24 Crucial Things to Know About the Pumpkin Patch Tarantula
If you are looking for a cool, gorgeous but also safe tarantula pet, there are few better than the Pumpkin Patch Tarantula. These small 8-legged beauties are very docile and friendly, and they are not nearly as aggressive or defensive as other tarantulas. Widely viewed as “beginner-friendly”, Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas can turn even reluctant folks into T-lovers in a matter of days.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fair bit of research you’ll need to do. Most of the basics will be familiar to you if you’ve owned tarantulas before but if this is your first time, you’ll need to get familiar with how to look after a tarantula. So, here are the 24 crucial things to know about the Pumpkin Patch Tarantula before getting one home.
13 things to consider before buying Pumpkin Patch Tarantula as a pet
- Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas’ natural habitat is Colombia which is also why their scientific name is Hapolopus sp. Colombia. This should give you an idea as to what kind of climate these spiders are used to in the wild.
As for the rest of their name, “hapalo” means “simple” and “pus” means “foot”. This can be a bit confusing as these tarantulas are nowhere near a foot large – to the contrary. These spiders’ common name, however, is much more logical – they are called Pumpkin Patch Tarantula because of the gorgeous orange and black coloring on their backs that looks exactly like a pumpkin patch.
The “simple” part of these spiders’ scientific name is very accurate too as Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas are very easy to look after. You’ll see from all the points we’ll list below that these easy-going tarantulas are excellent even for first-time spider owners.
Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas are also quite affordable. The price can vary depending on their age and size but you’ll rarely see a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula being sold for more than $25.
Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas are usually also called “Dwarf tarantulas”. This refers to their small size which is much tinier than most other tarantulas.
These spiders come in two sub-types. One is called Groot or Large and the females of this species can reach 4 inches or 10 cm in Diagonal Leg Span (DLS). The other sub-type is called Klein, i.e. Small and these tarantulas can only grow up to 2.5 inches or 6 cm.
There is also a size difference between the male and the female of this species. As is the case with many other arachnids, females are typically considerably larger than males. More importantly, female Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas tend to live to as much as 10 years while males usually die in 3 or 4 years max.
This means that most hobbyists focus on female Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas as these can stick around for much longer. That being said, if you do want something smaller that’s also less of a time commitment, male Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas are a good option.
Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas are very docile and non-aggressive spiders, especially for tarantulas. Where other tarantulas would assume a defensive posture when threatened, the instinctive reaction of Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas to an adversary is to hide in their burrows. This is a big reason why they are so beginner-friendly – it’s very difficult to get a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula to attack or bite you.
These tarantulas have urticating hairs like most other species. However, the urticating hairs of Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas are much shorter and less harmful than the similar hairs of other tarantulas.
If you don’t know what urticating hairs are, these are tiny and sharp body hairs that the tarantula can “shoot” out of its body as a defense mechanism. They don’t do this to catch prey but just to defend themselves. This is usually a problem for new tarantula owners but not with Pumpkin Patch Tarantula as these spiders almost never shoot their urticating hairs at humans. Instead, they prefer to just hide.
This doesn’t mean that you should just forget about their urticating hairs, however, It’s strongly advisable to never bring a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula too close to your face and eyes as you don’t want these urticating to get into your eyes, nose, or mouth, even if it’s accidentally. Another good piece of advice is to always wash your hands after handling your tarantula or working with its environment. Don’t touch your eyes or face before you’ve washed your hands and everything will be fine.
Like all other tarantulas, Pumpkin Patches molt from time to time. They will usually molt every month when they are young and then they’ll only molt once a year when they reach adulthood. Male Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas reach adulthood around their first year and females – when they turn two. This is quite a fast aging process for a tarantula.
Can you keep two or more Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas in the same tank? You can try but it’s not a good idea. If the terrarium is big enough the two Pumpkin Patches won’t get into each other’s way as they are not too territorial. And, if you keep them well fed they probably won’t start looking at each other as prey right away.
However, these spiders are cannibalistic. So, chances are high that even if you keep them well-fed and in a large tank, sooner or later one will eat the other even just as a snack. Given that these spiders molt from time to time, the accident will most likely occur as one of the two is molting and is defenseless.
So, even though you can certainly try it and even succeed for a while, statistically it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll lose one of the two spiders eventually. And, if you want to breed your tarantulas, here’s a good instructional video you can start with.
Is this tarantula’s venom dangerous to humans? Not really. Being both a dwarf tarantula and a New World tarantula, the Pumpkin Patch’s bite is very light and harmless. Besides, as we said, it’s very unlikely that such an accident will happen in the first place.
So, how do you figure out if the Pumpkin Patch Tarantula is the right spider pet for you? Well, for one, if you do want a spider pet, then the Pumpkin Patch Tarantula is almost certainly for you as it’s just that easy to look after and care for. If you are a bit more experienced and you do want something bigger and more challenging, however, there are other tarantulas that aren’t as beginner-friendly.
How to prepare for owning and looking after a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula pet – 7 things to get done ahead of time
The first thing you’ll need to prepare for your Pumpkin Patch is its tank. Adult female Groot Pumpkin Patch Tarantulas can be kept in 2.5-gallon tanks with ease. Going a bit bigger than that can be even better for the spider but isn’t strictly necessary. Juvenile spiders can be kept in even smaller tanks and slings (baby) Pumpkin Patches can be kept in 30 or 50 dram vials.
About half of the enclosure needs to be full of substrate as these tarantulas love to burrow. The smaller the enclosure, the more of it needs to be full of substrate (three-fourths when we’re talking about small vails).
As for the substrate itself, we recommend a mixture of coconut fiber, a bit of dirt (for firmness), vermiculite, and peat moss. You should prepare this in advance and get it ready for your tarantula’s arrival. It’s also a good idea to keep one half of the substrate dry and mist the other half from time to time.
To get your tarantula’s burrow ready to get going you can place a piece of bark for its initial hiding place.
You should make your Pumpkin Patch’s habitat even more Columbia-like by adding branches, rocks, and plants to it too. There are thousands of plants and decoration options you can choose as long as the substrate isn’t just left barren.
It should go without saying that your tarantula’s enclosure should be very well sealed. These spiders are quite small for a tarantula and you may be surprised by what small holes they can get their bodies through. Of course, when it comes to keeping sling Pumpkin Patches in small vials you will need to put small ventilation holes in the vial. They just need to be small enough for the tarantula to not be able to pass through.
You’ll need to maintain a temperature range of 78° to 82° F (25.8° to 27.8° C) for this tarantula to thrive. It’s generally advised to just aim for 80o F or 26.8o C at all times. This way small fluctuations won’t be a problem.
To achieve this it’s best to use a white incandescent heat bulb. You’ll also need a precise thermometer which you should check every day.
Humidity is also important. Fortunately, Pumpkin Patches do well in a wide humidity range – anything between 65% and 90% is fine for them. 75% seems like the nice median range most of the time, however. Misting is the easiest way to increase the humidity and airing the terrarium – to decrease it. Get a hygrometer to help you always know the exact relative humidity levels in your tarantula’s enclosure.
Find a veterinarian with experience dealing with tarantulas near you. Yes – tarantulas need vet visits too, from time to time. The two most common causes of concern include trouble molting and oral nematodes. The latter is an oral infection that can be identified with a decreased appetite and a white coloring around the mouth. A vet will typically remove those manually after sedating the tarantula with anesthesia.
How to keep a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula pet - 4 key tips for success
Once you’ve set everything up and you’ve got your Pumpkin Patch into its enclosure, it’s time to worry about the food. For a sling tarantula, the best recommended food are wingless fruit flies. Once the tarantula goes over half an inch in size you can introduce baby crickets into the diet. You can keep going with crickets and roaches after that.
The size of the prey should generally never be larger than half the size of the tarantula. Weekly feedings are usually ok for this species. Here’s some cool footage of a Pumpkin Patch being fed.
Feeding should be ceased while the tarantula is molting. Pumpkin Patches typically get done molting in a matter of an hour or a few hours, however, the process can sometimes take days. You should never introduce prey into your tarantula’s enclosure as it molts as the spider is vulnerable in that period. A cricket can easily harm a molting tarantula as unlikely as that sounds at first.
If your tarantula starts molting while there is still uneaten live prey in the enclosure, you should remove the prey as soon as possible. Generally speaking, if a prey is left uneaten in 24 hours you should remove it anyway.
Tarantulas can drink water both from the droplets on leaves and branches around them and from surface water. So, it’s best to both put a water bowl in your tarantula’s enclosure and mist the terrarium occasionally so there’s water on the vegetation. Many Pumpkin Patch owners report that their tarantulas never use their water bowls. Others, however, report that their spiders use their bowls regularly.
- Handling a Pumpkin Patch is much easier and safer than it is with other tarantulas. It is done in much the same way, however. There are two general methods for doing so:
Pick up the tarantula by its back. The safest place is between the second and third pair of legs or right in the middle. When you do that firmly with your thumb and index finger the spider will freeze into place and wait for you to place it somewhere else.
Once you’ve gained your tarantula’s trust you can also just nudge it to crawl onto your open palm or into another container. Do this only once you’re sure that your tarantula is 100% comfortable with your presence and hands.
So, does this all sound manageable? Are you ready for your first tarantula? Or, if you have more experience – these do sound quite easier to look after than other tarantula species, right?