The quickest way to go from owning two tarantulas to having one big one is by keeping them in the same enclosure. Yes, some hobbyists have had some positives outcomes with cohabitation of specific species, but it’s a game of chance.
Can tarantulas live together? No, you should never keep tarantulas together, unless you’re trying to mate them. Tarantulas aren’t social creatures, and on top of that, they’re cannibalistic in nature and will certainly kill each other.
That being said, some controversy does surround this topic since some hobbyists believe there are species of tarantula that are truly communal, while others say tarantulas that are kept together only tolerates each other – until they don’t anymore.
In the wild, tarantulas don’t live a communal life; they are solitary creatures. Even considering that fact, there are still some people who want to create little families of tarantulas – even at the detriment of their pet spiders.
Let’s look at the reasons why you shouldn’t put your tarantulas together and at instances where you can.
Tarantulas are Cannibals
We all know that in the wild, the female of the species is not to be messed with; one moment it’s love at first sight and the next, off with the male’s head! At times, female tarantulas skip the entrée altogether and move straight to the main course.
This tendency to forgo copulation and opt for a quick snack depends on two things: the tarantula’s aggressive genetics and if she’s a virgin.
Scientists evaluated female personalities of tarantulas and the link to sexual cannibalism by randomly selecting males and placing them with virgin tarantulas. They then document how things turned out.
Turns out, virgin females with aggressive personalities, fattened up on prey – which they also attack with an extra level of ferociousness – will go on a rampage and eat whatever crosses their path.
Docile females, on the other hand, will dine on weaklings and copulate with the leftovers. Of course, as with all leftovers, it gets eaten at some point in time!
But that begs the question, how will these uber aggressive female tarantulas reproduce if they can’t figure out that male tarantulas are sources of sperm, not just food?
A study found that it might be a case of availability; maybe the female tarantula is so aggressive because she is tired with all the male tarantula suitors knocking at her burrow and she’s had enough? Could be.
But why eat your mate at all?
Well, not only is it a matter of natural selection – if the male spider is fast enough to get away, he must be a fast runner and great survivor – but also the fact that male tarantulas are nutritious and that is perfect for a hungry or soon-to-be pregnant female T.
Another possible reason is the theory that after an older male tarantula has mated, he’s unlike to do so again, so his continued living is of a lesser benefit than him providing nutrition to the eggs.
- Interesting fact: Cannibalism does not depend on size.
Male tarantulas are territorial
Sexual cannibalism is well-documented in various arachnid and insect orders, but when it comes to tarantulas, we’re not just talking about female cannibals.
Male tarantulas are very territorial when it’s not mating season; they won’t hesitate to attack an intruder and eating them for dinner – even if it is a fellow tarantula. So, if you thought you could start a little tarantula boys club and turn the enclosure into a man cave, no luck!
When Can Tarantulas Cohabit?
I just told you that females eat males after sex and now I’m going to tell you THAT is the only time when they should be kept together. I know, owning tarantulas can be a confusing hobby.
But really, the only time you should put two tarantulas together is if you want to breed them, and even then you may have some casualties.
Also, cohabitation in this sense does not include a courting period; their interaction should be limited to actual copulation, and then you should get the male T out of there immediately.
Let’s look a little bit closer at the breeding process and dos and don’t that will save tarantula lives.
Make sure they are ready to mate
Tarantulas also have a breeding season like most animals do – it’s usually during fall, but that can fluctuate. But, even if it’s during breeding season, if your female has not shed for over 6 months, she is not ready to mate.
If you go ahead anyway, the sperm the male placed will go to waste with her next molting. When it comes to the readiness of the male, you want him to be mature.
You can tell if he has had his mature molt by looking for the hooks on his front legs. Although not all species of male Ts hook out, most do. You can also look out for a ‘sperm web’ in his paldipulps.
Male T should visit the female (no need to bring flowers)
Once you’ve determined that your two Ts are ready to mate, it is time to put them together. Don’t put the female in the male’s enclosure; be let him go to hers.
If her enclosure is not big enough, you can use a larger container, but you will need to put her in there a while before adding him – you want her to be calm and comfortable and not aggressive.
Keep a close eye on them
Breeding does not take that long, but it doesn’t matter if it is minutes or hours, you have to keep your eyes on them to avoid ending up with only one, albeit one pregnant, tarantula.
The male T will drum his legs on the ground and then slowly approach the female. At first touch, things will get a little crazy, and you won’t be able to tell if this is a serious fight or some wild foreplay.
It is during this toss and tumble that the male is trying to get his hooks onto the female Ts fangs so that she can’t bite him. After successfully doing this, the male will reach under her with his paldipulps and place the sperm inside of her sperm pouch.
Time to get involved
Now is the time to act quickly. After depositing the sperm, he will let go of her and try to run off. If she catches him, he’s dead. So, if you want your male T to escape unscathed, give him a helping hand and get him out of there ASAP!
Successful Communal Setup
As mentioned, some tarantula hobbyists have had some success with keeping specific species of tarantula together. It is, however, a whole other level of keeping tarantulas and I won’t suggest it for beginners (if at all).
But, should you be so inclined, there are two main things you have to remember. Keep them in a small enclosure where they are always in contact with each other.
If the space is too large, they will become territorial and with that comes cannibalism. Also, feeding them regularly is very important considering that they’re surrounded by eight-legged, hairy food 24/7 and should they get hungry, they may just help themselves to their brother or sister.
Oh, that reminds me, it’s best to keep it in the family and only include spiders from the same sack – or as the pros call them, sack mates.
Of course, if you plan on introducing adult tarantulas to a communal setup, it won’t matter if they’re sack mates, it most likely won’t work since they didn’t grow up in such an environment, to begin with. It is best to start your tarantula community with spiderlings.
Helpful hint: If you find a tarantula by itself away from the rest of the community, take it out before it becomes a snack.
Possible communal species to consider
- Coremecnemis tropix
- Monocentropus balfouri
- Poecilotheria species
- Hysterocrates gigas
- Holothele incei
- Pterinichilus murinus
- Heterothele gabonensis
- Heterothele villosella
- Pamphobeteus sp.
Now, to say that you’ve achieved success with housing tarantulas together is not a matter of keeping two tarantulas in the same enclosure for a few days or weeks.
Real success means completing a communal cycle, and this includes raising the spiderlings to maturity, mating, successful fertilization, incubation, hatching of spiderlings, mothering and effective inclusion of new tarantulas in the community.
Basically, you want an enclosure filled with at least three generations of the same species of tarantula living in harmony together. That’s is going to take a lot of time and effort, and you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a few casualties along the way.
Now you know why you should not keep tarantulas together and when you can attempt to have them in one enclosure.
It is up to you to decide if you’re willing to chance it because, for some reason, two or 10 tarantulas in one enclosure is so much more exciting than just one. For me, that’s way too much stress, not just for me, but I imagine for the tarantulas cohabitating also.
We want to create environments for them that are as close to the original, and if you look at tarantulas in nature, they’re just not social creatures.
Yeah, you may find more than one in a specific area, but that does not mean they’re meeting for drinks at the nearest watering hole every day. If you keep them together in an enclosure, even from young, they’re forced to go against their nature and mingle.
If you ask me, that’s like taking an introvert and making them live in a two-bedroom flat with five other people!