, but I'd also like to recommend, leading up to the purchase of your first T, trying to desensitize yourself a bit in other ways. Looking at photos (especially of stereotypical "cute" spiders like jumpers) is a good way. The gallery here on AB is excellent because it comes free with captions from enthusiastic keepers who clearly love their Ts, whereas sometimes pictures from the internet can come with scaremongering captions or stupid "burn it with fire" comments. Try to find something appealing about every photo, even if it takes a long time.

    Another thing that helped--which you may not be ready for, depending how much you have worked on your phobia--is to not flee if you see a spider in your house or outside. Watch it from a distance. Usually they just sit there, or maybe creep around doing their own thing, unless you startle them. Stay a distance back and watch them until your initial spike of fear fades, if you can stand it, because that will help train you out of the response in the first place. Just watch them and try to make objective observations. Replacing fear with curiosity has been very effective for me (YMMV) and now I get way, way too excited about arachnids in general. Good luck!
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  8. Honestly my obsession with having a colorful spider isn't a priority. I was attracted to tarantulas through my intense fear of spiders. The more you look at them, the more intriguing they become. With this being said, I'm not going to act like I'm not nervous. My question for handling came from the realization that if a spider found its way out of an enclosure for any of you, you'd be able to calmly assess the situation and return the spider safely. Meanwhile, I might have a heart attack and book it to the next room (possibly in that order). I just want to get over this fear which seems to be silly when I look at all of you who've taken such a fascination and love for these animals. Also, I'm in college and these are one of the few animals which are alright in a small space setting.
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  9. Ungoliant

    Ungoliant Malleus Aranearum Staff Member

    A skittish tarantula is one that is flighty. Because of its tendency to bolt at the slightest disturbance, it is not a great candidate for handling.

    However, if you're willing to forego handling, they can be OK for beginners. (When skittish tarantulas are in their enclosures, they usually just flee into their retreats when disturbed.)

    Use a catch cup. (Keep one nearby whenever you open the enclosure.) You should never have to handle a tarantula, even during rehousings or escapes.
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  10. Can anyone tell me what the difference is between getting a matured spider right off the bat and raising a spiderling? I understand the spiderling is going to take a bit more maintenance and care, but what is the difference between the 2 experiences when starting in the world of tarantulas? Also, would it be wise for me to simply get a matured spider or is a spiderling the way to go?

    While I understand that the specific tarantulas are best for beginners, what makes that the case? Is it their low maintenance in comparison to other species?

    So far, my favorite "beginner" species have been Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens, Brachypelma klaasi, and Grammostola pulchra. What's your opinion for these spiders? (Do you personally think they are for beginners?)
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
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  11. Ungoliant

    Ungoliant Malleus Aranearum Staff Member

    While the space requirements are low, be aware that dormitories may routinely spray pesticides. (The same is true of apartments.) Invertebrates are much more sensitive to pesticides than the dogs or cats you may have had as pets before.

    Moreover, some dormitories have strict no-pet policies.

    If you're sharing your room or apartment with another person, it is courteous to at least consult that person before getting a pet. (Selling points for tarantulas are that they require very little space, do not smell bad, do not make noise, and are very low-maintenance.)

    Research these issues before getting your tarantula.

    A combination of factors:
    • temperament: species that are docile or at least not defensive -- ideally ones that won't hide 24/7 either, because new keepers usually don't want pet holes or ghosts
    • potency of venom: we don't recommend species that have more potent venom (species from Africa, Asia, and Australia)
    • hardiness: are you going to kill it if conditions are not perfect?
    • ease of keeping: species that require dry or only slightly damp substrate, as it's more challenging to dial in the right moisture levels for species that require more moisture
    • availability: the perfect species is no good if you can't find one for sale
    • price: species that are not too expensive (at least as slings)

    The main difference between sling care and juvenile/adult care is that slings (regardless of species) need part of their substrate to be kept slightly moist, because they haven't yet developed the waxy layer on their cuticle that prevents them from losing moisture through their cuticle. Once they develop this layer (1.5" or so, maybe earlier for some arid species like GBB), you can transition to the adult moisture requirements.

    It's really up to you whether you go with a sling, a juvenile, or an adult. For first-time keepers, I often recommend a juvenile, because it's past the more fragile sling stage, and many new keepers want to start with something that actually looks like a tarantula and not just a large brown spider.

    That being said, slings are a fine option if you don't require the instant gratification of a larger spider. (You may find its small size less intimidating, as it will grow with your confidence.) Some qualities of each:

    • inexpensive (some less than $10)
    • initially requires minimal space and money for a setup (they're commonly kept in condiment cups until they reach 1")
    • the satisfaction of watching them grow up
    • a little more fragile than juveniles
    • tend to be nondescript-looking brown spiders
    • tend to be skittish/reclusive (keeping it in a condiment cup will mitigate this)

    juveniles and adults
    • more expensive (especially if it's been sexed as female)
    • will already have its adult coloring and temperament

    Not sure whether you want a sling or an adult? Try a juvenile. You'll still have the experience of watching it grow, but it will be past the more fragile sling stage.

    Tomoran recently posted a helpful guide for people who are new to slings (long but worth watching, IMO):

    Any of those would be a fine option. I currently have one Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens and two Grammostola pulchra. I don't have any Brachypelma, but those are generally fine for beginners too.

    Grammostola pulchra is a good beginner species, because it tends to be very easygoing. Once it's past the sling stage, it's usually not going to hide. (Although one of my pulchras is a skittish, reclusive snowflake.) The only downside is price/availability. (I have seen some for sale lately, but they tend to be among the more expensive beginner options.)

    Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens is nice, because it's extremely hardy (dry substrate for juveniles and adults), colorful, and makes interesting webs. The downside is skittishness. If you get one of these, I'd get a sling. It grows fast and goes through some nice color changes.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
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  12. LOOK AT IT GO!
    It's a big ol' thang! I like it's color, it's like a spider from Animal Crossing!

    Left = Jack-o-Lantern
    Right = Madam Octa from Cirque du Freak

    So far I've deduced that I should get a spiderling (not only because I want the experience but also because you said the words "less expensive"). Honestly, I've been saving up to go all out on a tarantula and all of its necessities for a long time so money isn't really an issue I'm just a cheapskate :]
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  13. Ungoliant

    Ungoliant Malleus Aranearum Staff Member

    She's my favorite (but don't tell my arboreals).

    That's actually the same tarantula. The left is when I got him as a 0.75" sling in September 2016. The right is a recent photo of him as a 3.5" juvenile.

    If you get a sling, don't spend much on its first enclosure. Seriously, a condiment cup is great until it's about 1" in diagonal leg span.
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  14. That's the same tarantula? I thought that was a pumpkin patch tarantula! That's so cool. He's really gorgeous(handsome.. i meant handsome... i think). When I get to where I know what I'm doing with spiders, I want to find a really colorful, blue tarantula!
    Anyway, can you explain to me Arboreal vs Terrestrial and Old World vs New World?
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  15. Orionoid

    Orionoid Arachnopeon

    Arboreal vs terrestrial is exactly what it sounds like; tree-dwelling vs land-dwelling. Arboreals need vertical space, terrestrials need more horizontal space and limited vertical space to mitigate fall risk.

    New world T's are from the Americas. Old World means pretty much from everywhere else (Africa, Asia, etc). New World spiders tend to have less potent venom, but use urticating hairs to defend themselves. A lot of New World terrestrial species are recommended as good beginner tarantulas because they (again, TEND) to be slower/more docile. Old World spiders are, generally, faster, more defensive, and have a nastier bite if you get tagged by one. Generally you just have to be a lot more prepared to deal with an OW, know what you'll do to mitigate escape risk during rehousing, etc.
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  16. boina

    boina Lady of the mites Arachnosupporter

    Arboreal spiders are generally faster and often more flighty than terrestrials. Their setups are also a little more involved. You basically need to build them some kind of "tree" replacement and different species like there "trees" to be different.

    Terrestrial spiders are easy to set up. Dirt, a hide, and a water bowl and you are done.

    I need about 5 minutes to set up a terrestrial enclosure but at least half an hour to set up an (adult) arboreal ;). You can get very creative with an arboreal enclosure but you have more opportunities to get things wrong.
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  17. Ungoliant

    Ungoliant Malleus Aranearum Staff Member

    Like I said, they go through many cool color phases as they grow. And while most slings are a nondescript brown, Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens has striking markings -- I almost like their sling colors more than their adult colors.

    These are all photos of the same male Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens, from youngest to oldest:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Now he seems to be a bit darker than the average GBB. I'm looking forward to seeing how he looks after his next molt.
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  18. How is he as far as maintenance and attitude?
  19. cold blood

    cold blood Moderator Staff Member

    I've been exactly where you are.

    As a former arachnophobe, I am going to recommend a Chilean rose hair (G.porteri or rosea) as your first. For enthusiastic beginners they are ones I tell people to avoid, simply because of the inactivity...but for an arachnophobe, this inactivity is precisely what you want and probably need to keep your mind at ease and gain the confidence you want and need...a t that sits calmly and doesn't move or react when you open the top or do maintenance. This is really important in helping an arachnophobe recognize that they are safe and prevents over-reactions and irrational thoughts...they really are the most perfect t for someone getting over arachnophobia....get a slow t, and take things slow.

    These ts are readily available as adults, require basically nothing but a water dish and are pretty inexpensive...and they live probably longer than anything else there is, so you don't have to be concerned with getting an older adult.

    IMO a fast, skittish t would be exactly what you don't want...the pumpkin patch suggested just might be the worst possible choice for an arachnophobe. JMO
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  20. Garth Vader

    Garth Vader Arachnohipster

    I agree with this. I have a pumpkin patch which I got it as my 6th tarantula, so I already had some experience. It is a very skittish and extremely fast spider. It got loose one day when I was messing around with a cricket in the enclosure and DUDE it was fast. I would not recommend this as a first tarantula, especially for someone with some fear of spiders.
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