If you are reading this, you are probably a patron of TarantulaForum.com and already have a passion for keeping and caring for arachnids. While your weekly routine of tank maintenance, feeding, and checking your tarantula’s humidity may feel monotonous at times, there is a vast array of fun activities you can fit into your spider care regimen to bring you back to the same level of excitement you felt when you purchased your first hairy 8-legged friend. This article will summarize just a small sample of the many creative ways you can revamp your tarantula ownership experience.

DIY Tarantula Hide

Tarantulas are often solitary creatures, meaning that they prefer to spend most of their days either burrowed in tunnels dug in the substrate, or huddled in a store-bought hide. Building your tarantula a hide from scratch can be an excellent way to both save money, and put a personalized touch into your spider’s terrarium. A basic spider hut can be created from a standard clay flower pot using the following materials:

  • 1 small serrated hand-saw or jigsaw with carbide edge (for ceramic pots)
  • 1 newly purchased flower pot made from terracotta or plastic (recommended)
  • sandpaper
  • 1 No. 2 pencil
  • 1 ruler
  • decorative foliage

Once you have acquired the materials listed above, you are already halfway to completing your basic homemade spider hut. The tarantula hut can easily be completed by following the steps below:

Step 1: Adults or children under supervision should begin by laying the flower pot on its side (It is recommended you select a plastic flower pot due to the reduced risk of breakage or cracking when cut) and using the ruler and pencil to draw a lengthwise line down the center of the pot to use as a guideline when using the saw.
Step 2: Using the hand-saw for plastic pots or powered jigsaw with an abrasive carbide blade for clay pots, very carefully cut down the line drawn in step 1 and divide the pot into 2 equal pieces.
Step 3: Once you have successfully bisected the flower pot, use a sandpaper sheet to smooth out any rough edges left during the cutting process.
Step 4: Bury the bottom half of your flower pot in your terrarium’s substrate, leaving enough room for your tarantula to easily get in and out.
Step 5 (optional): If you are willing to spend a few dollars on faux foliage from a craft store or pet shop, you will be able to decorate the outside of your newly built hide to simulate an ecosystem of your choosing.
Step 6: Enjoy!

How to Tame Your Pet Tarantula

While it is no secret that tarantulas typically do not adore being held, especially not Old-World breeds, it is important that your pet spider should be comfortable being picked up without invoking its defensive instincts. This segment will cover basic handling exercises you can go through with your spider to prepare for the unexpected including the unfortunate events that your spider needs to take a trip to the exotic animal vet, or escapes its terrarium and needs to be put back.

Step 1: If possible, set your tarantula’s terrarium on a low lying coffee table or the floor to prevent accidental injury from falling from a height.
Step 2: Throughout the span of a couple of days or weeks, gently touch your spider's abdomen or lower carapace with a gloved hand to acclimate it to the feel of your touch.
Step 3: Once your tarantula reaches the point where being touched does not induce defensive behavior or retreat, you can gently coax your spider onto your hand and gently raise it out of its terrarium, taking care to maintain a low distance from the floor to prevent fatal injury to your spider in case it jumps from your palm.
(Optional) Step 4: If you are comfortable, allow the spider to explore, crawling up your forearm and onto your shoulder, making sure that it is keeping a safe distance from your eyes.
Step 5: Return the tarantula to your palm and gently lower it back into the safety of its enclosure, and allow it to walk off your hand. You have now built a degree of trust with your spider that will allow you to perform limited handling, as well as safely transport it in situations such as a vet visit or accidental escape.

Live Plant Decor

When building your dream terrarium, you may ask yourself the age-old question that has puzzled generations of tarantula keepers, “Should I, or should I not incorporate live plants into my spider’s habitat?” While live plants can carry the possibility of spawning mold in tarantula enclosures as well as harboring pests (especially when plants from the wild are used) certain plants have exceptional resilience to pests, low light environments, and intermittent watering. The three plants listed below represent some of the safest options for those who want to bring the realism of live flora into their habitats as opposed to store-bought plastic decorations.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) also known as the devil’s ivy, is a vine-like plant native to French Polynesia. Known for being seemingly impossible to kill, Pothos’ propensity for hardiness has made it a popular houseplant and exotic habitat decoration. The plant has a low liability for mold infestation and can live with limited hydration, allowing spider owners to spend less time worrying about watering the enclosure. The vine’s resilience is also suitable for the wear-and-tear that their tarantula co-inhabitants put upon them.

Bamboo (Bambusoideae spp.) is an evergreen native to countries in Southern, Southeast, and East Asia. While commonly pictured as growing in towering formations in tropical rainforest, bamboo is also commonly found in the gardening department at home improvement outlets such as Home Depot and Lowes. Its resistance to pests and mold carries similar advantages to leafy green plants such as Pothos, however, bamboo stalks can also be dried into wood-like sticks that can be used as an alternative for those who want the aesthetic of natural bamboo without the added work of maintaining live plants in their terrariums.

The Mexican Snowball (E. elegans) is a succulent that is naturally occurring in Mexico’s semi-desert regions. This succulent seldom requires watering and should be planted with substrate in which water can quickly drain from or evaporate. The petals of the E. elegans are fleshed out, and thornless, making them a perfect option for owners of desert-dwelling tarantula species who want regionally correct plantlife without the risk of injury to the pet posed by cacti.

Pop-Culture Spider Names

Whether you are a seasoned keeper, or a parent purchasing your child their first spider, picking a suitable name for your tarantula can be an important part of the pet ownership experience. When introducing your critters to family and friends, a catchy name can be the ice-breaker needed to take some of the fear out of meeting a large spider for some people. Luckily, popular films and literature are ripe with famous depictions of spiders that are recognizable by people of all ages and walks of life. Listed are names of 5 of some Pop culture names, as well as other fun ones, that can be used to christen your new creepy crawly family member:

1. Charlotte (Charlotte's Web)
2. Shelob (Lord of the Rings, The Return of The King)
3. Aragog (Harry Potter series)
4. Miss Spider (James and the Giant Peach)
5. Spinarak (Pokemon books, video games, and tv series)
6. Ocho
7. Harry
8. Hula the Tarantula
9. Silky
10. Webster
11. Miriam

There are few examples of pets that are more captivating or diverse than tarantulas. While at times needing to limit the amount of time you hold your tarantula may seem to dampen the fun of owning these spiders, there is a near-infinite amount of ways you can diversify your terrariums and routines with your amazing pets. Today we only scratched the surface of the many amazing ways you can get creative with tarantula keeping.