How much does it cost to own a tarantula?
Is This Going to be Expensive? Cheap? Somewhere In-Between?
Owning a pet is will always cost more than not having a pet–it is an expense. With that said, certain pets clearly cost more to acquire, set-up a habitat for, and provide care. On a scale of, “Relatively inexpensive,” to, “Absurdly costly,” Tarantulas are without a doubt a pretty cheap pet compared to larger animals like dogs or cats.
- They don’t require much space or, “Toys,”, vet visits are not really necessary outside of check-ups if you want to pay for them.
- They don’t need shots, their food costs are pretty minimal. and the most you’ll spend at once is when you first buy everything for the Tarantula’s terrarium and the Tarantula itself.
- After that, your monthly costs will be minor compared to other pets. This all means a Tarantula is a pretty cheap pet.
This article will go into some further details about the initial purchase-cost, set-up expenses, and other aspects to consider (such as if pet insurance is a good idea or you need anti-venom) and by the end, you’ll know if you have the relatively small amount of funds needed to spare for a pet Tarantula!
The (General) Cost to Buy a Tarantula
Tarantulas can generally be bought at any local pet store including major chains such as Petsmart, PetCo, and so forth. They also can often be bought at stores that focus on more, “Specialty,” pets such as reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids. At mass-market pet stores, you will often find the most common kinds of Tarantulas sold as pets, such as Pink Rose and Curly Hair kinds. Sometimes rarer Tarantulas more suited for those skilled in caring for them will be for sale as well. In mass-market pet stores, you may be able to purchase a more common kind of Tarantula for as little as $15 after tax and some specialty stores will charge maybe $25 for more common kinds up to over a $100 for rarer kinds of Tarantulas. You also can actually buy Tarantulas online from a number of specialty stores that can (believe it or not) ship Tarantulas to you!
One thing that is important to note about buying Tarantulas is that in a number of online communities and groups dedicated to Tarantulas people have a very strong anti-pet store opinion when it comes to the mass-market pet stores. A simple Google search will reveal that these groups really believe Tarantulas are mistreated by these pet stores and often in ill-health. This can result in Tarantulas that are believed to already be in poor health or, “Traumatized,” from their time in these stores.
These groups generally feel Tarantulas should only be bought from specialty stores that treat them well or online retailers who have positive reviews and pride themselves on treating their Tarantulas properly as well as shipping them carefully. You may end up paying a bit more shopping at a specialty store or a respected online retailer, but the chances are you Tarantula will already be in better health and live longer–plus you won’t be encouraging pet stores to purchase more Tarantulas to buy and arguably mistreat.
Before we get too carried away, if you’re thinking about getting a pet spider, you may want to take a look at our article The Three Best Spiders to Keep As Pets.
A good terrarium for a Tarantula is generally a 5-10 gallon aquarium. When younger and smaller 5 gallons can be superb, but a larger Tarantula will arguably feel most comfy in 10 gallons. These can cost generally $25-$50. Then in an Aquarium, you’ll want to have some dirt (best to purchase from a pet store so it is free of possible issues compared to if you dug it up outside), perhaps some plastic plants, and substrate (Coco Fibre is most often the #1 choice), which allows them to dig or make little hiding-spots. Also, a little water dish, All of this can easily be bought for around $10 so when it comes to setting-up your Tarantulas enclosure you will most likely not spend over $100 on everything to get a basic setup in place.
Whether to Add a Heating Lamp or Heating Pad
As long as your house is generally a comfy room temperature of at least 70 degrees to up to around 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) you do not really need a heating lamp or heating pad. Should your home at times get relatively cool that may cause the Tarantula to slow down a bit, but a house that feels 68 degrees for a couple of hours overnight is honestly no big deal as long as the temperature inside the terrarium does not fall too much (and with the greenhouse effect Terrariums will generally be warmer inside than the room outside). If things might be getting really chilly in your house for some reason, it might be okay to have a heating lamp or heating pad, but they must be carefully monitored so that the Tarantula’s enclosure does not possibly get too hot and harm it, or gets overly dry (some humidity is good for Tarantulas). Should you choose to get a heating lamp or pad they can be as cheap as $10 or cost a lot more if you get a fancier kind of lamp or pad.
Other Accessories Worth Your Money
Tarantulas like to be able to hide in warm and dark spots, so having pieces of driftwood, cork-bark, little hollow logs, or even a small hollowed-out coconut can be a great addition to a terrarium for very little cost. You do not want to have anything too tall that the Tarantula can climb-on as it could possibly try to escape at the top of the terrarium or in the process of climbing could fall and be injured. Besides some nice little homey touches like these, there really is not any fancy accessory you need for your pet Tarantula. They do not, “Get bored,” like some pets and are simply content in an appropriately warm, humid, and lit enclosure where they are well-fed. Fancy toys are gizmos are just not needed. You can always make a Tarantula’s enclosure appealing to human eyes with fun flourishes like a decorative castle or a cute statue, but it is no big deal to your Tarantula whether it has some decor or simply a plain-but-comfy home.
The Types and Cost of Food
The majority of Tarantulas are happy to subsist on living insects that are the appropriate size for the Tarantula to eat. Crickets that are gut-loaded (meaning they have been recently fed), mealworms, cockroaches all work fantastically. These can generally be fed to Tarantulas once a week and are very inexpensive, easily less than $5 a feeding. Some of the largest Tarantulas can be fed mice that have been frozen and thawed or even theoretically live mice, but that should be less common, kind of like a special treat.
Potential Veterinarian Costs
Before considering the possible veterinarian costs for a Tarantula the main problem can be even finding a vet who is willing to work with Tarantulas. A number of vets do not care for Tarantulas, only having training in regards to helping people bitten by Tarantulas. Should vet work with Tarantulas you will want to inquire on the kind of services they offer and what such services can cost. The honest truth, however, is that it can be hard to tell outside of an in-depth check-up if your Tarantula is ill. Simply put, vet fees can vary widely if you are able to find a vet to care for your Tarantula and besides check-ups, it may die without warning if it does fall ill for some reason.
Deciding on Pet Insurance
Pet insurance costs can vary, but on average for cats and dogs, it can run around $300 a year and covers a hefty percentage of possible medical procedures. It can be higher for purebred cats or dogs and less for others, but generally, if it is used it can be a great investment. After all, medical care for pets can become more expensive as pets age or possibly have health issues. However, considering that Tarantulas can be a relatively inexpensive pet and it can be difficult to know if they are actually having a health issue, just molting, or getting older. Should it be apparent your Tarantula has a health issue the question after that becomes if you can find a veterinarian who cares for arachnids which can be hard to locate depending on your region (as mentioned above)? Then you would consider the cost to care for your Tarantula which could cost a great deal. With all of that to consider when it comes to if you would even use pet insurance for a Tarantula, it may not be wise to look into pet insurance for one.
While it may be possible to acquire low-cost pet insurance for a Tarantula and any pet–dog, cat, bird, tarantula, and so forth–can be close to your heart and valued by you deeply, the fact is it can be difficult to tell the difference between a healthy and content Tarantula versus a sick one. Your pet Tarantula may sadly die before you ever could realize it needs medical attention. Unlike a cat, dog, or bird it is not easy to see if your Tarantula is ill. Due to the fact you might not ever even use pet insurance for a Tarantula, it is arguably best to not worry about getting any.
It’s quite possible that you’re getting a little worried about potential injury from your pet tarantula… take a minute to read Do Pet Tarantulas Bite? and maybe it will answer some of your questions.
Whether You Need a Supply of Anti-Venom or Not
The short answer is no, but it is worth a longer answer to break-down some possible concerns and precautions. Basically, assuming you are handling your pet Tarantula responsibly the chances of it ever biting are in fact quite minimal. A pet Tarantula should only feel the need to bite a human if it perceives danger/feels threatened or is otherwise stressed or anxious (over-handling or rough-handling can cause this, for example). Should a Tarantula, in fact, bite, however, what then?
While different kinds of Tarantulas can have varying toxicity of venom, in general compared to most other spiders a Tarantula’s venom is much weaker in regards to humans. A Tarantula’s bite can sting from the fangs sinking-into the flesh, and some will actually, ‘Dry Bite,” as a warning of sorts without releasing venom. Should venom be released a bite may have some localized swelling, itching, and otherwise feeling unpleasant for a week or so. Usually, a Tarantula bite does not require medical attention as long as it continues to hurt less and look better over time (e.g. if an infection occurs or it looks awful still two weeks later a doctor is needed).
It should be noted that just as sometimes humans have allergic reactions beyond a normal degree to something (e.g. some people go into anaphylactic shock if they are exposed to peanuts or a usually-harmless bee sting can trigger anaphylactic shock in some people as well) it is possible for a person to have a severe allergic reaction to a Tarantula bite who had no clue their body would react in such a way. Should someone be bitten by a Tarantula and anaphylactic shock occurs they need to be given their epi-pen immediately if they carry one and 911 should be called without delay?
The species most commonly found for sale in stores or online (such as Pink Rose, Curly-Haired, Pink-Toed, and so forth) are the least dangerous and some rarer and more expensive Tarantulas can pose a bit more of a risk in regards to irritation or nasty reactions, but beginners generally won’t be working with Ornamental Tarantulas or such.
One more common issue to be aware of that can cause irritation in humans is urticating hairs. These are hairs that can literally be ejected/shot-off of a Tarantula as a sign of aggression/irritation/if feeling defensive that is not nearly as dramatic as a bite, but these, “Flicked hairs,” can cause some skin irritation or itchiness.
Basically, you do not need anti-venom if you have a Tarantula as a pet. However, should you be aware of the possibility of a severe allergy happening if you or someone you know could be bitten, it is smart to possibly have an epi-pen on hand. As long as you treat your Tarantula carefully and don’t give it a reason to want to bite you should be fine, however. It is always better to be safe than sorry, of course!
As was said at the start, all pets cost money. However, compared to other pets Tarantulas clearly cost a lot less. Besides the expense of buying a Tarantula and the initial set-up of its terrarium, they are a pretty low-cost and low-maintenance animal that also takes up quite a minimal amount of space. Should you want a pet that won’t break the bank, Tarantulas clearly fit the bill!
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