New and wanting to start out right.

Rue

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
239
Hi!

I am seriously thinking of finally getting a tarantula (been thinking about it for 20 years). Just one, as a pet, no interest in collecting. I'm an entomologist by profession and I've reared/kept various insects and black widow spiders over the years and even though I've done a fair amount of reading on tarantulas in particular I still have questions:

1. Is there a conscenus as to substrate? What's best and easiest?

2. We live in what I call a northern desert - so the house is very dry. I don't want humidity in the spider cage to become a source of stress, so although I'd like to get a Singapore Blue, I'm thinking I'd be better off with a Red-kneed. I am open to suggestions though.

3. The house is also quite cold in the winter (I keep it at 19 C). Today it's -37 C (-50 C with the windchill) outside, which doesn't help. Do you recommend a heating pad? Or does that just dry out the cage too much?

4. Because this is a pet, I want the enclosure to look 'pretty' vs. utlilitarian - anything major I need to watch out for or avoid?

I'll likely have more questions - thanks for your patience! :)
 

KoriTamashii

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 21, 2009
Messages
420
Hi!

I am seriously thinking of finally getting a tarantula (been thinking about it for 20 years). Just one, as a pet, no interest in collecting. I'm an entomologist by profession and I've reared/kept various insects and black widow spiders over the years and even though I've done a fair amount of reading on tarantulas in particular I still have questions:

1. Is there a conscenus as to substrate? What's best and easiest?

2. We live in what I call a northern desert - so the house is very dry. I don't want humidity in the spider cage to become a source of stress, so although I'd like to get a Singapore Blue, I'm thinking I'd be better off with a Red-kneed. I am open to suggestions though.

3. The house is also quite cold in the winter (I keep it at 19 C). Today it's -37 C (-50 C with the windchill) outside, which doesn't help. Do you recommend a heating pad? Or does that just dry out the cage too much?

4. Because this is a pet, I want the enclosure to look 'pretty' vs. utlilitarian - anything major I need to watch out for or avoid?

I'll likely have more questions - thanks for your patience! :)

1) Coco fiber or peat moss. Can't go wrong with either. Some people use a mixture of the two.

2) It's actually a Mexican Red Knee, but around here, you'd do better to call them by their scientific names, since common names aren't always consistent. That would be a Brachypelma smithi, and they are a great species for beginners. If you do go with a B. smithi, humidity will not be an issue. Just keep a water dish topped off at all times, and you're set. This species prefers it on the dry side.

3) Honestly, if you're comfortable, the spider will be, too. A member here keeps their tarantulas around 64 degrees F, and they do just fine. If it's any lower than that, perhaps you should invest in a space heater.

4) As long as the tarantula has a hide and a water dish, he/she will be happy. Adding colorful fake plants can make for a more aesthetically pleasing (at least for us people!) enclosure.

:)

Welcome to the hobby!
 

curiousme

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 11, 2008
Messages
1,659
Hi!

I am seriously thinking of finally getting a tarantula (been thinking about it for 20 years). Just one, as a pet, no interest in collecting. I'm an entomologist by profession and I've reared/kept various insects and black widow spiders over the years and even though I've done a fair amount of reading on tarantulas in particular I still have questions:
Welcome to the forum! :)

1. Is there a conscenus as to substrate? What's best and easiest?
Peat moss, coco fiber and potting soil(no ferts) are all suitable substrates byt themselves, or mixed with one of the others. Some say that peat has less of a chance of catering to mold, but we have had mold on both peat and coco fiber; so I would say go with what sounds the best/ you have lying around/ is cheapest.

2. We live in what I call a northern desert - so the house is very dry. I don't want humidity in the spider cage to become a source of stress, so although I'd like to get a Singapore Blue, I'm thinking I'd be better off with a Red-kneed. I am open to suggestions though.
Humidity can be maintained with less ventilation and large water dishes, but in order to answer your question, I have one for you.

What are you looking for in a tarantula as a pet?

A L. violaceopes(Singapore blue) is a large and beautiful spider, but reclusive and semi arboreal. Whereas B. smithi(Mexican red knee) is usually an out in the open, good for display 'terrestrial' spider. Both have different growth rates, so that could play into your decision as well.

3. The house is also quite cold in the winter (I keep it at 19 C). Today it's -37 C (-50 C with the windchill) outside, which doesn't help. Do you recommend a heating pad? Or does that just dry out the cage too much?
Our tarantulas are kept in the mid to high 60's F and have no problems. If you are going for growth though, warmer temps will help speed that along. Personally I wouldn't recommend a heating pad, because most are pretty useless at heating a tank. That is unless you invest in a more expensive one and I personally see no need for that.

4. Because this is a pet, I want the enclosure to look 'pretty' vs. utlilitarian - anything major I need to watch out for or avoid?
Watch your wood. Cork bark is very resistant to mold, but if you are using other wood and adding plants to improve the prettiness(I do recommend that) just make sure to try and keep the wood dry. Mold isn't especially hazardous to a T, but who wants to break down an enclosure to take out moldy wood? Most mites and springtails are equally as harmless, but there seems to be a pervading fear of them around here at times.

I'll likely have more questions - thanks for your patience! :)
Thank you for asking your questions so neatly and concisely, much appreciated. Scientific names leave no room for confusion like common names sometimes do, but take a bit to get the hang of. Though with your background I am sure you'll do fine. Once again, welcome to the forum! :)
 

Rue

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
239
Thanks guys! I normally don't bother using scientific names, because no one knows what I'm talking about...:D But I can indulge here!

I do have to decide whether I want an arboreal or not...and then see how hard it is to order one by mail. Apparently our local city has by-laws restricting species they can bring in for sale. We don't live in the city, so the ownership by-laws won't affect me, but my 'hands-on' supply is limited to 4-5 common species from what I understand.
 

curiousme

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 11, 2008
Messages
1,659
Thanks guys! I normally don't bother using scientific names, because no one knows what I'm talking about...:D But I can indulge here!

I do have to decide whether I want an arboreal or not...and then see how hard it is to order one by mail. Apparently our local city has by-laws restricting species they can bring in for sale. We don't live in the city, so the ownership by-laws won't affect me, but my 'hands-on' supply is limited to 4-5 common species from what I understand.
Do you know what those species are?

AND there is a Canadian subforum that you should join. They will know all about the shipping situations. :) You get to it by clicking on User CP in the to left and then click on Group memberships. Click the Canadian forum and you should be good to go!
 

Rue

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
239
I just checked the by-law...genera Aphonopelma, Avicularia and Grammostola are permitted.

That narrows down my local choices...

Does Aphonopelma have another name?

Thank you...I'll check out the Canadian site!:D
 

Chris_Skeleton

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Jan 31, 2010
Messages
1,310
I just checked the by-law...genera Aphonopelma, Avicularia and Grammostola are permitted.

That narrows down my local choices...

Does Aphonopelma have another name?

Thank you...I'll check out the Canadian site!:D
What do you mean does it have another name?

From those, I would recommend G. pulchra, G. pulchripes, Avicularia (avicularia, versicolor, or metallica), and Aphonopelma hentzi or seemanni.
 

Rue

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
239
I'll check those out. Thanks!

Genera/species (even orders) are often reassigned names (sometimes called synonyms). If the new name gets used or not depends on the users in some cases, or for a specific condition. So yes, there's 'one' correct scientific name, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone uses it.
 

Suidakkra

Arachnosquire
Arachnosupporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2010
Messages
147
I just checked the by-law...genera Aphonopelma, Avicularia and Grammostola are permitted.

That narrows down my local choices...

Does Aphonopelma have another name?

Thank you...I'll check out the Canadian site!:D
Just to let you know that in Canada, it is rather hard to find Aphonopelma species, due to the US banning exportation. Tarantula Canada usually do have some listed on their availability list, but only so often.

And welcome to a rather addicting hobby. Tarantulas are like potato chips, you take out one, but eventually you have the entire bag in your bowl, lol.
 

curiousme

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 11, 2008
Messages
1,659
Those 3 are all good beginner genera IMO. Aphonopelma being the more docile of the terrestrials and Avicularia are kind of the teddy bears of arboreals.

We have had 4 Avicularia species, both adults and tiny spiderlings we have grown to large juveniles and none have been defensive. Most were/ are slightly skittish and prone to bolting for short bursts as a result, but not nearly as skittish as the other arboreals we have. They can be prone to jumping when handled, but as long as you are keeping your hands close to the floor it isn't a problem IME. They will have milder venom and there is a bite report section, if you would like to see what others experienced with the species you are looking into. They make very pretty tube webs and come in many different colors. Overall, I do recommend Avicularia as a beginner species. They also will not live as long as some of your other N](ew)W(orld) tarantulas, -10+ years, as opposed to 20+ years for females.

Aphonopelma species are terrestrial and some of them are from right here in the US. They are also docile by reputation, but individual in their demeanor. Most are different shades of browns, but they are still beautiful in their own right. We have 2 different Aphonopelma species. Our A. hentzi we have raised from a very small C(aptive)B(red)spiderling and our A. sp.Guatemala was a W(ild)C(aught) specimen bought at a L(ocal)P(et)S(tore). Both will burrow and stay out in the open, depending on the season. The A. hentzi has actually spent all 3 winters burrowed down and unseen until spring, which can cause some anxiety for new owners. At least it did for me. :) However, when they emerge in their newly molted colors, metallic golden carapace and chocolatey browns for the A. hentzi and gun metal blue for the A. sp.Guatemala, it always make the wait worth it. The A. hentzi is very handleable, but we haven't tried to handle the other as of yet.

Grammostola is another good beginner genus. The G. rosea(Chilean rose) is probably one of the most common beginner species around, because they can still be exported and therefore WC specimens can be bought at a LPS. They are very pretty after they molt, with a metallic pink carapace. We have a WC adult G. rosea and a CB spiderling of the R(ed)C(olor)F(orm) and 2 G. pulchra. The pulchra are my favorites hands down, because they are a beautiful svelte black after a molt. They are very docile and handleable as well and I just really like the species, so recommend it highly. :)


Like all tarantulas they are individual in their personality and demeanor, so even if you get a beginner species it may not be the sweet spider you hoped for. The personality can also change from molt to molt. As far as handling, it purely for the human's benefit the spider gets nothing from it. We do it in limited amounts, but take the necessary precautions to try and prevent injuries. (if you care to learn how to handle or are just thinking about it, please feel free to do a search to get all the opinions on the subject you need as it can become a heated subject) Also, here is a link to our handling videos of several of the Ts I mentioned above. :)

I fear I may have written a novel here, but also check out the link in my signature for a great guide to commonly asked questions.:D
 
Last edited:

jebbewocky

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Messages
910
Individual Aphonopelma might have synonyms, but I'm not aware of any for the genus as a whole. Honestly, any of those three genre would work for a beginner--I'd reccomend the Avicularia, primarily because they don't kick hairs as much as the others, and they tend to be more colorful (they also have a reputation for being less hardy however).

This site might be helpful.
 

Rue

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
239
Just to let you know that in Canada, it is rather hard to find Aphonopelma species, due to the US banning exportation. Tarantula Canada usually do have some listed on their availability list, but only so often.

And welcome to a rather addicting hobby. Tarantulas are like potato chips, you take out one, but eventually you have the entire bag in your bowl, lol.
Thanks...all these bans! For basically a safe pet...go figure.

I can't become addicted! I already have a herd of horses and a flock of chickens and parrots...;)

---------- Post added at 04:40 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:37 PM ----------

curiousme: I enjoyed the novel...very helpful! Thank you!

Individual Aphonopelma might have synonyms, but I'm not aware of any for the genus as a whole. Honestly, any of those three genre would work for a beginner--I'd reccomend the Avicularia, primarily because they don't kick hairs as much as the others, and they tend to be more colorful (they also have a reputation for being less hardy however).

This site might be helpful.
It's good to know that the Avicularia are less kicky...I was wondering if the hairs are going to be an issue. I wasn't planning on handling the spider outside of cage cleaning, but still it's good to know!
 

jebbewocky

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Messages
910
Oh! That reminds me. While they are less likely to kick hairs or bite-- they are known to spray poo at you when startled. :barf:
 

Rue

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
239
LOL...good to know. Is it grosser than a horse snotting green stuff all over you (just for fun)? {D

...I won't mention what the parrots do to me if I'm not careful...
 

jebbewocky

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Messages
910
LOL...good to know. Is it grosser than a horse snotting green stuff all over you (just for fun)? {D

...I won't mention what the parrots do to me if I'm not careful...
Nowehere near as gross as either of those!
It's just white powder/paste.
And that's part of the reaosn I don't have birds, lol.
 

justingordon

Arachnosquire
Joined
Aug 17, 2010
Messages
67
u should get an cobalt blue those are the nicest taranchulas myne i handle it everyday hes so nice
 
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