If you’re new to keeping tarantulas, knowing how to heat your tarantula tank to the perfect temperature for your spider can seem daunting.
Luckily, getting or keeping your tarantula’s tank at the right temperature is not as difficult as it sounds. With some research, we’ve found various ways in which you can heat the tarantula’s tank.
There are a few main ways in which to heat a tarantula’s tank. The main ones are space or room heaters, a heat mat, and heat strips. Using heat rocks, however, is dangerous and they should preferably not be used at all. Heat lamps are a definite no in all circumstances.
Tarantulas are native to warmer climates, which often means that, if you live in a cold region or the room you want to keep your tarantula in is very cold, that you will need to heat it to the proper temperature. This is sometimes also necessary during winter even in warmer climates.
The Correct Temperature For A Tarantula Tank
The correct temperature for tarantulas is 70 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius). However, there are some differences between certain tarantula species. However, temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).
It’s also important to know that you should make a temperature gradient in the tank, i.e. making one side or part of the tank warmer than the rest.
However, the warmth in the tank should not be a dry heat and you should make sure that the humidity in the tarantula’s enclosure is also correct.
As a rule of thumb, scrubland tarantulas prefer a humidity level of 60-75%, while rain forest tarantulas generally need a higher level of humidity; 75-90%. It is best to double-check the humidity that your specific species of tarantula requires.
You should keep in mind that too much humidity could not only cause mold to grow in the enclosure but also cause the temperature to spike.
Next, we’ll look at how to heat your tarantula’s tank and what equipment you need, look at some good choices of products to use and how to ensure that the tank doesn’t get too hot. This is extremely important, as a tank that is too hot can not only stress your tarantula but even kill it.
How To Heat Your Tarantula’s Tank Safely
Once you’ve decided on the way that you’re going to heat your tarantula’s tank, you can start doing research to get the correct equipment.
Space Or Room Heater
If you’ve decided to use a simple space or room heater because you only need to raise the temperature in the room by a few degrees, make sure that the heater has a temperature regulator and an automatic off-switch.
This will ensure that the room doesn’t keep heating up while you’re not there and make it unbearably hot for your poor tarantula.
Even if you do use a space heater, you will still need to have a thermometer in your tarantula’s tank to ensure that the temperature inside the tank isn’t too high. Then keep an eye on this thermometer and adjust the space heater as needed.
A Heat Pad
Heat pads are now widely used as a way to heat a tarantula’s tank to the correct temperature. However, make sure that you don’t just pick the cheapest heat pad as they could do more harm than good.
How you should choose a heat pad is to first find out what size heat pad you should get for the size of the tarantula tank that you have. Also keep in mind that you need to create a temperature gradient in the tank, so the heat pad should not be the same size of the tank.
A good rule of thumb is to use the smallest heat pad for a 5-gallon tank as you won’t need to heat a large area.
After doing your homework on the heat pad that you want to use — go ahead and read the five and one-star reviews — you should also invest in a thermometer and thermostat.
Note that, even if you use the smallest heat pad, you will still need to get the thermometer and thermostat.
The Tarantula Tank’s Thermostat And Thermometer
As soon as you add any additional heat to the tarantula tank, you must invest in a good quality thermometer and thermostat.
The thermostat is used in conjunction with the heat pad and controls the amount of heat that is provided. This ensures that the heat pad doesn’t just get hotter and hotter (and probably killing your tarantula), but remains at a constant temperature.
Make sure that, just as with the heat pad, you buy a reliable and good quality thermostat. This will ensure that the thermostat lasts longer and measures the temperature accurately.
The thermometer is a way to manually keep an eye on the temperature inside your tarantula tank (which is why one is necessary even if you’re using a space heater). You can use a digital thermometer with a heat-sensing probe, which can be fitted to the tank itself, or use a “heat gun”.
The accuracy of dial thermometers has been called into question so, if you’re planning on using one of these, make sure that you choose a high quality and trusted brand.
How To Install The Heat Pad
Instead of putting the tank on top of the heat pad, you should rather affix the heat pad to the outside of the Tarantula tank. Don’t worry about it sticking — the good quality heat pads won’t suddenly come unstuck.
There are various reasons why you shouldn’t put the tank on top of the heat pad (as was mostly done previously).
The main reasons are that your tarantula won’t be able to burrow into the substrate as it would in the wild to get away from the heat. Indeed, as they burrow, they would find that it gets hotter instead!
The substrate that is used for tarantulas is also not very heat conductive. This can lead to heat pads overheating and cause damage such as cracking the tank itself.
More important, though, is that it can push the temperatures in the tank up to dangerous levels, even causing burns to your tarantula.
Affixed to the side of the tarantula tank, the heat pad will heat the air in the tank rather than only heating the substrate. This way of heating the tank gives your tarantula a more “natural” habitat to live in as well.
Not only suited for ground-dwelling tarantulas, but this way of heating the tank is also great for the arboreal (tree-dwelling) tarantula species.
Examples Of Products That Can Be Used To Heat A Tarantula Tank
There are two great heat mats that you can have a look at if you decide on using heat mats for your tarantula’s tank.
1. Zilla Reptile Heating Mat
The first is the Zilla Reptile Heating Mat (see it here) for 10-20 gallon tanks (size: small). This small but hardy heat mat is not only from a trusted brand, but it is relatively inexpensive, with a price point of around $20.
You should also not let the name of the heating mat put you off — it can be used for spiders as well as reptiles and various other smaller pets. Just be sure to check that you
The Zilla Reptile Heating Mat can be affixed to the side of your tarantula’s tank — remember that temperature gradient — and should last you quite a while before having to be replaced.
Note that this heating mat does not have a thermometer or thermostat included, so be sure to put that in your cart as well.
We highly recommend getting this thermostat no matter which heat pad you choose.
2. iPower Reptile Heat Pad
The second heat mat, is the 6” x 8” iPower Reptile Heat Pad (see it here). Also meant for a 10-20 gallon tank, making this heat pad perfect for a tarantula’s tank.
It is also adhesive; which means that you can fit the heat pad to the side of the tank with no problems instead of being forced to put it under the tank or MacGyver it with some duct tape to stick it on the side of the tank.
Because you can stick it to the side of the tank, you can also quite easily create the necessary temperature gradient. The iPower Reptile Heat Pad is also waterproof and has a 1-year manufacturer warranty.
This heat pad is also a few dollars cheaper than the Zilla Reptile Heating Mat but is highly thought of and rated.
You will also need to purchase a thermostat and thermometer separately from the heat pad.
Get a good thermometer!
If you decide to rather get a digital infrared thermometer rather than a thermometer that affixes to your tarantula’s tank itself, a good option is the Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun.
Not only does it look cool, but it’s also very easy to use and comes highly recommended.
On the positive side, it’s also a very economical temperature gun (these are often called “heat guns” as well) and costs around $20. The battery is also included.
This thermometer can measure surface temperatures ranging from below freezing to 716 degrees Fahrenheit. Measuring your tarantula tank’s temperature will, therefore, not be a problem at all.
Lastly, we’ll have a look at the different safety measures you can implement to keep your tarantula cozy and warm instead of hot and stressed.
Safety Precautions When Heating A Tarantula Tank
Keep an eye on your equipment
Even if you buy high-quality equipment, it will stop working at some stage or could even malfunction. It is, therefore, very important to check your equipment often to make sure that all wiring and adhesive is still intact.
Should you notice that the cables’ covering is perishing, you need to replace your equipment ASAP and not just try to fix it yourself and hope for the best.
It’s better to pay the money for a new heat pad, for example, than it is to put your tarantula under stress or in danger because of equipment malfunction.
Start at a low temperature
Once you have attached the heat pad to the tarantula tank, start on a low heat setting and gradually increase the temperature as needed.
This will ensure that you don’t heat up the tank too fast and also don’t put your tarantula under any strain so that it tries to burrow away from the severe heat.
Don’t use a heating pad or room heater when you don’t really need it
If the room that you are keeping your tarantula in already measures in the high sixties or in the seventies, there is most likely no reason to actually heat your tarantula’s tank unless the weather turns very suddenly.
When the weather does change and you find that you need to start heating the tank, start at a low temperature as discussed above.
Check the temperature often, don’t assume
Once you have set up your equipment to heat your tarantula’s tank, you will need to check that the temperature remains constant and doesn’t spike.
A good rule of thumb is to check in the mornings and evenings, although checking during the day if it’s very warm, is also a good idea. Just because you are using a thermostat and thermometer doesn’t mean that you can just leave the tank for days on end without checking.
Only use high-quality equipment
As we’ve said before, using quality equipment is very important to ensure that the equipment not only works correctly but will also provide years of quality heating.
Create a temperature gradient
A temperature gradient is of the utmost importance to give your tarantula a way to regulate their body temperature.
If you see your tarantula either only hiding or spending all its time in the cooler part of the tank, you need to make sure that you turn down the heating pad (or even turn it off).
Remember that too hot temperatures inside the tank can cause burns on your tarantula and put them under a lot of unnecessary stress.
As you can see, it’s actually a lot simpler to heat your tarantula tank than you might have thought before reading this article.
Of course, if you want to double-check that you are using the correct temperature, etc. for your tarantula, talk to your tarantula breeder. This will be especially important for those tarantulas that are meant for seasoned tarantula keepers.