New to the hobby. Lots of questions...

MarkS

Arachnopeon
Joined
May 13, 2007
Messages
26
I've always wanted a Tarantula, but have always been scared of spiders. I finally got the nerve to look into the hobby and I like what I've seen. It looks to be a fun and interesting hobby.

I've pretty much decided on an A. versicolor. I like the coloration and the fact that they are a bit more docile than others. Seeing as how they are arboreal and need a tall cage, I'm fortunate to have a custom made aquarium that should work out nicely. It's a 35 gallon, 24" tall x 17" wide x 20" deep. I'll have to modify it some as its drilled for drains and needs a screen top:


I was removing the top brace in this pic, so it looks kind of distorted:


I've read as much info as I could find, but so much of it is spread out that I felt it best to ask some questions...

The first issue is with temps. I live in South Texas and I do not run my A/C when I am not home. This means room temp could easily exceed 100°F in the summer. I also do not run heaters in the winter unless it gets bitterly cold, so the temp could easily drop below freezing (I LOVE cold). When I do have the A/C on, I let it run until the temp is hovering around 68°F to 70°F. This is obviously too cold and these temps are too wide. What would be recommended to keep the enclosure temps stable? I'm fairly good with electronics and could probably build a thermostat to control fans/heat lamps, but I suspect that such a thing has already been made. Any ideas?

I do not want fake/dead plants in the enclosure. I do not like the look and I refuse to buy them. I've decided on a 50/50 substrate of peat moss and potting soil. What would be a good, live plant to add? I am aware of the issue of mold, but there will be plenty of ventilation and I can find hundreds of isopods under almost any rock.

Can someone point me to a thread or site that lists care instructions for raising and keeping crickets? I know that I can buy them online and locally, but I'd like a consistent supply on hand. With the schedule I have, it may be difficult or impossible to run to the local pet store (which is about 10 miles from my house) and with the temps here, there is no guarantee that any ordered online will arrive alive.

I'm open for any thoughts, input and/or suggestions. Please throw tons of links and info my way. I take every hobby I have very seriously and do tons of research, especially when it involves livestock. I don't jump into anything half cocked and I have no problem spending the next few months getting the enclosure ready and doing research before I buy my first T. I have read the beginner links stickied at the top of the forum, but please provide any other useful information.
 
Last edited:

speedreader

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
May 14, 2005
Messages
330
Heya,

good temp range is 75-85 or so. below 60 or above 90 is a no-no for most species, I believe. There are heaters being sold out there but I have never seen a cooler for terrariums. I live in Ca and only use heater on winter nights.

I am not sure about live plants - try search function :D. Oh yeah, and many spiders would "rearrange" said plants.

There are several cricket threads, but honestly it's waaaay too much trouble for 1 spider. Crickets live for 2-3 weeks if store-bought and you only need to feed an adult T once in 1-2 weeks. You will have 100s of extra crickets if you breed them.

Also, you should know that all arboreal spiders are pretty fast. So if tries to escape it may fall and injure itself without you even noticing.

You will need many many holes in that enclosure for ventilation.
 

ShadowBlade

Planeswalker
Old Timer
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Messages
2,596
First off, welcome to the hobby. You're doing yourself a HUGE favor using scientific names!:clap:

Avicularia spp seem to thrive in higher humidity then normal, so be sure to mist, and have a water dish. But also important, if not more so, is ventilation. Make sure plenty of air can move through, many people lose Avics, and get all upset. I suspect most are caused by poor ventilation mixed with stiffling humidity.

As for temps, try not to let it get higher then say, 85. It seems Avics are indeed rather 'fragile' when it comes to keeping conditions. 70-75+ is a good average for almost all species.

-Sean
 

Brian S

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
May 29, 2004
Messages
6,543
Chances are you will get a small spiderling so the tank you have will be too large for awhile. When the spider is adult, your set up will work great
 

P. Novak

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Sep 12, 2005
Messages
6,234
I've always wanted a Tarantula, but have always been scared of spiders. I finally got the nerve to look into the hobby and I like what I've seen. It looks to be a fun and interesting hobby.

I've read as much info as I could find, but so much of it is spread out that I felt it best to ask some questions...

The first issue is with temps. I live in South Texas and I do not run my A/C when I am not home. This means room temp could easily exceed 100°F in the summer. I also do not run heaters in the winter unless it gets bitterly cold, so the temp could easily drop below freezing (I LOVE cold). When I do have the A/C on, I let it run until the temp is hovering around 68°F to 70°F. This is obviously too cold and these temps are too wide. What would be recommended to keep the enclosure temps stable? I'm fairly good with electronics and could probably build a thermostat to control fans/heat lamps, but I suspect that such a thing has already been made. Any ideas?

I do not want fake/dead plants in the enclosure. I do not like the look and I refuse to buy them. I've decided on a 50/50 substrate of peat moss and potting soil. What would be a good, live plant to add? I am aware of the issue of mold, but there will be plenty of ventilation and I can find hundreds of isopods under almost any rock.

Can someone point me to a thread or site that lists care instructions for raising and keeping crickets? I know that I can buy them online and locally, but I'd like a consistent supply on hand. With the schedule I have, it may be difficult or impossible to run to the local pet store (which is about 10 miles from my house) and with the temps here, there is no guarantee that any ordered online will arrive alive.

I'm open for any thoughts, input and/or suggestions. Please throw tons of links and info my way. I take every hobby I have very seriously and do tons of research, especially when it involves livestock. I don't jump into anything half cocked and I have no problem spending the next few months getting the enclosure ready and doing research before I buy my first T. I have read the beginner links stickied at the top of the forum, but please provide any other useful information.
First off welcome to the hobby and great choice for a first T, I still don't have an Avicularia versicolor.

You can use heat mats to keep it warm during the winter and such. When it gets hot here, like near 90 and sometimes 100F I just open my window and it cools it down a bit. I'm sure it's much hotter in Texas, so the only thing I would be able to say is run the AC to where it reaches 75F. I'm sure Texas native members will come by and give you some tips.

Any plant that only needs moderate sunlight would do fine, Just make sure you provide about an inch of gravel underneath all the soil as a drain for the plants' roots.

There is an article on breeding crickets on this board, I'll find you the link in a second.

Avicularia versicolor is a T that has been known to die under non-precise conditions. They need relatively high humidty around 75-80%, this can be maintaned by providing a waterdish and misting every so often. There are more "high tech" ways like timer operated misters.
While they need high humidity, the also need the best of ventilation, which gets difficult since mass ventilation usually means low humidity.
 

kyrga

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
321
Avics are great! I've had two and I love em!

Anyway, I'm not sure about high temps, but at least half the year, my house is about 68-70 F, and my Ts do fine. It usually doesn't go above 90 here, and when it does, the AC goes on, but mine also seem to be OK in 90 degree weather.

As for crickets, you definately don't need to breed. I have a petstore near my house, but "the good petsore" is almost 15 miles away, which is where I usually buy my crickets. When I had my adult avic (I kinda just assumed you were buying an adult, though things might be a little different if you decided to get a spiderling) any way, when I had my adult, I'd buy a dozen a month (around here, a dozen costs less than $1) and keep them in a small kritter keeper. I always had way more than enough. Just make sure you feed the crickets, I don't know what other people use, I just throw in some lettace and some oatmeal every few days. And the good thing about Ts, it's nearly impossible to starve them to death, so if you can't get to the store for a week, you still shouldn't have any problems.

Also, avics like some humidity. Humidity is generally more important to Ts than temperature. I'm guessing texas is pretty dry, so you should mist the tank once or twice a week, leaving droplets of water on one side of the tank, as most avics like to drink their water this way.
 

MarkS

Arachnopeon
Joined
May 13, 2007
Messages
26
I might be able to rig up something with a Peltier and a fan. It would cool in the summer, heat in the winter and provide air circulation throughout. Humidity *could* be a problem, but San Antonio has high humidity year round. I may do the automated mister thing. I clearly have more research to do.

Thanks for the food tips. Its a real shame I can't just go outside and dig up some food. There are roaches, crickets and mealworms galore here, but I cannot be sure they have not been exposed to pesticides. :(
 

MarkS

Arachnopeon
Joined
May 13, 2007
Messages
26
Chances are you will get a small spiderling so the tank you have will be too large for awhile. When the spider is adult, your set up will work great
Good point. I figure its best to let it grow into an enclosure instead of moving it around every few months. It will never get too big, that's for sure.
 

speedreader

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
May 14, 2005
Messages
330
but if the spider is like 1-2", it will never find food in enclosure this big; hence, the existence of different tank sizes, etc.
 

IdahoBiteyThing

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 2, 2007
Messages
599
food supply

Rather than breeding crix, why not just get some roaches? Even if you don't breed them, a bunch of nymphs will last you forever, for a lot less work than crix, and they don't stink! There's tons of threads on roaches here and on the web, check them out. Their housing/feeding is simple (opaque rubbermaid-type storage bin, some cork tiles, hydration crystals, dog food, veggie scraps). I keep B. dubia and love them. They grow very slowly, which is nice for a small collection, and one order lasts me for months. I have allowed a few to mature to adulthood and am getting a little production, but not enough to overwhelm me (yet . . .)
Not sure on the temp fluctuations in your house though; might have to pick one room to stay within a reasonable (65-85) temp span. Not too many T's will like 32-110! There are some climate controlled environments that might help, but I haven't seen many that can heat AND cool, and the ones I have seen that can are huge and have their own condenser/coils/fans etc. and would be a little impractical for one T. Looks like you'll have to buy a lot more than 1!
 

MarkS

Arachnopeon
Joined
May 13, 2007
Messages
26
but if the spider is like 1-2", it will never find food in enclosure this big; hence, the existence of different tank sizes, etc.
Good point. Hadn't thought of that. :? :wall:

Rather than breeding crix, why not just get some roaches? Even if you don't breed them, a bunch of nymphs will last you forever, for a lot less work than crix, and they don't stink! There's tons of threads on roaches here and on the web, check them out. Their housing/feeding is simple (opaque rubbermaid-type storage bin, some cork tiles, hydration crystals, dog food, veggie scraps). I keep B. dubia and love them. They grow very slowly, which is nice for a small collection, and one order lasts me for months. I have allowed a few to mature to adulthood and am getting a little production, but not enough to overwhelm me (yet . . .)
Not sure on the temp fluctuations in your house though; might have to pick one room to stay within a reasonable (65-85) temp span. Not too many T's will like 32-110! There are some climate controlled environments that might help, but I haven't seen many that can heat AND cool, and the ones I have seen that can are huge and have their own condenser/coils/fans etc. and would be a little impractical for one T. Looks like you'll have to buy a lot more than 1!
That might not be a bad idea. I have roaches in every corner of the house and yard. Just can't kill 'em. Might as well use them.

For the cooler, what I'm talking about is a Thermoelectric cooler(T.E.C.), more commonly known as a Peltier chip. It made of two metal plates with a conductive ceramic in between. You apply positive current to one side and negative current to the other. One side get very cold (< -50°C) and the other side get very hot. Couple this to a heat sink and fan in a creative fashion and you can just about heat and cool anything.
 

Drachenjager

Arachnoemperor
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Jan 23, 2006
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you could make a mister real easy and if you played your cards right not only would it mist the enclosure it would circulate air for ventilation. i think you also may cool it by misting as the water evaporates . sort of like the misting they do around outdoor dining areas at restaraunts. if you do use a mister, i reccoment putting a piece of silver in the water tank tho to keep the bacteria and molds from growing
 

Drachenjager

Arachnoemperor
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Good point. Hadn't thought of that. :? :wall:



That might not be a bad idea. I have roaches in every corner of the house and yard. Just can't kill 'em. Might as well use them.

For the cooler, what I'm talking about is a Thermoelectric cooler(T.E.C.), more commonly known as a Peltier chip. It made of two metal plates with a conductive ceramic in between. You apply positive current to one side and negative current to the other. One side get very cold (< -50°C) and the other side get very hot. Couple this to a heat sink and fan in a creative fashion and you can just about heat and cool anything.
nono dont feed WC roaches ....bad bad ...may as well step on your spider if you do that
 

IdahoBiteyThing

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
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Mar 2, 2007
Messages
599
roaches

Oops, should have been more clear. I was suggesting using domestic raised roaches such as Blaptica dubia or something similar; not wild caught roaches. Wild bugs are risky due to exposure to pesticides, internal parasites etc.
ps. the Peltier sounds cool- no pun intended, sounds like you might be able to make a great controlled environment for your T's. Post a thread on it if you make something that might help the rest of us!
 

ShadowBlade

Planeswalker
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I was going to feed the babies. You're right though...
Roaches are like walking cans of pesticides. Very adaptive and develop resistence to many chemicals. Even babies could be a danger to your pet. (Sometimes even the pesticides are passed on through to the offspring in developing resistence).

-Sean
 

Alice

Arachnoangel
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Sep 29, 2006
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i second that: get a bunch of blaptica dubia roaches or buy a few crickets a months. a single t will eat only little - the females i don't breed only get food twice a months, and never more than 2-3 crickets at a time. still some of them are retty plump. if you really cannot make it to the store, a month or two without food are fine. a fat t is more likely to fall and injure herself than a lean one ;).

as for the container: it's ok for an adult, though still large. for a sling, it is certain death. all my avicularia slings tend to be secretive and don't venture far from their hides. they can starve if not raised in an appropriately sized container. and yes, many slings also starve in the wild (before someone claims that nature is the biggest tank ever). that's why tarantulas produce loads of offspring - not many make it to adulthood.

i wouldn't worry about relative humidity. i have raised dozens of avicularias on bone dry substrate. for tarantulas, it is important to have internal hydration to be able to molt. thus, make sure your feeders are always well hydrated, give the t a water dish and mist the enclosure about 2 times a week. avics prefer to drink droplets from the walls of their enclosures. and as long as the temps are medium (not too high and not too low as many here have already said), they do fine in relatively dry conditions as long as they can drink often. a well ventilated cage will dry out within 24 hours after a misting, thus avoiding mould in the t's booklungs.

as for species: avicularia are great - stunning and not very bitey. on the other hand, all arboreals are rather fast when compared to many terrestrials. i find new world terrestial species like brachypelma or grammostola easier to start out with. but as long as you are prepared for a sudden bolt, you should be fine with your versicolor as well.

btw: philodendron are great terrarium plants. they thrive with little light (tarantulas hate bright lights) and no fertilizer at all. plus, the leaves get big and are not easily damaged. they even survive a certain amount of being webbed in. a versicolor is not likely to dig plants out, terrestrials are more problematic in this respect. you can leave it in the pot it comes in, so the substrate does not get swamped every time you water th plant. and make sure the plan is not reated with pesticides before putting it in the tank: a thorough wash of all leaves, new potting soil and to be sure a two weeks' wait usually do the trick.

welcome to the hobby and have fun wih your new addiction! {D
 

Taceas

Arachnolord
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May 12, 2006
Messages
659
Welcome to the hobby! My first tarantula was an A. versicolor as well. =)

With some research in advance, like you're doing now, things should go well. I've had all of my Avic slings for over a year now and they're still doing well. I think most of us with juvenile Avics house them in acrylic display cubes, like those you find at most craft stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Just drill a bunch of holes in the top 1/3 of the cube and keep it misted every 2-4 days, and they should do just fine.

As has been said, that enclosure you've got now would be overkill for a baby Avic. They're arboreal, so unless you place the roach right in the web, it'd probably starve to death.

Fake plants aren't that bad, lol. The moisture and light required to keep a real plant alive could be the problematic thing, not to mention whatever doesn't get eaten will eat the plants as well, crickets especially. Plus if you want to remodel the cage, it's not a whole big fiasco, you just go to the craft store and get new greenery and voila.

I'd say your largest hurdle is going to be keeping a temperature than an Avic would be comfortable with. My house is cool most of the year, low thermostat setting on the furnace in winter, and AC in the summer...I simply cannot tolerate a hot and stuffy house. If you have a room that has no windows and you can keep the door closed when you're gone to keep the temps cooler for longer, that'd probably work. I have no clue what a Peltier chip is, so I'm at a loss on that. I'd just get a max-min digital thermometer and set it in different rooms for a day to see the temps fluctuating to find the "best" room.

As for food, breeding crickets for one tarantula would be pointless. Heck I'd even go so far as to say that breeding and feeding crickets at all is pointless. They have many negatives as feeders: noisy, smelly, die easily, feed on molting tarantulas, and if you buy them from dirty pet stores or bait shops, they can be great hosts for parasites.

If you're only feeding one tarantula, a weekly trip to a pet store for 3-5 crickets would suffice. Provided you have a local pet store that has crickets. Where I'm located its a 30 mile drive to get crickets.

I can truly say Blaptica dubia is about the worst feeder for Avics I've found. The nymphs never really are small enough for smaller Avic slings. They are a ground hugging species of roach and mine readily burrow the moment they're dropped in, so they're not going to get noticed.

I would opt for a more leggy and more apt to climb species, such as lobster roaches or Blatta lateralis roaches, both of which mine readily ate. There are literally tons of posts on roach care and husbandry in the Insect section that are well worth a read through.

Hope that helps a little bit.
 

Brian S

ArachnoGod
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Good point. I figure its best to let it grow into an enclosure instead of moving it around every few months.
It wont bother them to be moved every few months. I have done that with countless numbers of small spiderlings.
 
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