How to Catch a Tarantula

Be gentle when catching a tarantula.
Be gentle when catching a tarantula. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Whether you choose to collect a tarantula for observation or to keep it as a pet, developing a pitfall trap is an easy way to capture this ground dwelling spider. Within North America, many species of tarantulas inhabit deserts and grasslands. They can be identified by their burrows lined with silk and rock debris. Since tarantulas are nocturnal, it's best to set-up a trap prior to nightfall. Tarantulas can bite and have urticating hairs. A tarantula can brush hairs from its abdomen into your face when it feels threatened. Caution should be taken when handling this species after capture.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden trowel
  • Empty soup can
  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Four small stones
  • Piece of flat wood
  • One large rock
  • Eye goggles
  • Forceps
  • Large plastic container
  • Lid

Dig a hole with a garden trowel that can contain the empty soup can. Position the hole in an area tarantulas frequent.

Ensure that the soup can is level with the surface of the ground. This stops the tarantula from detecting any ridges which could prevent the spider from falling into the trap.

Camouflage the opening of the trap with a thin layer of leaves, twigs or other natural debris.

If it's raining or likely to rain, create a shelter that will appeal to the tarantula and keep rain out of the trap. Place four stones around the perimeter of the trap. Lay a piece of flat wood on top of the stones. The wood should extend beyond the opening of the can at least two inches on all sides.

Place a large rock on top of the wood to prevent it from being blown off the perch of stones.

Wear eye goggles when checking the trap. Once the trap catches a tarantula, use forceps to transfer the animal to a container with a lid. Gently grasp the tarantula between its thorax and abdomen.

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