Tarantulas can make wonderful pets. They are exotic, fascinating creatures that require much less attention than a dog or a cat, or even a tank of fish. Many species are hardy enough to require minimal care, and they always make great topics of conversation. Nevertheless, novice pet keepers should be careful about deciding what kind of tarantula to get, as some species can be aggressive or inordinately delicate. Here are some recommendations on the best species for beginning tarantula keepers.
- The Honduran curly hair tarantula (Grammastola albopilosum). Pet store employees typically recommend the Chilean rose hair tarantula, but I?m going to defy popular opinion here. In my judgment, the Honduran curly hair tarantula makes for a better pet, provided that one doesn?t mind some extra expense. Like most common pet species, these are gentle, incredibly docile creatures. Unlike the Chilean rose hair tarantula though, these have very hearty appetites. Admittedly, they tend to be more expensive than the rose hairs; however, spiderlings can typically be purchased for a pittance (often from $3 to $6 each), and due to their ravenous appetites, they grow rather quickly.
- The Chilean rose hair tarantula (Grammastola rosea). This is the most common pet store variety. They are likewise gentle and easy to take care of; however, they have this annoying habit of fasting for months on end, which can be most aggravating. Still, they do make wonderful pets for beginners.
- The Mexican red knee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi). This species, along with the Chilean rose hair, is commonly used in movies and on TV. It is likewise very docile, and much more colorful than most pet store varieties. In my experience though, its hairs tend to be a bit irritating to human skin. In addition, due to its popularity, it has become a restricted species; that is, harvesting them from the wild has been made illegal. As a result, they tend to be on the expensive side.
- The Mexican blonde tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes). Another docile wonder. For a while, this species was not readily available for sale, but it has been making a comeback. Most pet stores still do not carry this variety, but it is often available via mail order.
- The Chaco golden knee tarantula (Grammastola aureostriatum). Easily one of my favorites! These specimens are not as colorful as the red knee tarantula, but they can be distinguished by the gold-colored bands on their legs. They also have impressive legspans (up to eight inches or more!), but their frightening size is belied by their utterly sweet dispositions. However, because they are relatively new to hobbyists, they tend to cost more than other tarantulas.
- The Brazilian black tarantula (Grammastola pulchra). These also tend to be on the large side. This is not a colorful species; however, their satiny black carapace gives them a sleek, elegant look. This variety is almost as large as Grammastola aureostriatum, with a legspan of 7 to 8 inches.
- The Costa Rican zebra tarantula (Aphonopelma seemani). This one is a bit harder to take care of than the previously mentioned species, but it?s still a treasure. These tend to be a bit skittish though, and so handling them is not recommended. They do not typically bite, but they are prone to running away, and like most tarantulas, they can be easily injured in a fall.
About the author:
V. Berba Velasco Jr., Ph.D. is a senior electrical and software engineer at Cellular Technology Ltd, a biotech company that provides ELISPOT expertise, CEF peptides, serum-free media and cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). CTL has offices in Ohio, Europe, China and Japan.