9 things to consider before buying an Arizona Blonde Tarantula pet
Also known as Desert Blonde Tarantulas, these Arizona-native spiders can also be found in California and New Mexico. Easy to look after as well as easy to get, these spiders are one of the best types of beginner tarantula pets you can get. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do a bit of research and preparation – they are tarantulas after all.
So, what do you need to know about the Arizona blonde and how can you prepare for the challenge of having a tarantula pet? Let’s discuss the 17 most important things to know about the Arizona blonde tarantula below!
9 things to consider before buying an Arizona Blonde Tarantula pet
The main question with tarantulas is – what’s their behavior. And, as a New World species, the Arizona blonde is a very docile and non-aggressive spider. When afraid of something, the first and main instinct of this tarantula is to duck and hide instead of attacking proactively. This is what makes all New World tarantulas such amazing pets. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Arizona blonde won’t attack if she feels she doesn’t have another option.
As far as handleability is concerned, the Arizona blonde is best left alone instead of getting handled all that often. Yes, she’s a docile spider but she is still a venomous arachnid. Handling your tarantula too often will a) stress out the spider which can lead to decreased quality of life and even some health issues and b) needlessly provoke the arachnid into feeling like it needs to defend itself. At the end of the day, tarantulas are mostly for looking at rather than for playing with.
The cost of an Arizona blonde will depend on its age. Young tarantula slings can usually be bought for a couple of dozen dollars while adults can cost between $50 and $100. The reason for the price range is that raising a tarantula into an adult takes time and a lot of molting cycles. We’ll talk more about those below. Either way, this isn’t an especially pricey spider and you can easily get one for yourself.
As with most other arachnids, the two genders of this species are quite different. Female Arizona blondes can live up to 24 or even 30 years which makes them phenomenal long-term pets. Males, on the other hand, only live up to 5 to 10 years. This can be a benefit in and of itself if you only want a short-term pet. Size-wise there isn’t that big of a difference between males and females – girl Arizona blondes grow to about 6 inches (15 cm) and boy blondes – about 5 inches (12.5 cm).
Molting is a big part of looking after an arachnid – it’s the process of shedding one’s exoskeleton before growing a new one. This must be done about once per month as the spider is growing up and about once a year once adulthood is reached.
Fortunately, tarantulas go through the whole process on their own and you don’t need to do anything. In fact, you definitely shouldn’t bother them as they are molting – don’t try to help them and don’t even try to feed them as even a simple cricket can harm a molting tarantula if it gets brave enough.
Molting can take anywhere between an hour or so and several days. It’s important not to feed your Arizona blonde for at least a couple of days after the molting is complete – this will give her exoskeleton enough time to solidify.
Urticating hairs are a tarantula’s first means of defense when threatened (aside from hiding in its hole). These are a large set of tiny and sharp hairs on the spider’s abdomen that the tarantula can shoot toward its attacker as projectiles. These aren’t used for hunting insects but are the tarantula’s main defensive tools.
What does this mean for you as a tarantula’s pet owner?
Your tarantula isn’t going to shoot her urticating hairs at you unless she’s feeling directly threatened by you. If your tarantula is captive-bred instead of wild-caught she will be even more docile and safe. And, if you learn how to handle her – and avoid doing so as much as possible – you should be safe. Here’s a good video on handling tarantulas but, again – we recommend just avoiding doing that altogether.
If a tarantula does shoot you with her hairs, they can cause irritation, pain, and swelling. The only truly problematic areas they can fall are your eyes, nose, and mouth so keep your tarantula away from your face. Also, even if you don’t “get shot” you should still wash your hands and not touch your face after touching the tarantula or her enclosure.
Venom is the second weapon of the tarantula. In the case of the Arizona blonde, it’s not strong enough to harm you unless you are allergic to arachnids and insect poisons in general (such as bee stings). If that’s the case – just don’t get a pet tarantula.
Is housing two tarantulas in the same place a good idea? Not really. Tarantulas are not too territorial but they are cannibalistic. Even in a large enough tank and with plenty of food, statistically, one tarantula is eventually going to eat the other – usually during the victim’s molting period.
If you’re set on breeding tarantulas – good luck. Here’s a nice video guide but be warned that the female will be very likely to eat the male if you don’t watch over them. Even if you keep the male blondie safe, the mating process can take months until it’s successful.
So, is the Arizona blonde a good pet for you? If you’re not allergic to insect/arachnid stings, if you’re ready to do the research and the preparation, If you don’t have small kids at home (who can decide to play with the spider), and if you like these eight-legged beauties – sure, Arizona blondes may be a great long-term pet for you.
5 tips for how to prepare for an Arizona Blonde Tarantula pet
A 5-10 gallon tank is recommended for this tarantula. It can be glass or acrylic and it doesn’t need to be too tall as these spiders are not arboreal. There should be no way for the spider to escape even from the top of the tank.
For a substrate, you can use 3+ inches of vermiculite, soil, and/or peat moss. You can add some simple decorations such as rocks, horizontal branches, cork bark, etc. Half a clay flower pot will make for a good shelter until the tarantula digs herself a burrow.
You should maintain temperatures of 75 to 80o F (24 to 27o C) inside the tank at all times. You can use white heating bulbs or ceramic heaters for that purpose. Remember to add a good thermometer inside the tank to monitor the temperature at all times.
Humidity should be kept between 65 and 70%. You can use the spider’s water bowl and misting to get the humidity up or the heaters and the occasional airing out to bring it down. Get a hygrometer to monitor the humidity.
Find a vet that specializes in exotic pets near you. Standard vets rarely have experience with arachnids. Problems molting are the most likely issue you may face, followed by oral nematodes – an infection that comes with a noticeable white coloring around the mouth.
3 things for successfully keeping an Arizona Blonde Tarantula pet
For food, your tarantula is going to need some basic live insects such as crickets, cockroaches, and worms. The prey shouldn’t be larger than half the spider’s abdomen. You should never feed your Arizona blonde during or soon after molting and the prey should be captive-bred or store-brought. That’s because wild-caught insects can have pesticides on them. You can feed your tarantula once or twice per week.
The water source of your tarantula should be a shallow bowl of water – not too deep for the spider to accidentally drown in.
Monitoring your tarantula’s behavior from behind the glass is key. When you get to know the spider you’ll know what her behavior means and indicates. This can tell you when the spider is hungry (walking around, looking for food), when she’s near molting (hiding with her legs beneath her and refusing food), and so on.
These are the 17 key points we think every wanna-be Arizona blonde tarantula owner needs to know. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful in your experience with your future pet. Do you think we’ve missed something? If you think we should add something else, do let us know!