Tarantulas are usually described as pet ‘rocks’, and for good reason – they don’t move a lot! Being nocturnal in nature, Ts will be more active at night time but within limits.
That is why some tarantula owners get a little worried when their Ts start scaling the walls all hours of the night and day.
So what might be the reason for this activity?
- It’s mating season, and your male T is looking for a mate.
- You moved it to a new enclosure, and it is exploring its new home.
- Your T is hungry.
- Something is wrong in its environment; it’s too hot, too dry, too humid or dehydrated
So, basically, an overly active tarantula is usually not a good thing and figuring out why exactly your T is uncharacteristically energetic is easier said than done. Luckily, through a process of elimination, you can quickly figure out what is wrong and fix it.
After all, no one wants an unhappy pet tarantula!
Tarantula Goes From Pet Rock To Spider Monkey
Okay, in the beginning, this new-found activity may be welcomed by tarantula hobbyists, especially newbies. Yes, watching a tarantula may at times be compared to watching paint dry.
They really aren’t very lively creatures. So, when all of a sudden they start walking all over, it is exciting! Until reality sinks in and you realize something must be wrong.
Now comes the hard task of figuring out what exactly is causing this excessive movement.
1. It’s a male tarantula
Most animals have a mating season. For tarantulas, this will be in the fall during the months of September and October. During this time, male Ts in the wild will go out in search of females to mate with. They do this by zoning in on the pheromones that receptive females release.
Just because your male tarantula is living in captivity, it doesn’t mean that their urge to mate disappears. These creatures run on instinct and nothing is stronger than the drive to reproduce.
The only problem is it may drive a pet tarantula a little crazy. Think about it, your whole being has one singular goal – procreation – but that can’t come to fruition because, uh, you’re in a glass enclosure.
Of course, your T doesn’t know this, and as soon as its instinct to mate takes over, round and round and up and down, it will go in search of a female it will never find.
2. You moved it to a new enclosure
If you’ve ever brought a T back home from the pet shop in a tiny plastic container and placed it in a nice new enclosure, you know that they usually immediately start exploring. Who wouldn’t? It’s like going from living in a small bedroom to living in a penthouse.
Tarantulas will travel around the enclosure to get to know their new environment not just because of all the interesting new smells and textures, but for survival. They want to figure out where the water source is and where they can hide should a big predator approach.
That being said, there is some stress involved with rehoming your tarantula and that in itself can also cause extreme activity.
But, if you’ve just put your T into a new enclosure, you can be close to 100% sure that is why there is so much movement, eliminating all the other possible reasons. Just give it a few hours or days, and your tarantula will reclaim its pet rock status. If it doesn’t, maybe it’s time to feed it.
3. It’s hungry
Tarantulas are hunters. They’re not like other spiders that use webbing to catch their prey; they actively look for food.
This is why it may be a good idea for you to keep a tarantula food journal so you can see exactly how long ago you fed your T and if this disproportionate hustle and bustle is due to hunger pangs or something else.
4. Something is wrong in the tarantula’s environment
And with something, I mean anything from the temperature to the wetness of the substrate to niggly mites gnawing away at your T’s mouth.
So, after figuring out that your tarantula is now extra active due to points 1 to 3, it’s now time to look at its enclosure and the tarantula itself – with a magnifying glass.
Let’s start with the humidity of your T’s enclosure. This is important; too dry and your tarantula will shrivel up and die, too wet and your T is basically drowning with every breath it takes.
You can see why that may lead to a stressed tarantula that is frantically looking for a way out of its enclosure.
The ideal humidity for most species of tarantulas are between 50% and 70%, but it is important that you do your research and set up your T’s environment as close to the one it hails from.
This is a contentious issue. Most seasoned hobbyists will quickly tell you to ditch the heating mat you were told to get when you got your first T.
Unfortunately, uneducated pet shop owners still believe that it’s necessary to place part of your tarantula’s enclosure on a heating mat to simulate the temperature of the regions most Ts come from.
You don’t need a heating mat. In fact, you will most probably fry your tarantula from the inside out if you use one when you don’t live in Antarctica. Tarantulas can more than survive in temperatures we humans maintain indoors.
The ideal rage is between 21-24°C – not as warm as you expected, right?
The number one killer of tarantulas is dehydration. Tarantulas need water to survive, and although most of their water needs are met through food, there are times when that is not enough.
For example, when there is not a burrow for your tarantula to take refuge in. You might be wondering what a burrow has to do with dehydration, well, Ts that stay out in the open 24/7, lose moisture easily, especially if the enclosure is already dry to begin with.
Luckily, this is easy to fix. A water dish, some misting of the substrate, and Bob is your tarantula’s uncle!
5. Worms and Mites
Time to get your magnifying glass. You’re looking for a white (sometimes squirmy) substance in your tarantula’s mouth region. If you spot it, your T has nematode worms, and it’s no wonder that it has been restless.
These worms penetrate through a small opening, usually the T’s book lungs or anus, and spread throughout the entire tarantula. They finally emerge through the mouth. Unfortunately, once the symptoms are noticed, it is usually too late.
One good thing, however, is that nematode worms are fairly rare.
Usually, mites can be seen in the substrate, but in some cases, they do attach themselves to the tarantula. Now, it doesn’t matter if the mites are crawling around in the substrate or on the spider, they are hella annoying to tarantulas.
It makes sense why the tarantula is walking up and down 7 million times – imagine you were surrounded by millions of tiny ants. I would run, nevermind walk!
Naturally, this wouldn’t be an article about tarantulas without mentioning that these creatures are at times finicky and may just not like the brand of substrate you bought for their enclosure, or, maybe they don’t like your decorating skills.
So, I suggest you eliminate all the possibilities we covered and if your T continues to walk a solo 5km park run daily, just make peace with it.
At least now when your friends come over, they won’t mistake the decorative rock in the corner of the enclosure for your tarantula, they’ll actually be able to see it move!