where to get real life experience with T's

Itsmykowai

Arachnopeon
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Oct 28, 2016
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I have loved tarantulas for many years, and have done extensive research on proper care for most T's, particularily ones that have interested me most. I am currently living with my parents, who refuse to allow a T in the house, but soon my living situation will be changing, allowing me to bring in my first tarantula.

I have already decided I am going to be buying a Brachypelma Smithi, however I worry about where to get the experience when it comes to being around the tarantula. The closest i have been is looking through glass at pet stores, and i fear that if i order one and have it shipped to me, unboxing it may be difficult. As much as these creatures facinate me, i just can't help but stress about the thought of making a commitment to a creature, only to bring it in my home and fear interacting with it. I don't ever plan to handle, but I know that with this hobby, you have to be okay with the thought of it crawling on your arm if it tries to escape and not freak out if it gets spooked and moves quickly.

So how do you suggest I gain some real life, hands on experience before bringing a tarantula home with me? Or do you even really need any before starting this hobby?
 

sdsnybny

Arachnogeek
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Apr 29, 2015
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YouTube has a lot of "unboxing videos" you can watch to help out. I see you are in WA, there are 2-4 reptile expo's a year in western WA those might be a good alternative to having it shipped to you. You just missed the one at the Puyallup fairgrounds (Oct 15-16) next one will be in the early spring. (May) Also 2-3 in the Portland area, one in Spokane. You can google "reptile expo in Washington" to find dates as well as watch the Bean Farm web page they post events/dates.
http://www.nwreptileexpos.com/seattle-metro-reptile-expo/
http://www.beanfarm.com/
 

Redneck

Arachnoprince
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The main way to get experience...is by getting into the hobby and keeping them.
 

DeanK

Arachnosquire
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Jun 16, 2016
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81
The only way to gain real life experience is to jump in, as long as you work slowly and carefully unboxing should be a fairly easy process
 

Moonohol

Two Legged Freak
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Aug 8, 2016
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115
Watch some unboxing and rehousing videos on YouTube to see the different ways people manipulate their Ts to do what they want them to do. That's the best you'll be able to do until you start keeping them and really getting your hands dirty. It's really not that bad, I promise. As long as you respect the tarantula, you'll be golden.
 

Lessej

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 26, 2016
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44
I have loved tarantulas for many years, and have done extensive research on proper care fir most T's ... hands on experience ... do you even really need any before starting this hobby?
I just woke up one day and realized that I've always been fascinated by spiders. Then I thought I should started reading up on them and research them to see if I'd like to keep them. I read a lot of articles, threads, and papers. I also watched a lot of videos. I saw some adults at the pet stores, saw a few juveniles at a small local reptile expo, and ended up narrowing my search down to one species in particular that I thought I could handle to start. Scooped up a little easy going sling and off I was.

In short, if you, like me, have done your research on even basic husbandry, IMO, I'd say no you don't need any actual hands on experience before starting the hobby. :)
 

N1ghtFire

Arachnoknight
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Jun 17, 2016
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173
A lot of people use this hobby and own tarantulas in order to get rid of or cope with their fear of spiders. I think just about everyone is nervous their first few times interacting with a tarantula, I was really jumpy with my versicolors when I first got them, especially because they are pretty fast and one of the first times feeding them one ran out of the container, onto my hand, onto the counter, and almost escaped behind my dresser. Spooked me a little bit since they were my first Ts and I didn't know how to react. If you have any interest in Ts, then you should get over that pretty quickly and really enjoy working with them. You'll learn what works best for you when taking care of them and develop a sort of routine. If you know their basic needs and ask for help here when you need it, you'll be fine. There is a lot of learning as you go, just like with any other pet.
 

AphonopelmaTX

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May 7, 2004
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1,573
I have already decided I am going to be buying a Brachypelma Smithi, however I worry about where to get the experience when it comes to being around the tarantula. As much as these creatures facinate me, i just can't help but stress about the thought of making a commitment to a creature, only to bring it in my home and fear interacting with it.

So how do you suggest I gain some real life, hands on experience before bringing a tarantula home with me? Or do you even really need any before starting this hobby?
You do bring up some valid concerns when it comes to interacting with tarantulas for the first time. I will have to contradict those who say YouTube videos will prepare you for unboxing a shipped tarantula. It will not. Videos of others will show you what to expect from a tarantula being unboxed, but shipping has different effects on tarantulas. For example, my second tarantula ever was a Haplopelma lividum. All the reading I did prepared me to deal with an extremely fast and aggressive tarantula, but when I unpacked it from it's shipping container the thing calmly walked out into it's permanent housing. Months later when I went to rehouse it, it showed it's true colors and was difficult to manage. In contrast I have received many species which were considered docile or beginner species (including Brachypelma species) which bolted out of their shipping containers and ran laps in their containers surprising me in the process. Until you receive several tarantulas and unpack them yourself, you really won't get a feel for how to properly prepare for it. Text and video can only do so much, but no one knows your own disposition and how you react to unpredictable animals but you. Are you generally a nervous individual? Do you have steady hands? Do you jump a bit when something moves suddenly and quickly?

The best advice I can give you in how to prepare for a tarantula is to buy one from the local pet store when you are ready and ask the employee who boxes it up for you if you can try it yourself. Even ask if you can box it up and put it back into the pet store's enclosure a couple of times yourself before bringing it home. That way you find out how you as an individual will be able to work with one. If it doesn't work out, then you don't have to buy it. It's the only way I can think of to satisfy your concerns without jumping into unboxing a shipped tarantula and not knowing what to expect. Once you get enough hands on experience with how one tarantula reacts by being put into and removed from a small container, you will have the confidence to unpack a shipped one.

It's unfortunate at times that experienced tarantula keepers are spread out all over the place and there isn't an easy way to access someone who can work with you in person to guide and coach a new keeper through some of these things. I hate suggesting you work with a pet store, but if it's the only option you have to see and work with a live tarantula before making the commitment to keep one yourself, then it will have to do.
 

bryverine

Arachnoangel
Joined
Apr 18, 2012
Messages
894
I have already decided I am going to be buying a Brachypelma Smithi, however I worry about where to get the experience when it comes to being around the tarantula. The closest i have been is looking through glass at pet stores, and i fear that if i order one and have it shipped to me, unboxing it may be difficult. As much as these creatures facinate me, i just can't help but stress about the thought of making a commitment to a creature, only to bring it in my home and fear interacting with it. I don't ever plan to handle, but I know that with this hobby, you have to be okay with the thought of it crawling on your arm if it tries to escape and not freak out if it gets spooked and moves quickly.
Truth is attitude really varies specimen to specimen. Most of the unboxing I've done have been super easy and smooth even with faster more excitable species. Go slow and use some long tongs. :)

B. smithi is (IMO) one of the best first tarantulas because one, it was my first tarantula and two, they are very forgiving in their care. I got mine sexed at around 2.5" and my girl was pretty easy going (except for the hair flinging).

If you are concerned with contact, I'd suggest getting a slightly smaller (~2") one to start. While this is still pretty big compared to a house spider, it's far less intimidating that dealing with a 5-6" full grown tarantula.

So how do you suggest I gain some real life, hands on experience before bringing a tarantula home with me? Or do you even really need any before starting this hobby?
You can read about riding a bike all you want. Some things you just have to do and start slow. Think of the smithi like training wheels. ;)
 

AphonopelmaTX

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Sorry for the double post, but I wanted to take a few minutes to describe my first experience receiving black widow spiders (Lactrodectus hesperus) in the mail and how learning theory from YouTube and reading material doesn't prepare one for the practice of unpacking. Hopefully the connection can be made to a first time tarantula owner.

Several years ago I was given a Southern Black Widow (Lactrodectus mactans) by a local family who wanted to get rid of this spider from their house but didn't want to kill it. I drove to this family's house to collect the spider which took up residence in a little ceramic turtle and didn't move from it. I took it home and housed it and found that the real life behavior of a Black Widow matched what I read. They are incredibly docile and shy away from confrontation. The poor little thing didn't ever want to leave its ceramic turtle. Every time I went to feed it it bolted back into the turtle and didn't come out until I left it alone. I took care of it for a long time until reached the end of it's lifecycle and died.

That experience gave me the confidence to order its sister species the Western Black Widow (Lactrodectus hesperus). When the Western Black Widows came in the mail I was taken aback by how they were packed for shipment. Having more experience with receiving tarantulas in the mail I was expecting the Widow spiders to be packed in plastic vials with paper towel padding. They were actually packed in small condiment cups which they build their cobwebs in with no padding whatsoever. All the theory I learned from videos and articles seemed to have gone right out of my head as I was in the real world experience of doing it myself. I had to call in a friend of mine with more hands on experience with Widow spiders to show me in person how to unpack them. After he showed me how he did it, it was so simple and painless that I felt silly that I was stressing about it. There was no video or article that told me using a metal spoon to break the Widow's web and chase it out onto a smooth surface was the best way to work with Widow spiders. I ended up giving the Western Black Widows I ordered to him because they all started dropping eggsacs and I didn't want to deal with that.

With my new found knowledge though, I practiced on the cobweb weavers (same family as the black widows) in my house using the spoon technique of breaking webs and chasing spiders into small containers then releasing. Now I'm very comfortable around Black Widows and as soon as someone posts an ad selling some for reasonable prices, I'm jumping on it.

The point of this story though is to drive home the point that receiving shipped spiders is that it is something a brand new keeper should do after some experience. If I would have gotten more hands on experience with wild or captive Widow spiders then I wouldn't have had to call someone in to help me unpack them from their shipping containers. What I should have done back then with my Southern Black Widow was practice taking it in and out of its permanent home before ordering the Western Black Widows.

The tricky thing about unpacking shipped spiders, including tarantulas, is that you are faced with something new every time. It's important to work with live spiders as much as possible first before jumping into the challenge of unpacking. Tarantulas in particular because one goes at unpacking blind. The packed spider is covered with paper towel on all sides and you can't see which end is the "business" end or tell which way it will run until you start removing that paper towel. It's a situation that can be different every time.
 

Haemus

Arachnosquire
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
128
+1 to what @sdsnybny said. Expos is a great way to get first hand experience as well as being introduced to a wide variety of species. For myself, simply seeing how they moved and reacted instilled more confidence to get into the hobby.
 

Tfisher

Arachno-Geek
Joined
Sep 28, 2014
Messages
251
Some very interesting information in this thread.

If you going for B. Smithi the. You'll prob want to watch out for the hairs, more than likely won't have to worry about it flying up your arm. I think B. Smithi is a perfect starter T for ya, but your right to heed caution. Plenty of people in my town condone handling T's and would gladly show you there is nothing to fear as they swing their rose hair 4 foot above the ground. But would think twice when mine would rip a paintbrush right out of my hand....


The point is we cannot predict how these creatures may act. So what I personally think may help you through this situation is to maybe find a true spider outside and keep it for a little while.. This will ready you for a normal reaction to disturbances when cleaning or feeding.

And one piece of information I'd like to leave you with is (if you do get B. Smithi shipped to you) that you should not feel rushed. Do things at your own pace. And if you are not able to get the T to leave it's plastic vial just leave the whole vial in the enclosure and wait for it to come out on its own. Experience comes with time and you'll feel comfortable when you have more of it.

Good luck to you :)
 

hennibbale

Arachnosquire
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
80
Well, I had thought about getting a tarantula, have done research about it and made a list of species I could get.
That was: B. Smithi, B. Albopilosum, G. Pulchripes.
So after preparing the enclosure I go on the internet and look up for sub-adult or adult specimens. Brachys were a no go as I'd require CITES, couldn't find a G. Pulchripes so I just bought an A. Geniculata.
Never regretted that choice.
When I unboxed it I was a little nervous but well... I just did it.
The first unboxing is... magical. :D

So I just recommend getting one.
 

Chris LXXIX

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Dec 25, 2014
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Brachys were a no go as I'd require CITES
Sometimes I ask to myself if only Italy (a pretty disgraced nation, btw... and where owning arachnids still is a grey area) for real respect the CITES part, providing to CITES arachnids customers a 100% valid, signed by authorities, CITES document.

Here's one of mines:

thumbnail_DSC_0454.jpg

cites.jpg
 

TownesVanZandt

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May 12, 2015
Messages
1,044
Sometimes I ask to myself if only Italy (a pretty disgraced nation, btw... and where owning arachnids still is a grey area) for real respect the CITES part, providing to CITES arachnids customers a 100% valid, signed by authorities, CITES document.

Here's one of mines:

View attachment 223703

View attachment 223702
Hmm, here it costs money and you need to deal with Norwegian bureaucracy at its worst to get CITES papers. But you don´t need it to keep CITES-protected species, only to export them. What most people do instead of getting the papers, is just to write the name of a non-CITES species on the parcel instead.
 

Chris LXXIX

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Hmm, here it costs money and you need to deal with Norwegian bureaucracy at its worst to get CITES papers. But you don´t need it to keep CITES-protected species, only to export them. What most people do instead of getting the papers, is just to write the name of a non-CITES species on the parcel instead.
Ah ah, I don't have a clue, my friend, about Norway bureaucracy but trust me, the Italian one is worldwide famous, a sort of "girone Dantesco" trial/punishment. I will take anytime yours in exchange :)

Here the CITES document is free for customers... a no way buying without, otherwise, without "if" "but" or "... but I was in good faith" etc someone in the unhappy case of inspection will be considered a protected animals smuggler :eek: <-- Eek!
 

Marijan2

Arachnobaron
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Oct 21, 2012
Messages
505
Sometimes I ask to myself if only Italy (a pretty disgraced nation, btw... and where owning arachnids still is a grey area) for real respect the CITES part, providing to CITES arachnids customers a 100% valid, signed by authorities, CITES document.
It's not only Italy, Croatia is quite picky about needing papers for just keeping them too. If you own brachy and no papers for it, you better not post picture online or inspection can come to you and take away your T's
 

TownesVanZandt

Arachnoprince
Joined
May 12, 2015
Messages
1,044
It's not only Italy, Croatia is quite picky about needing papers for just keeping them too. If you own brachy and no papers for it, you better not post picture online or inspection can come to you and take away your T's
Maybe it´s a EU thing? Or did you have such strict laws prior to July 2013, also?
 

Chris LXXIX

ArachnoGod
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Dec 25, 2014
Messages
5,828
It's not only Italy, Croatia is quite picky about needing papers for just keeping them too. If you own brachy and no papers for it, you better not post picture online or inspection can come to you and take away your T's
Happy to hear that, man. My opinion is... that's a right thing, at the end of the day. Authorities when it comes to CITES protected animals needs to be involved with breeders/sellers; here in Italy as far as I know they are very helpful and understanding.

CITES papers are, for customers, free obviously, and then "you" are 100% sure to owning true CB specimens.
 
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