Tarantulas feed on insects and — at least in the US — are usually fed on crickets and a variety of worms. However, you may want to broaden your tarantula’s diet or give them a nutritious meal after molting and have probably wondered whether your tarantula can also eat grasshoppers.
The answer to the question whether tarantulas can eat grasshoppers is an easy one — yes, they can eat grasshoppers. However, there are some important things that you should keep in mind when feeding your tarantula grasshoppers, for example, the species to feed and which precautions you should take before feeding them to your tarantula.
We’ll look at all of these aspects next.
When To Feed Your Tarantula Grasshoppers And How Many To Feed Them
Grasshoppers are very high in protein — even more so than crickets — which means that they make a very nutritious meal for your tarantula.
However, due to their adult size, you shouldn’t have to feed your tarantula more than one grasshopper at a time. If the grasshoppers are still small juveniles, you can feed your tarantula two to three; just as you would crickets.
Grasshoppers make a great meal after your tarantula has molted because it helps to replace the condition that they may have lost while fasting before molting.
This is especially true for those tarantulas who prefer to fast for a month or more before molting. See it as a post-molting celebratory snack!
Things To Avoid When Feeding Your Tarantula Grasshoppers
Just because your tarantula can eat grasshoppers doesn’t mean that you can feed them just any species or even catch some in the garden to keep for a snack later.
Here are the precautions that you should take when feeding your tarantula grasshoppers:
Never feed your tarantula grasshoppers that have been caught in the wild
There are many reasons why you should never feed your tarantula a grasshopper that you’ve caught in the garden or otherwise in the wild. The most important of these reasons are that they may be contaminated with pesticides, herbicides or other types of poison.
If your tarantula eats a grasshopper that has been contaminated with, for example, pesticides you may end up inadvertently poisoning and even killing your tarantula.
Even if you only use earth-friendly products in your garden, the grasshopper may be contaminated elsewhere and then only get caught in your garden.
Even grasshoppers out in a field could be contaminated with different types of environmental poisons. Because this is such a big risk to take, we would suggest you steer clear of any wild-caught grasshoppers and rely on those bred in captivity specifically for pet food.
Wild grasshoppers may also carry diseases that can make your tarantula ill if they ingest the sick grasshopper.
Always buy your grasshoppers from a trusted breeder or pet shop.
Because of the risk of pesticides and poisoning mentioned above, make sure that you only buy your grasshoppers from trusted sources.
Of course, you can also buy some from your local breeder or pet shop and then start to breed them yourself, but we’ll go into this later in the article.
Most importantly, make sure that the shop or place you get your grasshoppers from do not, in turn, go out into the wild and catch them there; otherwise, you’re back to square one with the pesticide problem.
Therefore, do your homework and ask around. You will often find that many pet owners of tarantulas and reptiles have a favorite place to go to for their feeder insects.
Always keep your tarantula’s prey smaller than they are
While you may think a super-sized meal after fasting to be a good idea (hint: it actually isn’t), you also don’t want your tarantula to be fighting life and limb to subdue a grasshopper that is as big as they are.
Keep in mind that grasshoppers have some vicious mandibles and strong legs to fight back with. This is why many prefer to feed their tarantulas the grasshopper juveniles instead of the adults. This also brings us to whether to feed your tarantula live grasshoppers or not.
Feed your tarantula live grasshoppers, not the dried (or dried and flavored!) kind.
You should always feed your tarantulas live prey. However, if you are worried that the grasshopper is a bit to feisty or large, it’s best to — like with crickets — crush the head before feeding it to your tarantula.
Just make sure that you give it to your tarantula freshly killed and don’t keep some dead grasshoppers in the freezer, for example.
This is also a good practice to follow not only for large grasshoppers but also in case your tarantula is one of the smaller species or it is their first meal after molting. Rather err on the side of caution than have the grasshopper injure your eight-legged friend!
Also, remember to feed the grasshoppers before feeding them to your tarantula.
Never, ever feed (or try to feed) your tarantula dead and dried grasshoppers, however. You could just as well be feeding them beef jerky — and the dried grasshoppers would be as unappetizing to them as the piece of beef jerky would be in any case.
Don’t feed your tarantula a rare species of grasshopper (by accident).
Yet another reason not to catch your own grasshoppers to feed your tarantula is that you won’t necessarily know when that yummy morsel you’re feeding them is actually an endangered or even rare species.
If you see the price is exorbitant, you’ve probably ventures into the “pet grasshoppers” part of the pet shop and not the “feeder insects” part of the pet shop!
Now that you know how and which grasshoppers to feed your tarantula, it’s worth having a look as well as to how you’ll be taking care of the grasshoppers to keep them healthy for later.
How To Keep And Care For Your Tarantula’s Grasshoppers
Caring for the grasshoppers you intend to feed to your tarantula is of the utmost importance — after all, healthy grasshoppers means a healthy meal!
Here’s the lowdown of how to keep your grasshoppers in tip-top condition.
Housing, Temperature, And Humidity
You can either use a small tank or a plastic container (don’t forget the ventilation) to keep the grasshoppers in. You can add some substrate in the form of sand if you like, as well as some small branches for them to sit on.
The temperature for most grasshoppers tends to be quite high at about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this can be achieved by using a lamp. Just be sure not to put the tank or, even worse, the plastic container in direct sunlight.
Direct sunlight will cause the temperature inside the tank to rise significantly and could even kill the grasshoppers.
Humidity should also not be too high and it should be quite alright to just mist the food (see below for the food to feed the grasshoppers) before you place it inside the tank or container.
If you’re planning to breed the grasshoppers, it is even a better reason to make their home comfortable, as they won’t just be housed for a few days before being fed to your tarantula.
Food And Feeding
Feeding your grasshoppers is very easy as they only need plant material. Grass cuttings are a good option, as is reeds, reed grass, and canary grass. Fresh wheat leaves, if you can get them, are also a top choice.
One way of ensuring that the grasshoppers do not eat plant material contaminated by pesticides is to plant your own patch of grass that you can use to feed them.
Once the grass cuttings or other food is wilting and drying, remove what is left and replace it with fresh food.
As you can see, giving your tarantula grasshoppers to eat is a good thing, as long as you stick to certain criteria and don’t overfeed them.