Do tarantulas need calcium? If you have owned different lizards and serpents, you know the drill in terms of feeding them and you need to always dust their food with the magical calcium powder. But how about tarantulas? Will the calcium help with their growth?
Tarantulas do not actually need calcium. As tarantulas are invertebrates, they really do not have bones. Instead, they rely on their exoskeleton to support their muscular functions. Further, the ingestion of too much calcium by tarantulas can prove to be harmful to them.
Were you surprised that your tarantula is just comprised of muscles and tissues? With their massive size, sometimes we forget that those legs do not even contain a single bone in them. Keep on reading to find out why you should not give calcium to your tarantulas.
Do Tarantulas Need Calcium?
Your tarantulas do not need calcium, therefore, you do not have to go through the hassle of dusting calcium powder on your crickets, mealworms, etc. As again, they do not have any bones, there is really no need for calcium in your tarantula’s body.
More than that, as calcium is somewhat a foreign compound in your tarantula’s body, their bodies have no idea how to breakdown or consume calcium. This can lead to some problems later on.
What is important in terms of feeding your tarantula is that you always have to gut load your feeders. In this way, you are ensured that your tarantula gets all the nutrition that he needs.
What Is Gut Loading?
This is the process where your feeders are raised and fed with highly nutritious food so that these nutrients will be passed on to your tarantula.
When you purchase feeders like crickets or mealworms from the pet store, they rarely have a high nutritional value. Therefore, you need to feed them other food so that they will end up being beneficial to your T.
This can be done by feeding them vegetables, fruits, grains, or any other recommended food that can be nutritious for your tarantula. Moreover, you can also buy other commercial products that have been fortified with certain vitamins and minerals.
Some of these products have combinations of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, dietary fiber, and vitamins. In using these products in addition to feeding your feeders healthy food, your tarantula will surely grow properly and healthy.
Is Calcium Harmful To Tarantulas?
Calcium, per se, is not harmful to your tarantulas. However, it is the existence of too much calcium in your tarantula’s system that can cause some concerns.
Let us take a look at some of the problems that too much calcium can cause on your tarantulas. Keep in mind that the instances of this happening is just three out of 10.
But again, when it comes to your tarantulas, you should always exercise extraordinary diligence as of course, you do not want them to suffer from illnesses brought about by something that they do not need in the first place.
A lot of first-time tarantula owners who have dusted their feeders with calcium powder noticed that there are always stuck molts on their tarantula. Not only that, but they also tend to molt slowly.
What happens inside your tarantula’s body during molting is that there is a chemical reaction that produces two proteins. In turn, these two proteins need to connect with each other so that they can create a compound.
Once connected and the compound is formed, it then starts to harden. This hardened compound is the foundation of your tarantula’s new body.
When you throw calcium in the mix, it messes up the reaction of the two proteins. This will then lead to the compound hardening slowly or not even hardening at all.
This is the reason behind the stuck molt. It is not that your tarantula cannot get out of his old exoskeleton, it is just that his own body is still not properly formed and hardened to get rid of it.
It may also be related to Dyskinetic Syndrome which can also explain why your T is just hanging out at the corner of your tank. You can read our article here to see the other reasons why this behavior is happening.
Change In Movement
There are also some owners who noticed that their tarantulas started to move very slowly. Especially when live food is inside the enclosure. This decline in movement lasted for at least three weeks and ended in death.
Now, you do not have to panic and be paranoid if you gave your tarantula some calcium. The probability of your tarantula dying is slim, but still, this type of instance can happen. So it is important that you are aware of these things.
What happens is that there is too much calcium in the body of your tarantula and as his body does not know what to do with the excess calcium, it just gets absorbed into his muscles and tissues. The end result?
The calcium calcifies the muscles and tissues. (Scary, we know)
This leads to your tarantula to have difficulty in moving as of course, his muscles are glued on the spot. When he can no longer move properly, then he cannot tend to his everyday needs. Which can be the cause of illness and eventually, death.
Again, do not be scared. Veterinarians who were able to open the bodies of deceased tarantulas were only able to confirm this cause of death with a ratio of one out of eight. So this rarely happens.
On the other hand, you have to be wary of some signs that show that your T is stressed. This may or may not be related to the ingestion of too much calcium. You can take a look at our article here If you want to learn about the typical stress signs in tarantulas.
This one is actually the instance that is most common and usually, the injury is almost always found in one or many of your tarantula’s legs. If you are certain that this injury was not caused by aggressive feeders or other external factors, the ingestion of too much calcium is to blame.
As we have discussed previously, the presence of too much calcium in the body of your tarantula can lead to the calcification of the muscles and tissues. However, in some instances, instead of somehow gluing the muscles in a spot, it can tear the muscle.
The tearing of the muscle is not actually directly caused by calcium, but it is the natural response of the body of your tarantula. Once your tarantula’s body senses that there is some calcification happening, it will then try to fight off the compound (which is calcium).
As of course, calcium cannot be simply eradicated from the body, the response is to simply tear the muscle so that new muscle can grow. So why is the bleeding always found on the legs?
Calcium has a way of finding the parts that are usually used for motion. As again, it is supposed to be absorbed in the bones. Now, your tarantula does not have bones, but he does have legs that he always uses. Therefore, calcium tends to pool in the muscles in the legs.
What To Do?
Now that you know that you should not give calcium to your tarantulas, what should be your next step? Let us take a look at the following.
- Stop giving calcium to your tarantula. If you were able to give them a lot, make sure to provide lots of water and give them fiber-rich food so that they can expel some of that calcium.
- Always gut load your feeders with a combination of natural food and commercial products that provide extra nutrients.
- Give your tarantula a variety of feeders, In this way, they have a plethora of nutrients as some feeders have more of a specific nutrient than others.
- If you notice a change in behavior in your tarantula, take him immediately to the vet.