The reality is that many years when tarantulas first started to gain in popularity there were really only a handful of species seen for sale in pet shops.
These days, however, things are very different. There are over 600 different species of tarantula and dozens of these may be found in the UK pet trade if you’re willing to search hard enough.
These days one can buy anything from dwarf tarantulas to giants like the Goliath Birdeater. Some tarantulas dig burrows while other live up trees. And in terms of colours, tarantulas don’t just come in brown; there are also tarantulas with yellow, blue, purple, red and more on them.
Just as importantly for the beginner there are also docile tarantulas ideal for handling and incredibly aggressive spiders that only the bravest or most suicidal of keepers opt to buy. Lastly, some tarantulas are much easier to look after than others in captivity.
These days the problem of the first-time tarantula keeper is deciding on the best pet tarantulas for beginners. Fortunately that’s where we come in. Read on to discover the four best types of tarantulas if you’re a novice…
The Best Tarantula Species for Novices
The best types of tarantulas for beginners have the following characteristics:
Docility – whether you intend to handle your tarantula or not, having a pet that is highly unlikely to try and bite you makes caring for them much simpler.
Reasonable Size – pet tarantulas are of course meant to be big and hairy, but for your first tarantula you probably don’t want something the size of a small dog (slight exaggeration). All the tarantulas featured below get to a decent size – roughly 5-6” across the legs as adults – but without needing to build them a kennel to sleep in.
Cheap to Buy – you might be surprised to hear that some passionate hobbyists are willing to pay £100 or more for some rare tarantulas. Clearly, this is no small investment, and also isn’t helped by the fact that you’re still learning what you’re doing. If you were to accidentally lose or kill such a specimen it would be a serious problem. So, while we hope that your first tarantula lives a long and healthy life, we have focused below on those species that can be bought for closer to £25-40.
The Chile Rose, also known as the Chilean Rose-Haired tarantula, is in many ways the “perfect” tarantula. Long one of the lowest-cost tarantulas in the trade, these are slow-moving, very docile and also hardy to boot. In short, they’re ideal for beginners.
The only weakness of this spider, if we were looking for one, is that it isn’t the most colourful or exciting-looking tarantula available. That said, it is our number one choice for the beginner.
Honduran Curly Hair
Second to the Chile Rose tarantula is the Honduran Curly Hair, often known simply as the Curly Hair. This species from Central America is just as docile as the Chile Rose but isn’t encountered anywhere near as often in the pet trade. On the other hand, incase you hadn’t guessed, this species gets its name from the long, curly hairs that cover its body, making it look something like a hairbrush on some occasions!
Mexican Red Knee
The Mexican Red Knee, or Red Kneed Tarantula, is in many ways the “classic” tarantula that most people have in mind. You know; the black tarantula with the orangey-red stripes on its legs? Of a similar size to the Chile Rose and Curly Hair, but with far more colour to their name. They’re also very docile spiders so can be easily handled.
The only real downside of this species is that they are an endangered species, so these days it is illegal to import or export them without a license. What this means is that all the specimens for sale as pets have been captive bred and carefully raised from babies. This can make the species far more expensive than either of the two previous options. As a result this is probably a species that you’ll either have to save up for, or buy as a smaller individual and feed up.
Pink Toed Bird Eater
There are many, many different pink toed tarantula species, but they all have a number of things in common. Firstly, they tend to be very docile and unlikely to bite. Secondly they are typically one of the few tree-dwelling tarantulas meaning that you can design an exciting “rainforest” type tank for them to live in.
They’re also very attractive. Most are a velvety black as adults with light pink ends to their ends (hence the “pink toes”). Depending on species the main black colour may be supplemented with a few hairs of different hairs such as gold or orange.
There is only one warning when it comes to Pink Toes; while they’re typically quite friendly spiders that can be cheaply bought and easily accommodated in the home, they’re also faster moving than most of the other tarantula species mentioned here.
As a result they may not be ideal for handling as you’ll need to keep your wits about you – but you can at least feel confident that they won’t bite you unexpectedly during routine tank maintenance.