How to Care for a Texas Brown Tarantula

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Females can live for over 30 years in captivity.
Females can live for over 30 years in captivity. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

The Texas brown tarantula, also known as the Oklahoma brown tarantula, is one of the easiest-to-handle species of tarantula. They are laid back and don’t require a huge amount of space, making them suitable pets for first-time owners. Taking care of your tarantula is crucial for a happy pet and a happy owner. Good care and attention can be the difference between a tarantula that thrives and one that deteriorates.

Things You'll Need

  • 5- to 10-gallon terrarium or aquarium
  • Substrate
  • Heating mat
  • Thermometer
  • Shallow water dish

Place a 1- to 3-inch-deep substrate in the bottom of a terrarium or aquarium which has a cover for the top. The substrate can be peat, sterilized potting soil or vermiculite, but never use wood chips as these can be toxic to tarantulas.

Place a hiding area on top of the substrate. The hiding shelter can be a pot on its side, or a hollowed-out log, which you can find at most pet stores.

Place a heating mat underneath the tank. The heat mat should be around half the size of the terrarium's base so that only half of the enclosure is heated. A heat mat is essential, as a Texas brown tarantula’s natural habitat is relatively hot. Make sure that the enclosure maintains a temperature of between 70 to 75 degrees F, by measuring with a thermometer.

Feed your Texas brown tarantula insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and locusts. Four to six large crickets a week is adequate. Tarantulas do not need to be fed frequently like other pets, so once or twice per week is enough. Any food which is not eaten after 24 hours must be removed from the enclosure. Provide a water dish which the tarantula can fit in, but it must be shallow.

Do not handle your tarantula. Although docile, Texas brown tarantulas do not like being picked up. When distressed, tarantulas may repeatedly brush their abdomen and release loose hairs, which can cause irritation to humans. Tarantulas are fragile, and picking them up can result in damage to their legs. Minimal handling will also greatly reduce the risk of a bite. The venom from the bite is not very strong and will produce a similar reaction to that of a bee sting. However, as with bee stings, some people may suffer an allergic reaction.

Clean the terrarium once every six months by replacing the substrate and cleaning the terrarium with hot water. As tarantulas produce minimal waste, their enclosure does not have to be cleaned frequently.

Every so often a tarantula will go through a process called molting, whereby they shed their outer layer of skin. During this process the tarantula will lie on its back completely motionless. It can take up to 24 hours to complete. Never disturb a tarantula during the molting process as it can be harmful to them. After they have finished their molt, you must wait until their new skin has hardened before feeding them again; this can take a couple of weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are bitten and notice a rash or any redness or swelling, seek medical attention immediately.

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