Keeping a tarantula as a pet certainly isn’t for everyone, but some species will make surprisingly good pets. The most popular kind is the Rose Hair Tarantula, also known as the Chilean Rose Tarantula. This is mostly because they’re attractive, docile and easier to care for than most of the more run of the mill pets out there – looking after them is very straightforward compared to cats or dogs for example.
If you’ve never had an exotic pet before, a Rose Hair Tarantula would be an excellent choice. This is not only because of the aspects mentioned above, but also because of the wealth of available information about them in books, online and elsewhere. They strike a good balance between being unusual enough to be different but being kept by enough people to make them cheap, readily available and well studied.
One natural concern about caring for a pet arachnid is the potential danger involved. Many people don’t realize that tarantulas are often far less dangerous than much smaller spiders, and the Chilean Rose Tarantula is no exception. This species is more likely to run away from a threat than to act defensively, and will only very rarely bite. If they do bite, the amount of venom injected is very small and it isn’t particularly potent, so this isn’t serious unless you are allergic.
As these creatures come from the deserts and scrubland of South America (Bolivia, Chile and Argentina to be specific), they should be kept in a warm environment and they can be kept in relatively low humidity. Catering for these requirements is straightforward – a basic heat mat can control the temperature simply and effectively, and allowing the water dish to overflow a couple of times a week should provide sufficient humidity.
Rose Hair Tarantulas don’t take up very much space and can easily fit into all but the very smallest of apartments. A 10 gallon terrarium should definitely be large enough, and they are often kept in smaller tanks as well. Many Rose Hairs will use burrows in the wild, and so a simple small shelter should be provided to keep your pet happy – even a coconut shell or flower pot will do nicely.
The normal diet for a pet Rose Hair is gut-loaded crickets, two or three of which should be given to an adult tarantula every week. They don’t have regular feeding schedules, and can even be fed just once a fortnight and then left alone, as they will naturally gorge themselves when they have the opportunity in case of a famine to come.
The decision to buy a Chilean Rose Tarantula should not be taken lightly, as some will live for twenty years or more, but rest assured that they are easy to look after and are very unlikely to cause you any problems. They’re also a brilliant talking point, and are the perfect arachnid for your first exotic pet.