Eating is a vital part of maintaining our metabolism. It gets so difficult to go even a day without food. When we have pets with us, we would make sure they are well fed when we are away. So if you have a pet tarantula, how long can it go without eating?
Surprisingly, a tarantula can go a year without food and sometimes even more. Some can go as long as two years without food. But they need access to water. Their dietary needs are not as frequent as of any other pets. This makes them kind of low maintenance, as they are not very demanding in almost every aspect.
If a tarantula’s dietary needs are too low, how would you get to know if they are actually sick? When is their refusal of food a cause of concern for their owners? We will get to that and more further in the article.
Tarantulas And Their Fasting Behavior
Generally, you need to feed your tarantula twice a month or every week in case you have a young tarantula. They can live up to 20 years if they are maintained carefully. Females are known to live longer than males.
So what does a tarantula need while you are away for a long vacation?
As mentioned earlier, tarantulas can do well without food. But of course, you shouldn’t starve them just because they are not very demanding.
Your tarantula can die if they don’t have fair access to water. They can live a good amount of time without food but they will die without water or enough moisture.
There are species of dessert spiders that go on without water. But an important thing to note will be that they obtain moisture from their prey. Most of the tarantulas are very sensitive to their need for water and can only go till ten days or so without water.
There were reports of a tarantula owner being dead. The authorities discovered the owner’s tarantulas after 8 months in an enclosure, alive!
Those tarantulas may not have had access to water but humidity, climate, and temperature can determine how long they can retain moisture and go without water.
The best bet is to keep their access to water available to them by filling their water dish and go for your vacation.
Tarantulas Can Be Fussy Eaters
If you think feeding toddlers can be frustrating, try feeding a tarantula. They can reject the food you give without rhyme or reason.
You might be kept wondering what you are doing wrong till you finally get it right – only for the ‘right’ to become wrong in another month or so.
Why can it get frustrating for any new tarantula owner? Food eating habits tell a lot about a person’s or a being’s health.
A tarantula may have very low feeding demands, but if they are not eating anything at all for long, it can become a topic of concern. Most of the time, it is hardly ever a matter of concern.
When Not To Worry
Your tarantula’s reason for not eating can be as follows –
- Molting season – If they are molting or in pre-molt season, they may refuse to eat.
- Change in environment
- Not able to hunt their prey – A rule of thumb for getting the right ‘prey’ for your tarantula would be to get them a prey that is at least a tad bit smaller than the tarantula’s midsection.
If their prey is faster than them, they might not be able to catch it. So try to change it between roaches to crickets and to super worms whenever necessary.
- Being a fussy eater – When you try to feed your tarantula, look if they are interested to eat or not. If they don’t eat now, try to feed them after two weeks.
Also, when they are overfed, they might refuse to eat for months. Therefore, you shouldn’t be feeding them daily or very frequently.
When To Worry
The only time it is a matter to be concerned is when they show physical signs of deteriorating health – excluding molting. If they are not molting and show a general disinterest or unusual behavior, seek a veterinarian’s help.
Also, the sign of them dying is when they lay on their back and tightly hold their legs to their midsection. When they molt, they also tend to lie on their back.
So let’s understand a little bit more about molting and its signs so that we don’t confuse it with your tarantula dying.
Signs Of Molting In Tarantula And What To Do
When tarantulas shed their exoskeleton and prepare for a new one, this whole process is called molting.
A tarantula may be preparing for its molting season months before they actually start with the process. They will try to be less active than usual and also refuse to eat.
Young tarantulas may molt often in a year. A normal adult will molt once a year.
As they grow older and older, they may start to molt less frequently, even going years without molting. Some may molt one last time before they near their end of the lifespan.
Tarantulas often get sensitive during their molting season. It is best not to feed or even touch your tarantula pre and post molting. Let them rest for at least a week or two after molting before you can interact with them physically.
Signs Of Molting
- They may stop or limit their movement to conserve energy. If you are noticing that they are not being their usual self, maybe they are in the process of molting.
- They may refuse to eat or eat too little. This is also a sign of them going into molting.
- You might notice clear liquid on their joints or in between their joints. These tiny droplets may indicate that they are preparing for molting. However, not every species of tarantula may show this sign.
- Your tarantula may develop bald spots on their abdomen and elsewhere. If the abdomen looks shinier and darker than before (due to the absence of hair), it is a good sign of them molting.
- When they are ready to molt their exoskeleton, they would lay on their side or on their back to make the process easier. It will take a few hours for them to complete the process.
What To Do When They Are Molting
Do not touch them or offer them any ‘prey’. Their body will be very sensitive at that point in time and will need rest to recuperate. Hunting their prey will make their body vulnerable to injury.
Take their exoskeleton out of their cage using tweezers or any other picking tool.
Keep water available to them. Try feeding them after a week and make sure that their food is not overwhelmingly large. Make it ‘bite-size’ (only as big as their mid-section).
How To Take Care Of Your Tarantula Efficiently
We have covered most of their dietary needs and handling when molting. These are additional informational tips to make your tarantula feel safer under your care. These tips will help you take better care of your tarantula.
Decide which species of tarantula you are going to keep. There are tree-dwelling tarantulas and burrowing tarantulas. They both have a little different habitat needs.
How many tarantulas are you wanting to keep? If you are going to keep more than one, keep each one in different tank/cage, as they can get territorial and cannibalistic on each other.
Tree dwelling tarantulas may like their cage to be placed vertically while a burrowing will like it to be kept horizontally. A fish tank is usually enough to keep them safe and happy.
Make sure you only leave 4 millimeters of holes for them to breathe. The rest of the spaces should be closed off with a lid or any silicone used for aquarium. Also, if you suspect that your tarantula might crawl out of the cage by opening the lid, place something heavy over it.
Lay 1-3 inches of a thin substrate at the bottom of your tank with sterilized potting soil, coconut fiber, and the likes. A burrowing species might prefer 5 inches of the substrate to dig into.
Maintain the tank’s temperature between 22 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Do not keep the tank under direct sunlight.
Keep the humidity in the tank up to 50%. A plant mister would help you keep that balance. Make sure that the humidity in the tank doesn’t get lower than 50%, especially when they are molting.
Make sure you provide them with clean and chlorine-free water in a dish. Feed young tarantulas once or twice every week and lower the frequency, as they start growing up.