It’s common to see tarantula terrariums with bright lights in them, but since they are a nocturnal animal is it needed?
Do tarantulas need light? When you go to the pet store that is the standard set up for all of the so-called creepy crawlies. Also when you go to the pet store it’s hard to see the tarantulas because they never seem to be out and about in their cage.
The reason for this is because tarantulas don’t need as much light as you think that they do. That doesn’t mean that they can live without any light either. It’s all about the right kind and amount for your tarantula.
Read further to find out the type of light that your tarantula needs, how much light, and its benefits vs downfalls.
Do tarantulas need light
The light honestly depends on the natural environment of your tarantula. Most are nocturnal animals who rarely come out during the day and prefer to hunt in the safety of darkness.
Brighter lights than the natural sun and lights during the night are not congruent with their natural lifestyle. Since the tarantula is a nocturnal animal the lights will only succeed in making your spider hide whenever they are on.
There are many species of tarantulas, over 800 in fact, and they come from all across the globe from different types of environments. The best light amount for your spider is one that matches the type of place they are used to in the wild.
Some owners keep their tarantulas in a closet for the rest of their life. They are nocturnal animals so it will not do serious harm to them. Without sunlight, however, their circadian rhythm will be messed up.
Instead of getting a light for spiders who don’t specifically need it set them up in a darker corner of the room. Somewhere that isn’t in direct light but allows them to see the changes in the day.
Even if you get a light for display or to give them some time with light if they are in a dark part of the house you should not keep it on all day. Display light such as red light should only be on when taking care of your tarantula or before you go to bed.
If you are not interacting with your spider then there is no reason to have a display light on.
When using lights for your tarantula don’t keep the light directly in the tank with them. Put it off to the side so that you can view your spider and they are getting the benefits of the light, but it isn’t directly on them.
Type of light for tarantulas
If you have no choice but to set your spider up in a closet, but don’t want to mess up their circadian rhythm then look for blubs that have a low wattage. Higher wattage bulbs will emit more heat than the spider needs.
Sticking with bulbs that have 25 or even lower wattage will provide enough light for your tarantula to have some light while also not blinding them. This wattage requirement goes for all bubs even red ones.
Along with color wattage of the bulb needs to be examined. Whether you intend to or not any light that you put in the spider’s terrarium will emit heat. Each species of tarantula has its heat level.
Any additional heat could cause your spider to be dehydrated and it could cook your spider in their exoskeleton.
Incandescent lights put off heat whenever used. That’s fine if you need to heat the tank a bit if the overall house temperature is too low for your spider’s requirements. It isn’t great if you already have the temperature set.
When choosing a bulb go for LED which produces less heat than the other types of light.
Tarantulas need low levels of light even during the daytime. UVB and UVC light is too harsh for your spider’s fragile system. Instead, go for a UVA lamp. It’s hard to find only a UVA lamp, but there are options for lamps that have an option for UVA and UVB light.
Make sure it allows you to choose, some pet UV lamps just provide both without an option to switch between the two.
Tarantulas are not able to see red light so it will not disturb them as a bright light would. This is more for the owner than the spider since it is a light source that allows the owner to see their tarantula and not disturb them in the process.
Other lights you can use
While red light is the most common light to use for tarantulas they also respond well to blue light. A newer type of bulb called moonlight blubs are also recommended. They are a dark purple that emits a soft light.
Do not use blacklight for tarantulas. Long extended time in blacklight causes health problems for arachnids.
Benefits of light
Just because they don’t need additional lights doesn’t mean they need to be kept in complete darkness either. The best place for your tarantula is a darker corner of the house.
This way they are in a darkened corner that receives direct light neither the sun nor your fluorescents. But not so dark that they are not aware of the ebb and flow of the world around them.
Even though tarantulas are nocturnal they still see the sun and are aware of day turning into light. All animals need some amount of sunshine to be healthy. Without this process, your tarantula’s internal clock will be confused.
They will not know when to come out when to sleep or anything. Indirect sunlight won’t hurt them so let them have a little sun.
Downsides of light
The idea here is indirect light. Your tarantula is used to the common changes of time in the outside world. Light by itself won’t hurt them. But using direct light might.
Putting your terrarium under a window or areas with high light will overwhelm your spider. In the wild they have more areas to hide then you can make available in their tank. Direct light will increase the travel of heat through the glass of your terrarium. Learn why hides are important for tarantulas in our article here.
The combination of light and added heat will dry up your sensitive spiders’ body. If your tarantula is from a place with a lot of heat and light they can withstand the added warmth, but those who habitat colder areas will be affected immediately. Did you know your tarantula can feel cold? Here are 3 signs that your tarantula is getting too cold.
Bright lights in the tank itself are most of the time completely unnecessary for your spider. There is a large variety of tarantulas and they come from all over the world. So the requirements for one spider will be completely different for another.
Before bringing a spider into your home decide on which type you want and the environmental requirements for that breed.
Looking up the specifications of your type of tarantula you might find that they need more heat and light that other varieties do. But not all tarantula breeds need light in their terrarium.
Before you buy a light for your spider check with your local seller for any tank requirements. Or look them up to see if they specifically need it.
If none of the information that you can find states that additional light is a requirement then they don’t need a tank light and it could be more harmful to them in the long run.
Even in terms of heating for your tarantula, you should not use heating lamps. It could cause them to burn or dehydrate. Many tarantula owners consider buying heat mats for their T. Are heating mats any better than heating lamps? Find out here.
Instead, use your home heating system to keep the temperature in your terrarium in your spiders. You can also set up a ceramic heating system for your spiders. Know how to correctly heat your tarantula’s terrarium in our ultimate guide.
The best way to tell that your spider is being overheated is by checking their exoskeleton after molting. If the skin is hard and leathery their skin is drying out. They will also have scaring and bubbles on the inside of the exoskeleton.
How long they need light
Even though lights are not needed for the most part some people still use them because their home doesn’t allow them to place their tarantulas in more natural light rooms. Some spiders need more heat and light due to their natural environment.
When lighting a terrarium under these circumstances keep the light to when the sun naturally rises and falls. Typically that means 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.
Sometimes people can’t keep their tarantulas in the main room. Perhaps there is a loved one that doesn’t like spiders or there are no areas in the house that provide dim enough light for the tarantula’s needs.
A lot of spider owners keep their tarantulas in a closet or enclosure to provide the right level of darkness needed. Keep in mind this should not be your first option for terrarium location.
Try putting them in a room that will provide enough natural light first. To provide enough light you can install lighting fixtures or open the door if it is in an area that isn’t in direct sunlight.
Don’t worry your arachnids getting enough oxygen. The amount that comes through space at the bottom of the door should be enough.
You may also consider blocking direct light with décor in and around the terrarium or covering some of the tanks with fabric to provide them with places to get away from the light.
If you are setting up a lighting system for your tarantula it is traditional to start with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark to make it easier for you. There is no set time as long as your spider gets some light and dark hours, with more dark if the time needs to be unbalanced.
If the 12-hour system is incongruent you can go with the natural light hours to determine how much light your tarantula will receive.
You can also set the time to accommodate your work schedule. The main motive here is for your spider to get enough hours of light and dark. Don’t worry about being strict about time.
If you know yourself enough to realize that remembering to turn the lights on and off will escape your memory then get yourself a timer for your light.
Tarantulas are nocturnal creatures so no light is needed at night. This is the time that will feel more comfortable coming out of their hidey holes and explore their area.
Light at night will throw off their internal clock, especially if they have light during the day. If you use a light turn it off during the night. For those who use no light just turn off any lights in the room.
The only type of light that tarantulas can tolerate at night are red lights. Tarantulas can’t see this type of light so it will not mess with their nocturnal habits. Red light is mostly for the owner than the tarantula, it allows you to view the spider in darkness.
It gives the owner a new perspective of their spider. What are their active habits? What exactly do they do in the dark? Since these don’t hurt your spider they might be an interesting investment that will bring you closer to your arachnid while giving a clearer picture of their personality.
The most important thing when making additions to a tarantula’s environment is if this was how they naturally lived in the wild. Even though we can’t create it perfectly this is how your spider will thrive.
Just a few things to keep in mind when setting up your spider’s tank. Look up your spider to see what kind of light they need individually. If they don’t need light then keep them in a dimly light area. Finally don’t keep them in absolute darkness.