Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the ownership of more exotic pets. Geckos, Spiders, Snakes, Axolotls and more. Whilst it leads to a great talking point and something potentially more interesting than your more typical pets, it can lead to significantly more questions surrounding the care of the animal.
This is seen perhaps most around tarantulas. The 8-legged creatures’ dietary requirements, living space and general care are vastly different to many other pets and can see owners scratching their heads in confusion over what they should be doing for their pet.
Thankfully, many tarantulas are very low maintenance and the cause for concern over what to do is not necessary. Many of the more common tarantulas like the Chilean Rose or Mexican Red Rump are quite happy sitting in the same space for hours at a time and only need to be given fresh substrate periodically. At the same time, the room temperature can often be more than enough to keep them suitably warm and as long as the substrate is deep, fresh water is provided and a hide is included, there isn’t much to do at all! Except for when it comes to eating. Spiders can be fussy eaters; they will only eat when they want to or feel comfortable doing so. This can mean they go months without eating at all! And this is why people get concerned. How many other pets may decide not to eat for half a year or more? Luckily if your tarantula isn’t eating, it is often, not a problem. In this week’s blog, we show you what to do when your 8-legged companion decides it is no longer mealtime!
What to do if my tarantula isn’t eating
In most cases, when your tarantula decides not to eat, there is nothing to worry about. It is just part of what they do! Sometimes it can be to do with the weather, other times it could be due to moulting and in some instances, they could be just fasting.
With many types of tarantula, a meal of one cricket per week is plenty! In others, a locust, a small mouse, or a mealworm could fill it up for weeks and it’s when you next go to put food in and it refuses it, you wonder why. Especially when there has been a week or so between meals!
The most common reasons and solutions for why your tarantula has stopped eating are shown below:
Your tarantula might be moulting
If you are new to looking after tarantulas, you may not be aware that they moult. It is what they do to grow. Before moulting, the tarantula goes into a process known as premoult where they will stop feeding. Depending on the age of the spider, the moulting process can take a few days, in others, a few months. Whilst going through the moulting they will also become weak and vulnerable so no food should be left in the enclosure at all. It could harm the spider.
You would think that after moulting a feed is necessary but keep food away for a little longer. It can take days or weeks for the exoskeleton to harden, only then should you start to feed it. Just ensure there is plenty of water in the water bowl.
Signs of premoult may include blocking off the entry to its hide or the bald spot on its abdomen may become darker.
The tarantula might be fasting
That’s right! Your tarantula may fast, the Chilean Rose does this a lot, speaking from experience, the one I owned went over 8 months without eating! There is not much known about why they do this, but it doesn’t seem to harm them. To see whether they are fasting, try putting some food in once every 2-3 weeks. If they refuse it, remove it. Just ensure the water is fresh and regularly topped up. At the same time, check the humidity of the enclosure. Each type of tarantula has differing requirements for humidity so check with experts for the particular needs of your tarantula.
Your tarantula might be full
There is such a thing as overfeeding and your spider may just not want to eat anything else as it can’t fit it in! Feeding more than twice a week could be seen as excessive, however, if your spider is a juvenile, this level of feeding would be fine. It would be recommended not to add any more food during this time. Once your tarantula reaches adult age, a once-a-week feed is suitable. As with the previous section, if you have added food and it is not taken, remove it.
The food is too big for your tarantula
Eyes bigger than your belly can certainly apply to us humans but spiders seem a little smarter. If the food seems to appear too large, there is every chance they will leave it alone. This can result in two things. The spider doesn’t eat but remains hungry or the prey is large enough to cause harm to the spider. On the opposite end of the scale, food that is too small won’t be eaten either. A golden rule is to have the food smaller than the size of the spider’s abdomen.
The Tarantula might be stressed
If you have recently rehomed your tarantula, it may be stressed. Likewise, if it has recently been transported from one climate to another, it could have found acclimatisation difficult. A combination of these two things or simply just one of them could lead your spider to stop eating.
If either has recently happened. Give your spider a week to settle in. Try feeding, if it refuses, remove the food and try again a week later.
To help decrease stress and perhaps encourage eating, make sure that if you have an arboreal species (one that climbs) it has plenty of vertical space and if you have a terrestrial species (one that burrows), that available burrowing area is deep.
Once done, consider nighttime feeds rather than daytime.
Has your tarantula stopped eating? If so, it is likely to be due to one of the above reasons. Simply follow our suggestions and you will not need to worry about why your spider is not sinking its fangs into a cricket or locust!
Should you be looking to send your tarantula to sunnier climbs or be looking for a pet transport service that can help you get your animal or arachnid to anywhere in the world, speak to us! At PBS Pet Travel, our extensive knowledge of pet transportation means that the whole process of pet relocation can be made easy.