Tarantula First Aid – Creating an ICU

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Your Tarantula First Aid! Tarantulas suffer from very few illnesses and seldom get sick unfortunately there are not many exotic vets that would even take in a sick tarantula let alone help you with them. With this post we would like to share some common things you can do yourself to help your tarantula should something ever happen to it.


Creating an ICU:

The first thing you need to know how to do is creating an ICU (Intensive Care Unit). This is a must know how for any intermediate to expert tarantula hobbyist.

Step 1: Make sure you get a deli cup or plastic dish with matching lid. Make sure this is big enough to easily fit your biggest tarantula. Make sure to also puncture small holes for some air ventilation on the side of the cup/dish and a few on the lid.

Step2: Grab a few pieces of paper towels and lightly mist them with water. You are going to pack them nice and tight  at the bottom of your plastic cup/dish. This will allow your tarantula to feel nice, soft and secure.

Step3: What we also recommend is to add a small water dish filled with fresh clean water to the ICU should your tarantula need it.

Step4 (optional): In the event that you need to keep humidity levels up we do recommend you setting your ICU near a humidifier. This of course being optional is still a great recommended tip.


When to use an ICU:

There are certain scenarios where using an ICU will be your best option for your tarantula.

Dehydration: This can quite often be the easiest thing to overlook. Even desert species tarantulas can get dehydrated. A key sign of a dehydrated tarantula is a mildly shrunken abdomen. In worst cases a severely dehydrated tarantula will also have its legs curled up under him/her and even appear sluggish. Simply place the tarantula in the ICU cup and make sure the water dish is close to its mouth or even place its mouth in the water dish. You should not be alarmed as tarantulas breath from their book lungs situated on the underside of their abdomens and not mouth. Keep their abdomen away from the water source. We recommend you keep the tarantula in your ICU for about 12 hours at most while checking up on it every few hours. Your tarantula should be back to normal and make a full recovery within 24 hours.


Bad/Wet molt or trauma resulting in fluid leak: Arachnids use non muscular moving functions and rely on blood pressure and fluid (“blood”) to move limbs. Bad or wet molts happen to even the healthiest of tarantulas with no scientific explanation as to why. Should your tarantula experience a wet or bad molt immediate induction into an ICU would be your best bet. These same rules apply should your tarantula hurt itself by either a puncture wound or even a fall and starts to lose fluid. Make sure your tarantula drinks plenty of water to replace the fluid lost due to the wet/bad molt.


This will be the start of our Tarantula First Aid series as we give you other helpful tips and tricks for your tarantula in the event of an accident. Do you have questions about your tarantula? Simply ask away. We will be more than happy to help you.

How to set up your own feeder roach colony

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How to set up your own feeder roach colony! As your collection of Tarantulas gets bigger and bigger you will notice that the need for feeding them does as well. Most of you end up purchasing large quantities of crickets as those are always readily available at any time at your local pet store. Crickets do not live long and it is a pain and heavy maintenance to keep them alive as you can imagine a small group of 5 grown tarantulas alone can end up taking you trips to the pet store weekly to buy more and more crickets! Your easier alternative is a simple feeder roach colony! Some of you might be thinking eew cockroaches! But in reality roaches will end up benefiting you a lot more in the long run then crickets every will!

As acknowledged by the A1 Bed Bug Exterminator | Charlotte North Carolina, your crickets will either: die easily, smell bad, create unwanted noise, jump and if they escape become hard to catch at times, chew through clothes and plastic and more importantly will not stand still for you to grab and give to your tarantula. All of this can make feeding your tarantula unpleasant at times.

Your cockroach however: are big in size and produce a more nutrient filled diet for your tarantula, do not produce much of a smell unless you stick your head directly into their enclosure, do not make noise, dont fly, cannot climb on smooth plastic or glass, are slow moving and can easily be picked up and given to your tarantula and most importantly live longer and are so much easier to breed.


So what do you need to get this colony started?

  • Plastic bin with a lid that preferably clips shut
  • Egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and or paper towel rolls
  • Heating pad (optional)
  • Roach food (such as vegetables, fruits, stale cereal, store bought cockroach food)
  • water dish with water crystals


In this tutorial I used a 50 gallon clear plastic bin that I purchased at Target for $10. Now the only “labor intensive” part of this job which is how I ended up doing this and it seems to be working well is simply drilling small holes at the top of the lid and on the top sides shown in the pictures below.



As you can see very simply and standard. As for what is really needed in the bin you will need just your egg cartons, paper towel rolls and or toilet paper rolls. Position them nicely in a way that your roaches will have something to hide under as they love darkness. Make sure in the center of it all you will have enough space to add their food source and a water dish, I personally use water crystals as they have been working well for me but if you see just normal water does the trick for you then you can stick to that. As for food source I typically keep my cockroaches (in this case B.dubia roaches) on a steady nutritious diet of leafy greens carrots and on occasion a piece of fruit. Reasons why I normally stay away from fruits is that if left in there for too long it will surely be a source of mold which can easily kill your colony. Cockroaches are not picky with food and eat vegetables just fine. As you will see below you can set up the bin however is best for you.

IMG_1332 IMG_1336

As you can see at this point your bin is ready to be filled with B.dubia roaches. You can keep stacking up more and more egg cartons and paper towel rolls as you place more roaches in. You can buy a starter roach colony online for about $15 dollars. Within weeks you should have a healthy roach colony that will keep reproducing. What I like doing is buying two colony starters one from one company and one for another company to make sure they are different breeding families.

My roach colony is in a specific dark room where the temperature is high for my tarantulas, if that is not the case for you, you can add a heating source such as a heating pad but be cautious and make sure that your plastic bin is heat resistant to prevent a fire.

These simple steps will easily help you with your own roach feeder colony. It will end up saving you time by not making trips to keep purchasing crickets and in the long run will save you quite a bit of money. As always if you need help ask away, we will be more then happy to guide you with your roach colony 🙂

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What is Molting?

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Molting is the method your tarantula uses in order to grow. They are exoskeletal  which means they shed their outer skin in order to become larger or to regenerate body parts. The molting process is very long and at times stressful for your tarantula. In this segment we will explore the signs your tarantula is giving you that it is about to molt and what all you can do to make sure it is a triumphant one.

For those of you who are first time tarantula owners please do not be alarmed when you wake up in the morning or come back home from work or school to see your tarantula on its back not moving. Your tarantula is not dead but has simply started its molting process. There are many horror stories all through the web of people dumping their tarantulas out thinking that the pet passed, if anything a tarantula that passes will never go on its back to die. Your best bet is to simply let it be.

You will find that the younger the tarantula the more it will molt. With slings (spider-lings) molting as much as 4-6 times a year as opposed to an adult tarantula molting maybe 1 to 2 times a year. There is no real way of calculating exactly how fast or how much your tarantula will molt. Of course the more you feed it, the faster it grows, the quicker it molts.


Signs that your tarantula will molt soon:

  • The easiest sign of them all is your tarantula’s abdomen turning very dark in color. You will also notice a bald spot on this abdomen (do not be alarmed this goes away after its molted). It also becomes dull in color.
  • Your tarantula will stop eating. The refusal of food is natural, with some tarantulas going weeks without an appetite before a molt.
  • Your tarantula will be inactive / slow. They become very much sluggish.
  • Your Tarantula will also start spinning a web that it lays on the floor of its enclosure as some sort of bed for it to lay on while going through its molting process.


This is all natural and though you may be worried please know that your pet is perfectly fine.


The Molting begins and what to do after it ends:

The molting itself can take hours and hours, anything from 8 to 24 hours. There is no specific time as to how long this will take for your specific tarantula. The key thing is to not disturb the animal in any way or you might risk it causing harm to itself or even death. You will see that your tarantula will slowly be pushing itself out of its old exoskeleton while flexing and stretching its legs. Once the entire process is done (which as mentioned can take a day or so) it will flip back up on its feet and you will see some slow movements as it gets its new skin stretched out to its new size.

At this point your tarantula is still very fragile and you should leave it alone for at least another week. Make sure you give it plenty of water so it can rehydrate. Please do not try handling your tarantula at all during this time. It’s exoskeleton will slowly start to harden again until its back to normal. The great thing is its beautiful new color(s) and bigger size. After said week you can try feeding it again (we recommend just one cricket at a time to make sure its fangs are hardened enough to feast on prey).


A wet or bad Molt:

Though these are rare and there is still no real explanation for them they do tend to happen. Some speculation is that it could be due to injuries sustained by your tarantula making it leak body fluids during its molt. Your tarantula not receiving insufficient nutrients and enzymes due to a poor diet. Stress due to an interruption during the molting process. And lastly your tarantula simply molting before its new exoskeleton is sufficiently mature.

Your tarantula can also remain stuck in its old exoskeleton. Should you encounter this it is best to try making a homemade ICU for your tarantula with a plastic container and a damp towel to put the tarantula on. Do not leave your tarantula on it for more then 12 hours. It is just temporary. As a last resort for this you can try helping your tarantula shed its skin by slowly and gently with the help of a tweezer and damp Q-tip removing the old carcass slowly from its new skin. We do recommend you doing this ONLY if you have experience with tarantulas before and know somewhat as to what you have to do.


Checking its Gender:

If you did not know your tarantula’s gender yet, post molt would be the best time to find out. Assuming your tarantula is big enough to have a decent size exoskeleton, you can check the abdomen of the old molt which spread open should have 2 white pairs of book lungs (breathing organs), between the first pair of book lungs you should see the epyginal plate, if you do then you have a female tarantula.


We hope that all of this has been helpful for you – If you do have any further questions feel free to drop a comment below even if its just to say hi.