Tarantulas are known to be low-maintenance pets. Only requiring a feeding twice every month, some can go for 7 months sans food without showing any signs of distress.
Though venomous, a tarantula cannot kill a human with its bite, and would only inflict discomfort similar to that of a bee sting.
The cost will mainly come from the price of the tarantula itself and on how much you want to spend on its habitat. This article will provide you with the list of essentials in creating a proper shelter as well as factors to consider when buying a tarantula.
One-Time Cost of Owning A Tarantula
Tarantulas generally cost from $20 – $200, but some sites sell even higher or lower depending on the rarity of the genus, and their size.
The following are some of the immediate costs aside from the pet price:
- Shelter Costs
Tarantulas require a relatively humid habitat so they are usually kept in terrariums. Shelter size is based on the leg span of the spider and it is recommended that the smallest dimension should be 3*leg span by 2*leg span by 1*leg span.
You may want to buy a bigger cage right from the start so you will not have to reconstruct a new home every time your spider molts. An 18″ x 18″ x 24″ tall cage for an arboreal tarantula or a 24″ x 18″ x 18″ wide cage for a terrestrial tarantula will cost $131 to $143.
When buying substrate for the cage, avoid vermiculite or coco coir because these materials are hard to manage in terms of water content as well as difficult to burrow on. A 100% natural substrate made from sphagnum peat moss, fine sand, and bentonite clay will cost $12 for 7.57L.
A 3.5″ x 3.1″ x 1.2″ faux rock water dish with steps and a non-porous surface will cost $2. You can use other small bowls for water but make sure they are heavy enough and stable so they will not tip.
If you buy an arboreal tarantula, you will need a décor where it can climb and build its nest on. An 18”x10”x6” natural grapewood vine branch with different smaller branches will cost $12.
A hideaway will also be useful when the tarantula wants to hide or feels threatened. A round natural cork bark about 12 inches long with an 8-inch diameter will cost $12.
You should also invest in a smaller cage for transportation or a place to hide the tarantula when you are cleaning its shelter. An 11.8″ x 7.7″ x 5.7″ plastic breeding box with a feeding door will cost $19.
What are Included?
When you buy a tarantula, it will be stored in a small plastic container. If it is a small one, then the container will be a pill vial. You can keep the spider or spiderling in that vial until it reaches a molt that makes it too big for the container.
Recurring Costs of Owning a Tarantula
- Food Costs
Adult tarantulas can be fed once a week or even less while spiderlings can be fed more often. They do require live food and in this case, crickets are the best choice because they contain more nutrients than mealworms and cannot burrow into the substrate.
However, crickets are hard to ship. Banded crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus) are better for shipping because they are more durable and can manage temperature spikes.
A box of 500 1/8-inch banded crickets for smaller tarantulas will cost $20 while a box of 500 1-inch banded crickets for bigger tarantulas will cost $25.
Do not expect all the crickets to be alive when they get shipped to you, but those that do survive will last a couple of weeks when stored in a container or tank with proper temperature and moisture.
If you order a surplus of crickets, you will have to feed them to keep them alive. In proper conditions, the crickets will even breed. Gut loading will also make them a more nutritious meal for your tarantula.
A gallon of cricket feed which also contains a vitamin and mineral premix will cost $17.
- Hygiene Costs
Tarantulas do not need to be bathed in soap, nor require any brushing. You do have to clean the cage and the replace the substrate at least once every three months. Tarantulas are not messy eaters and excrete a quick-drying fluid that has no smell. The water bowl must be cleaned daily to prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.
- Medical Costs
There are veterinarians that check tarantulas but none truly specialize on these invertebrates. Studies regarding them are also scarce, so treatment procedures are limited.
Adding to this is the fact that tarantulas easily die from an injury to their bodies due to their soft exoskeleton, which means that the pet will be dead long before you reach the vet. However, if the injury is on their leg, they can self-amputate and regenerate the limb.
Considering all these, tarantulas do not require an extensive medical regime, unlike other pets.
The size, age, and genus affect the price of the tarantula. The size is measured in leg span, similar to the diameter of a circle, measured from the tip of one leg to the tip of the opposite leg. This will be measured in inches.
Sometimes, this exact measurement will not be provided and you will only be able to choose between the relative “small”, “medium”, and “large”. For the same genus, a bigger tarantula will be more expensive.
You may also be given the option to buy an adult tarantula or a spiderling. Spiderlings are cheaper and will give the owner the pleasure of seeing them molt into adulthood. However, these are harder to care for. They can die by being eaten by their live food, by molting, or from other accidents. Adults are more expensive but are easier to take care of. Again, for the same genus, an older tarantula will be more expensive.
The genus can be put simply as the “breed” of the spider. Tarantulas from other countries or those with beautiful coloration will fetch higher prices than common or local breeds with plain coloration.
Related to the genus is the way the spiders live in their environment. Arboreal tarantulas like to climb and build nests on trees while terrestrial tarantulas like to stay on the ground. Some terrestrials even burrow.
Although this does not directly affect the pet tarantula price, this will affect the way that the shelter is set up, and ultimately, its cost. Arboreals will need a taller terrarium and a decor that they can climb while terrestrials that burrow will require a deeper substrate of about 6 inches.
In some shops, you can choose your preferred gender but note that sexing is difficult and can be inaccurate. The gender of the tarantula does not affect the price. However, a female tarantula will significantly live longer. Females can live over 30 years while males can only live up to 7 years. This difference in lifespan may incur differences in the cost of taking care of the pet.
Where to Buy and Other Useful Tips
Blackwaterreptiles sells popular tarantulas like the King Baboon Tarantula with a 2-inch leg span for $40. They also sell rare and expensive spiders like the Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tarantula for $200 for a 3-inch leg span and $125 for a 1-inch leg span spider.
You can pick whether you want a male or a female. As well as tarantulas for sale, they also have a complete shelter kit for tarantulas but this will cost an additional $40.
You have to consider that there is an additional flat rate of $45 for the shipping of the live tarantula.
Undergroundreptiles sells tarantulas at low prices like the Pinktoe Tarantula which costs $20 for a spider with 2-3 inch leg span but also sells more expensive ones like the Mexican Redknee Tarantula which costs $85 for a spider with 2-3 inch leg span. You cannot choose the gender from this shop.
You can also have feeder crickets and cricket food shipped with the spider (not on the same container) for $15.
Lastly, tarantulas are not meant to be handled. A lot of things can happen when they are let out of the cage. The most common outcome is that they run away and hide in a nook where it is harder to take them out. They may become aggressive and bite. They can fall from tables or other platforms and these accidents can easily rupture their abdomen.
These are “all look, no touch” pets. Unless you have a lot of experience with tarantulas, keep them in the terrarium, for the safety of the tarantula and yours.