Husbandry

A few thoughts before purchasing

When it comes to housing conditions, opinions often differ. In addition to the materials that are used (enclosure, substrate, plants...), the conditions of your own environment must also be considered. In a land of snow and ice, you have to choose different tactics than in the tropics. While a European can keep the animals at room temperature in summer, he has to heat the apartment accordingly in winter to keep the necessary temperature. The air humidity drops accordingly and more water has to be made available. Ultimately, every owner is obliged to find out about the origin and the conditions there (weather, rain, temperature, etc...). In the following we only want to show our three basic considerations for keeping spiders and convey them using example pictures. It is clear that tastes are different, but our way of keeping them also works (for us)!

Considerations beforehand:

 

Which type do I want to keep (does the spider live underground (fossorial), on the ground (terrestrial) or on trees (arboreal)?

Fossorial spiders don't need much space above the ground, but all the more substrate. Accordingly, an enclosure with a suitable opening and ventilation must be offered. Terrestrial 8-legged creatures require hiding, both burrowing and moving space, while arboreals prefer vertical climbing opportunities and also appreciate hiding.

 

Where did the Arachnid come from and what are the conditions there?

Is the natural habitat dry or does it rain a lot, what are the temperatures, what environment do the animals prefer (forest, caves, etc.)?

Is keeping this species allowed in my country?

Not every species is legal worldwide. In certain German federal states, for example, animals of the genera Poecilotheria and Phoneutria may not be kept without a special permit.

It is best to inform yourself before making a purchase and prepare everything. If you have any questions about specific housing conditions, we will be happy to help if possible. just use the contact form!

Tapinauchenius rasti 0.1 in an enclosure that is taller than it is wide because it is an arboreal species.

As a rule, each animal needs its own terrarium, as it is a loner. Exceptions are newly hatched animals, mating processes and individual species living in groups. Many containers are suitable as enclosures. The spider doesn't care whether you choose a classic glass terrarium or a simple PVC storage box. It depends on the content. And here we primarily mean sufficient substrate (we usually use so-called turtle soil and sprinkle vermiculite underneath), as well as climbing and hiding places. Personally, we prefer real plants with fewer requirements, as they help to maintain a certain level of humidity (hence the vermiculite). The spider itself does not need plants, nor does it take up much space.

Arboreal enclosure examples

 

A hiding place (wood or cork) and plants give the spider security and avoid stress. The substrate and plants keep a certain amount of moisture in the terrarium. On some lids, I replaced the metal gauze with perforated plastic to avoid pinching the arachnid's legs.

I use these enclosures for Araneomorphae like Cupiennius and Heteropoda. These species also like to go up. The clay terrarium is for cave dwellers such as Viridasius.

 

Terrestrial enclosure examples

 

Spiders that live on the ground need a lot of substrate, since most of their representatives also like to dig. The last enclosure is inhabited by a Lycosa tarantula, which also digs deep burrows.

 

Fossorial enclosure examples

 

One thing is particularly important here: SUBSTRATE! Fossorials spend most of their lives underground creating large burrows (systems) in nature. Holes near the bottom prevent waterlogging.

 

Examples of rearing enclosures

 

There are hardly any limits to the imagination here. The enclosures should have good ventilation and still be escape-proof!

There are very good terrariums from various suppliers, which are only suitable to a limited extent due to one fact. The lid consists of a kind of metal gauze in which the claws of the spiders can get caught. However, these can be easily removed and replaced with plastic glass. Mam drills a few holes for adequate ventilation and glues the lid frame to the plastic glass. Another alternative is to create a lid in a 3D printer. Appropriate templates can be found online.

Left: A lid frame from the 3D printer. Right: Original frame with clear PVC and drilled ventilation holes.

A good meal...

 

Zophoba's superworms are more suited to large tarantulas.

Drosophila are suitable for the very small and young spiders. They are unable to fly, tiny, and easy prey.

...is only a good meal if it's still alive. Since spiders are hunters, they prefer live prey. While there are isolated observations where spiders have actually eaten various vegetables, a vegetarian diet will not promote successful husbandry. Injured and very young spiders can be offered pre-killed prey. The food of the arachnids is best adapted to the body size. The prey should not exceed this under any circumstances, but there are exceptions here too. Some Araneomorphae slay larger prey as spiderlings, although this is not a concern of the 8-legged friend! So here too you can offer a smaller insect as food and the spider will still develop. Suitable for all spiders that we care for: house crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers, cockroaches and so-called superworms (in the appropriate size). If the food is not accepted for more than 24 hours, it makes sense to remove it. Maybe a molt is coming up. In this phase, the spider is briefly defenseless and (immediately after moulting) soft, so that in the worst case the hunter becomes the victim and the prey feasts on the spider. This in turn can result in death or injury to the arachnid. Personally we don't see any point in fattening our fosterlings, rather it is desirable that they don't grow too fast as this can increase their lifespan significantly.

Well-fed animals (admons are slightly larger than the shell) easily get through the month that the keeper may be away on holiday (this is mainly true for tarantulas, Araneomorphae for example prefer much more regular feeding - after all, their lifespan is much shorter , compared to tarantulas), but can last a longer period of time without care (although you should consider shortening your vacation to two weeks).

If you don't have "ground police" like springtails in the enclosure, you should regularly look out for leftover food and remove it with tweezers. Mold has no place in the terrarium!

Whether you buy food animals in the store or breed them yourself is up to you, but the food must also be fed! Vegetables and salad are used here. One must not leave the offered food with the future prey for too long, otherwise there is a risk of mold growth here too.

However, you should not offer insects that you have caught yourself, otherwise you may have more life in the enclosure than you would like.

Depending on their size, crickets are nutritious food for spiders.

Drosophila (fruit fly) breeding approach.

Light, temperature and humidity

 

First off: there are also exceptions, deviations and differences on this topic - as with all others. See the following lines as an exchange of experiences, not as instructions or rules!

In the 1980s and 1990s, the subjects of light, temperature and humidity were so poorly communicated that the misinformation of the time is still widespread. At that time, keeping tarantulas was equated with keeping reptiles in many respects. There was (and still is) specialist literature that recommended keeping spiders with aquarium gravel and heating mats, for example. You should spray several times a day. No! Please don't do that, don't follow the negative example. Nowadays we know that humidity is not a priority, spiders are much more flexible than we thought. Although tarantulas like Theraphosa or araneomorphae like Heteropoda should never be kept dry, their needs can be met through observation and reasoning. As already mentioned in the topic "enclosures", find out about the original habitat of the spider and then trie to simulate it accordingly. Adequate humidity is better achieved with sufficient soil substrate, mixed with vermiculite if necessary, one or two plants and appropriate ventilation. Add water to the substrate, but not until the soil is wet - this usually only leads to unwanted mold growth - but reasonably damp. Not every corner has to be watered. It is sufficient for the animal to be able to go to a slightly irrigated place if necessary. If the soil accidentally got too wet, you simply wait longer before moistening the next time and let the substrate dry out for a short time. Plants are also a good indicator here. If they don't die, the moisture content seems good. All of our 8-legged friends have a water source in the form of a small bowl (glass tealight holders work well) and while this is not often the case, we have seen spiders drinking. The bowl is cleaned / filled at least once a week, so you can guarantee that no animal will dehydrate.

On the subject of light, one can say: daylight is always enough for arachnids, it makes almost no demands here.

Simple tea lights make excellent water dispensers.

An example of a suitable LED light source.

Since we also like to observe our animals, we always light up our enclosures. We use LED lights (originally intended as cabinet or drawer lighting) and attach them above the terrariums. One of these lights is 3 watts and has two nice side effects: they give off some heat (1 to 2 degrees Celsius up) and are enough to encourage plants to grow. So it is not a big challenge to ensure sufficiently good conditions in winter without resorting to heating cables, heating mats or heating lamps. If we heat the house in winter, the humidity in the area will of course also drop, which means that a little more water will get into the terrarium. In Europe it is possible to guarantee a room temperature of 22 to 23° Celsius even in winter. In fact, this is enough for most animals, although in summer, when temperatures rise, you can see how active the spiders become.

Proper ventilation is necessary to avoid waterlogging and mold. There are several methods, for example chimney ventilation (air enters through openings at the bottom and exits through openings at the top) or the very popular cross ventilation (air exchange takes place via the side walls of the enclosure - genera like Avicularia clearly benefit from this). There are also terrariums where the lid is completely permeable to air, which is also perfectly fine with certain species, but these enclosures dry out faster. It can be problematic when rearing spiderlings if the ventilation is insufficient. You have to make the holes in the small cans big enough for enough air to flow, but small enough so that the sling doesn't escape. In the end you can say that over time you get a feeling for all the necessities. Until then, it's better to keep an eye on the arachnids and invest a little more time - after all, it's something you always enjoy doing!

All of this works for us without any problems, with all the species we keep. You just have to try and maybe you will make mistakes. Those who learn from mistakes have not made them for nothing!

If you have any questions about these topics, please use the contact function!