What Should I Feed My Tarantula?

Tarantulas have grown in popularity in the last few years, which is excellent! Depending on the species they don’t require too much effort to care for. They don’t need too much space, are very quiet, and are also pretty easy to feed. 

“You mentioned feeding… what should I feed my tarantula?” 

Let’s get into that! In today’s blog, we’ll let you know what tarantulas eat in the wild, what you can offer them at home, and how often to do so. 

Tarantulas in the Wild

As insectivores, a tarantula’s natural diet is made nearly entirely of, well, insects. However, tarantulas are opportunistic. They will attack anything that’s the right size. Tarantulas have been known to eat other spiders, small rodents, lizards, and even birds!

The Goliath bird-eating tarantula species made a name for themselves by taking down birds. Though, even for these spiders, birds are a very rare meal.

Something interesting is that tarantulas are not able to digest solid foods.

Okay, so this is kind of gross, but also pretty cool: tarantulas regurgitate digestive enzymes when biting their prey. Venom is released via their fangs to immobilize and kill the prey while the enzymes help to break down the solids into a liquid. They have very “sucking” stomachs which then let them drink the food. 

What Should I Feed My Tarantula In Captivity?

The tarantula diet can be a simple one to replicate since all they need are insects. Thankfully, those are pretty easy to come across! Just make sure your feeders are NOT coming from outside. Wild insects can carry pesticides, diseases, and other harmful substances that you don’t want your pet tarantula exposed to.

Here are the best feeders for tarantulas:

  • Crickets
  • Dubia Roaches
  • Hornworms
  • Locusts
  • Mealworms
  • Silkworms
  • Superworms

Crickets, locusts, and dubia roaches for tarantulas are three favorites. Dubia roaches are considered to be the best out of the three. They are less likely to bite and have high natural nutritional value.

These insects are easy to gut load. Gut loading provides great nutritional value! This is very important when feeding tarantulas because they rely on getting all nutrients from the insects they eat. The worms can gut load too! They just tend to be higher in fat. 

All prey is best fed live. Tarantulas rely on sensing vibrations in the air or through their webs to detect prey. Any movement helps.

Your tarantula may avoid the prey if it’s too large. They can sense this through vibrations, too! Just make sure insects are no longer than your tarantula’s abdomen. 

Oh, and don’t forget to provide 24/7 access to clean water in a shallow dish!

How Often Can I Feed My Tarantula?

This will vary depending on the age, size, species, and temperament of your tarantula. You can monitor your tarantula care by monitoring your tarantula’s abdomen.

  • A healthy tarantula should have an abdomen that is full and round. It should be the largest body part, just not so large that your tarantula is having a hard time moving around. The abdomen should not be shriveled and small either. 
  • Keep in mind the abdomen will grow before molting and shrink after molting. This is normal! When any issues persist outside of molting is where there’s a problem. 
  • Your tarantula may go on a hunger strike when molting. Do not fret! This is also very normal.

What Should I Feed My Tarantula?: Feeding Young Tarantulas

Slings, or baby tarantulas, can eat 2-3 times a week. Sometimes less often if the prey item is larger. Note: for smaller slings, flightless fruit flies can be fed but make sure they only come from a reputable source. 

Juveniles can move to larger prey and be cut back to once or so a week.

What Should I Feed My Tarantula?: Feeding adult tarantulas

Adults can eat anywhere from once a week to once a month. It all depends on how big the prey is, if they take more than one prey at a time, etc. 

At any age, a prey item that is too large may be offered if freshly killed. Just be sure to wiggle it some! And don’t forget to remove any insects that have not been consumed or killed within 10-15 minutes.

No Need to Dust a Tarantula’s Meal

As we mentioned, tarantulas get their nutrients from insects. Now, when thinking about “What should I feed my tarantula?” you might be tempted to use supplements. 

Don’t bother.

Tarantulas have an exoskeleton instead of bones. This means they don’t need as much calcium as a bearded dragon or leopard gecko would. Besides, tarantulas don’t even eat the exoskeleton where the supplements would be.

What Should I Feed My Tarantula?: Can I Feed My Tarantula Reptiles and Rodents?

Technically… But feeding your tarantula small reptiles or rodents is not a good idea. Reptiles and rodents can bite and cause real damage to your tarantula. Animals are to especially be avoided for this reason.

And there is debate in the community that the calcium from bones may cause issues with molting. Plus, dealing with the mess if your tarantula doesn’t eat fast enough would be…not fun, to say the least.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of owning a tarantula is watching them hunt. Some are slow and are borderline gentle while others take down prey so fast you might miss it if you blink. Buy some dubias, superworms, or mealworms and figure out what type of hunter your tarantula is!