Tarantula First Aid – Creating an ICU

Care Sheet, First Aid, Information 1 Comment »

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.

Trinidad Chevron Tarantula (Psalmopoeus cambridgei)

Old World, Psalmopoeus 1 Comment »

The Trinidad Chevron Tarantula is a New World majestic tarantula from the tropical areas of Trinidad and Tobago. Loved due to their great chevron marking on their abdomens these animals spend most of their time up in trees blending in with their environment. They tend to make silk tubes in trees/leaves to live out in. Average growth for these animals tend to be about 4 to 5 inches with males living to be about 2 to 4 years and females living close to 12 years. As they grow from spiderlings (slings) to adults they tend to change colors looking more colorful as juveniles.





The Trinidad Chevron Tarantula is an arboreal species and it spends most of its time suspended on tree limbs and plants. They are not known for being on the ground and we would recommend an enclosure that has more height then it has length or width. Of course we would recommend it being at least between 12 to 16 inches in height. The floor of your enclosure should have some sort of coconut fiber with at least 2 to 3 inches of very damp substrate. Humidity is key as they require 80% or better humidity with a temperature of about 78 to 85 degrees. Beware of stagnant air as this can certainly end up killing your tarantula so be sure to keep the enclosure well ventilated. You should have enough bark or plants for it to climb and spin its web on. As always a fresh shallow water dish should always be overfilled with clean water. A great tip would be to perhaps glue the water dish to the bark on in the enclosure so that your tarantula does not have to climb down to drink.



The Trinidad Chevron tarantula is a decent eater, as most tarantulas all it really requires would be crickets, cockroaches, locusts or even fruit flies. It is highly unlikely that you can overfeed this species but only feed it once a week a couple of insects at a time.



These are fast and aggressive tarantulas and we do not recommend handling them. Though they can sit on their bark all day not moving they tend to be extremely fast. They do not have urticating hairs and rely in their bite and venom as a primary defense. There are even stories of these tarantulas attacking their own molt.  Caution should be applied when maintaining their enclosure.


This would be a great tarantula for the intermediate/expert hobbyist getting their first old world tarantula. They require rather low maintenance and do not cause much problems. However due to their temperament we do recommend not handling them.

What is Molting?

Care Sheet 5 Comments »

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.