There are approximately 35,000 known species of spiders. Out of the 35,000, about 900 of them are true tarantulas. Tarantulas belong to the Theraphosidae family. They have a heavy body structure and have eight eyes on the bump in front of their bodies. All of them are poisonous to some degree, and have a tendency to bite. Some tarantula bites may seem like a bee sting.
As a pre-purchase check, It is important that you decide the size of the tarantula you are planning to have as a pet. The enclosure and the conditions within the enclosure will depend upon its size. You can also buy a baby and watch it as it grows.
Most pet shops have specialized tanks made of glass or plastic for such exotic pets. Now, the question is whether you want to recreate the natural conditions for your tarantula to live in. The answer to this question should always be 'yes', however, you will have to buy a larger tank in order to do so. The loop-side of recreating natural conditions is that, you will not get to see your pet as often as you would want to see it. In my opinion, you should have a tank without the paraphernalia, so that you can observe your pet's activities.
Cover the bottom of the tank with a 2 cm layer of vermiculite and then cover it with a layer of cocoa bark. You can buy vermiculite and cocoa bark at tree nurseries. These will help in maintaining humid conditions required for the tarantula. Use of compost in the tank is not advisable, as it needs to be sterilized and changed frequently. The humidity levels in the tank should be ideally 50-60%. It is recommended that you do not let the humidity levels drop too much below 50%, as this can prove fatal for the spider, especially during its molting phase. Humidity is conducive to the growth of molds. Hence, you should always keep a watch so that no molds grow in the tank.
The ideal temperature for rearing a tarantula is 21º-24º Celsius. If you are using a central heating system for your house and this is the temperature which you are maintaining, then you will not need a special heater for the tarantula tank. However, you might need a heater for the colder months. There are devices like hot rocks, heating mats, etc., which can be used for heating the enclosures.
When the tarantula is in its molting phase, it is important that all uneaten food be removed from their enclosure within 24 hours as small insects or crickets can also prove fatal to your pet during this phase.
Insects, specially crickets, can be fed to these pets. Some owners try to recreate the wild by feeding the spiders with a variable combination of cricket and insect diet. It is advisable that the crickets are dusted with vitamin powder, before they are fed to the tarantulas. It is not advisable to feed insects caught in the wild, as these insects might be exposed to pesticides and pesticides can be harmful to your pet.
Adult tarantulas can be fed pinky mice and small lizards as well, but remember that the mice and the small lizards should be smaller in size than your pet. You can treat your tarantula to a worm meal once in a while.
Growing tarantulas eat more than the adults. Very often, before and after molting, the adults fast, at times even for a period of two months. Hence, in case it refuses to eat, you should not force it to.
To feed your pet you will have to open the pet enclosure. Before opening the enclosure check whether the tarantula is close to the opening. If it is then you will have to gently prod it away. You will need forceps to lower the insects into the enclosure and then close it once you have given the prey to your tarantula.
Although tarantulas derive their water from their prey, it is advisable to always have a ready source of water in a shallow dish inside the enclosure. Take care that the crickets do not drown in the water by adding some stones etc., to the plate, to make it safe for the crickets.
With all the above tips, I hope you are in a better position to take care of your beloved pet!