What Do Pet Tarantulas Eat?

Trinidad Dwarf Tarantula

A question that would-be tarantula owners often ask us is about what pet tarantulas eat. It is an important question after all, and one that you really should find out the answer to before getting one of these wonderful creatures. You might be surprised at how many people fail to consider this question before getting a pet tarantula and then balking when they realize that these spiders are carnivores and require live food sources.

Feeding Your Tarantula

So what do pet tarantulas eat then, and where do you find food sources for them? And once you’ve worked out all of this, another question might surface: how do you actually feed a tarantula once you have acquired a food source. We answer these questions for you in the following paragraphs.

Your pet tarantula will eat things such as:

  • silkworms
  • crickets
  • mealworms
  • cockroaches
  • king worms
  • horn worms
  • grasshoppers
  • cicadas
  • millipedes
  • caterpillars
  • smaller spiders
  • most other insects smaller than the tarantula.

Many of the insects can be sourced from a local pet store, and they are widely available online now, as well. In their natural habitat, tarantulas tend to survive on a diet of insects and other smaller spiders. Occasionally they might eat small lizards and mice. In captivity, it is obviously going to be up to you to provide their food, meaning that you will need to handle live insects to feed the spider.

Nevertheless, when feeding your tarantula, it is important to choose appropriately sized food. Although larger tarantulas can eat prey that is of a similar size to itself, it is better to opt for something smaller.

Some newer tarantula owners will just throw in a few insects like crickets and the spider will be fine with this. However, this could cause stress to your spider as some insects may fight back and bite the tarantula, causing injury. It is far better to feed the spider one insect at a time but remove live food from the tank after about ten to fifteen minutes if it has not been eaten.

Water Dishes in Tarantula Enclosures

There is some controversy in tarantula husbandry about whether or not it is a good idea to place water dishes in your tarantula’s tank. Some believe that water dishes are a hazard that could lead to drowning and should never be placed in an enclosure.

Then there are those who believe that water dishes are essential and that misting the tank is not sufficient to ensure tarantulas do not suffer from dehydration. This writer has always used water dishes and has never had a tarantula or sling drown. It is my opinion that water sources are necessary for tarantulas as they do not get enough water just from their food.

I use water dishes that are shallow, and I place about half an inch of water in the container. I change this every day. Not only do my tarantulas have a source of water should they need it, but the water also helps to keep the environment moist and humid.  

How Often Should You Feed Your Tarantula?

If you have any baby tarantulas in your tank, you will need to feed them regularly. This is because underfeeding can quickly lead to dehydration. To encourage growth then, you may want to feed them a small amount every day.

Adult tarantulas do not eat as often and can go for quite a long time without any food. Some can even abstain from food for up to a month if they have had previously eaten a large meal. They will also not normally eat when they are preparing to lay eggs or are about to molt.

If your tarantula is eating smaller insects though, it is probably best to offer food at least twice per week. As mentioned above, remove live food from the tank after around fifteen minutes if your spider has made no attempt to capture or eat it. If there is any half-eaten food in the tank, remove it after twenty-four hours.

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When not researching and writing about weird and wonderful animals, Lisa enjoys spending time with her 'two' families: her husband and 3 kids, and her 3 dogs, Sooty the cat, Frank the terrapin, and Bob the bearded dragon.

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