12 Important Things to Know Before Getting Curly Hair Tarantula
Curly hair tarantulas are one of those spider pets that you can just sit and watch in awe for hours. Their well-rounded and fully black bodies are covered with quite long and curled bristles that tend to have a golden or brown color. This gives these spiders their distinct gorgeous look and name.
Are they actually a good pet, however? Is this a spider you’d really want to put in your terrarium or is it just something to watch pictures of? We’ll discuss the 22 main things to know about the curly hair tarantula below.
12 key points to note before getting a Curly Hair Tarantula pet
The natural habitat of this spider is Central America. This means two things – 1) the curly hair thrives in warm climates and 2) she’s a New World tarantula.
Like other New World tarantulas, the curly hair is quite docile and calm. This isn’t the type of spider that will just attack you for no reason or will lunge at your hand whenever you try to change her water. Instead, when the curly hair gets nervous or scared, her first instinct is to just hide and wait the danger out. This makes the curly hair a very safe and beginner-friendly tarantula to have.
Does this mean that handling this tarantula is simple and recommended, however? Not exactly. Even though she is a docile and unaggressive spider, the curly hair doesn’t like to be handled needlessly. So, it’s recommended to just avoid handling your spider – at best she’ll just get stressed out, at worst she may feel threatened enough to retaliate.
Even though this is both a gorgeous and an exotic spider, curly hair tarantulas are quite affordable. Most go for anywhere between $20 and $50 depending on their age.
In terms of size, these spiders usually grow up to 5.5 inches or 14 cm when adult, including their legs. This isn’t small but isn’t as large as many other tarantulas either.
One drawback of this spider is her relatively short lifespan. Female curly hair tarantulas live for about 8 to 10 years while males usually die after 4 years. Granted, 10 years is on par with most dog breeds but it’s short compared to other tarantulas. That being said, if you prefer a short-term pet, the curly hair becomes a good choice.
Molting is a big part of a tarantula’s life. This is the act of the tarantula shedding her old exoskeleton and growing a new one as she gets bigger. Young curly hairs will usually molt every month while older ones will do so once a year. The molting process can take anywhere between an hour and several days.
The good news is that you really aren’t expected to do anything while your spider is molting – just let her be. If there’s any live prey left in the tarantula’s tank when molting begins, you should remove it immediately as it can harm your spider. In fact, it’s recommended to not feed your tarantula for at least a couple of days after molting to give her exoskeleton enough time to solidify.
Your tarantula’s urticating hairs are her first mode of defense. These are not the curly hairs the tarantula is named after but are tiny and sharp hairs on her abdomen. The spider can launch these hairs toward her attacker as a defensive mechanism. When hitting the skin, these hairs can cause pain, swelling, and itching.
The urticating are really only dangerous is they get in your eyes, mouth, and nose, however, so you should keep the spider away from your face when handling her. Also, remember to wash your hands and not touch your face after interacting with your spider or her enclosure.
Venom is both a defensive and an offensive tool for the tarantula. As a New World species, the curly hairs’ venom isn’t potent enough to harm a grown human being. Keeping kids away from the spider’s tank is a good idea, however. Also, if you’re allergic to bee stings you may be one of the rare few who are allergic to tarantula bites too and you probably shouldn’t get a spider pet.
Is it a good idea to get more than one tarantula in the same tank? Usually no, it’s not. These spiders aren’t particularly territorial so, in theory, a large enough tank and an abundance of food should keep them at peace. However, tarantulas are cannibalistic. So, even if you keep them well fed, chances are that one tarantula will eat the other sooner or later – likely during the latter’s molting period. The easy solution here is to just get a second tank.
Does this mean that mating your tarantulas is not an option? Not really – mating curly hair tarantulas is possible but complicated as the females tend to eat the males. You will need to keep the female very well-fed and calm at all times. Here’s a good instructional video but be warned that the process can take months.
So, is the curly hair tarantula your perfect future pet? That depends – if you’re not allergic to their bite, if you don’t have small kids (<10 y.o.) at home, and if you’re ready to take care of a spider, the curly hair tarantula is a gorgeous pt to have.
7 important ways to prepare for a Curly Hair Tarantula pet
A 5-10 gallon tank is usually sufficient for these spiders – it should be at least 3x times as wide as their maximum legspan. These are terrestrial spiders so you don’t need to care much for the tank’s vertical dimensions. For materials, you should use glass or acrylic – even as terrestrial spiders, curly hairs can climb on stiff such as wire mesh.
You should seal your spider’s tank properly if you want to avoid escapes. Some tiny breathing holes are a good idea but nothing the spider will be able to get through. Keep the top of the tank sealed as well as possible.
For substrate, you can use chemical-free potting soil, peat moss, and/or vermiculite. Coconut husk can also work. The substrate should be some 3-4 inches deep at least to allow the tarantula to dig her burrow.
The tank’s environment should be simple and not too extravagant. A few pieces of wood, a few rocks, and half a clay pot for hideout are usually enough. Of course, feel free to add anything as long as it doesn’t obstruct your tarantula’s living space.
You should maintain temperatures of 75 to 85o F (24 to 29o C) using a heating white bulb or a ceramic heater. Use a standard thermometer to keep an eye on the precise temperature.
Humidity levels inside the tank should be kept around 65 and 70%. The spider’s water bowl will usually be enough to support these levels but you may need to mist the tank from time to time too. Use a hygrometer to measure the relative humidity 24/7.
You’ll need to find a vet near you who has experience with exotic pets such as tarantulas. These spiders are quite healthy but you don’t want to lose your tarantula to some annoying molting problems or an oral infection such as nematodes.
The 3 keys for successfully keeping a Curly Hair Tarantula pet
Feeding a curly hair tarantula is surprisingly easy – all you need is 1-2 meals of life insect prey a week. These will typically include crickets, mealworks, cockroaches, and other similar insects.
The prey should be half the size of the spider’s abdomen and it should always be live. Use captive-bred or store-bought insects only as wild-caught ones are often covered in pesticides. And, again, remember not to feed your tarantula when it’s molting. Here’s a cool video on feeding a tarantula.
A curly hair tarantula should satisfy her thirst easily with a water bowl. All you need to do is change the water daily and make sure the bowl is shallow so that the tarantula doesn’t accidentally drown – spiders aren’t really great swimmers.
If you insist on handling your curly hair, there are two main ways to go about it. One is to grab them by their back with two fingers – the perfect spot is between the second and third sets of legs. The second way is to gently nudge the tarantula from behind so that she climbs onto your hand or arm. This is only recommended for experienced tarantula owners who know if and when their arachnid pet is calm and unaggressive. Here’s a neat video on handling tarantulas.
Curly hair tarantulas are one of our favorite pet arachnids for many of the reasons above. They make for very interesting pets for the right owner and are one of the most gorgeous types of tarantulas. Would you say they are suitable for you, however? And is there something else you wish we mentioned?