Tarantulas may not be top of everyone’s list for a household pet, but for those with a soft spot for the eight-legged creatures, they can make great companions – particularly the Curly hair Honduran tarantula. The curly hair tarantula, also known as the ‘wooly tarantula’ is a slow-moving and beginner friendly tarantula, named for its characteristically thick and furry body. These guys are found in the jungles of Honduras and north-eastern Costa Rica and are one of the more common pet tarantulas on the market.
So what does it take to care for a Honduran curly hair tarantula? You’ll be happy to know that curly tarantulas are very easy to look after, since they’re fairly mellow in their nature and require little maintenance once you have set up the appropriate living conditions for them. Be wary though that while they are docile creatures, they can bite and they do not like to be held, so they will therefore not make suitable pets for young children.
For those of you who have always wanted to own an eight-legged furry friend but weren’t sure where to start, the curly hair tarantula is a great way to get you started on your spider collecting journey. Before you rush to pick one up from your local pet store though, let’s first take a look at what makes the Honduran curly hair tarantula tick and what you can expect from taking care of one.
How Long Do Honduran Curly Hair Tarantulas Live?
The life expectancy of the Honduran curly hair tarantula varies wildly between the sexes – male tarantulas can live to between 8 and 10 years in captivity, whereas females can live up to a staggering 20 to 25 years in comparison! The lifespan of curly hair tarantulas in the wild remains largely unknown.
How Big Does a Curly Hair Tarantula Get?
The body of an adult Honduran curly hair tarantulas can reach between 5.5 to 6 inches in length, including its legs.
Curly Hair Tarantula Color
Curly hair tarantulas have a dark brown, dark blue-ish body and the short curly hairs that cover the body are golden, giving them an overall golden-bronze sheen. The male tarantulas are often lighter bronze color than the females.
Are Curly Hair Tarantulas Docile?
Yes, curly hair tarantulas are very docile and peaceful creatures around humans, but do not like to be handled (they are the kind of pet to be observed rather than held). Other than becoming agitated from being held, a curly hair tarantula will not respond well to being sharing its enclosure with other tarantulas, as they are solitary creatures.
Are Curly Hair Tarantulas Poisonous?
These tarantulas are a venomous species, but thankfully not to humans. Their venom is very mild, and unless you are allergic, their bite will feel no worse than a bee sting.
How Fast Do Curly Hair Tarantulas Grow?
They can grow alarmingly fast! A young curly hair tarantula or ‘spiderling’ can grow 3 inches in a year – this is half of their adult body size, which reaches around 5.5-6 inches in length. Feeding them a steady diet of crickets every week will ensure their healthy growth (more on feeding your curly hair tarantula below). Curly hair tarantulas will reach maturity at around 3 to 4 years old (males can mature slightly younger than this).
Are Curly Hair Tarantulas Nocturnal?
Yes, they are naturally nocturnal creatures, as this is when they choose to hunt. Curly hair tarantulas are opportunistic predators and will wait in their burrows for passing prey of insects and small vertebrates. Tarantulas rely on their sensitive leg hairs to pick up on vibrations from above to alert them of passing prey, and once detected, they will rapidly shoot out of their burrows to catch a meal.
Do Curly Hair Tarantulas Bite?
They are docile creatures and rarely bite, but curly hair tarantulas can and will bite if they feel threatened. Thankfully, the venom in their bite is very mild so – presuming you are not allergic – the resulting reaction will be similar to that of a bee sting. Before resorting to biting, they may use their defense mechanism of flinging their ‘urticating hairs’ towards the predator or person they perceive to be a threat, These urticating hairs are on the sides and back of the tarantulas abdomen and can be flung or dropped if they are stressed.
Can You Hold a Curly Hair Tarantula?
Though they are a peaceful and docile species, handling a curly hair tarantula is not usually recommended. They are easily spooked and if they were to squirm in your hold, there is a danger they could fall to the ground and be killed. As pets, curly hair tarantulas are better to observe than handle. Some may tolerate being handled as they mature, but this should only be done occasionally.
How Many Eyes Does a Curly Hair Tarantula Have?
Like all tarantula species, curly hair tarantulas have a total of 8 eyes – these are made up of 2 larger main eyes in the middle which are surrounded by 2 sets of 3 eyes on either side. Despite possessing multiple eyes, tarantulas have surprisingly poor eyesight which can only detect variations in light and dark. However, this is all a tarantula needs to assess its surroundings (with the help of vibrations to allow them to catch prey).
Do Curly Hair Tarantulas Make Webs?
Yes, they make webs, but not for the reason many other spider species do. Curly hair tarantulas can spin silk, but rather than use this to make a web and catch their prey, the curly hair tarantula will use the silk material to line their burrows and protect their eggs – more of a home decor feature for tarantulas than a weapon it seems!
Do Curly Hair Tarantulas Burrow?
Yes, curly hair tarantulas are a naturally burrowing species. Whilst in their natural habitat in the jungles of Costa Rica and Honduras, they will create their own burrows once they mature a little and will lie in wait for their prey whilst in their burrow, relying on the vibrations picked up by their sensitive leg hairs to alert them to nearby prey.
Caring for Curly Hair Tarantulas
If you’re considering buying a pet curly hair tarantula, read through the following to be sure you can provide for everything they need from the tank size to their feeding and humidity requirements…
Temperament of curly hair tarantulas
As above mentioned, the curly hair tarantulas have a mellow, easy-going temperament and will rarely bite humans or show aggression (unless they feel threatened). They may perceive a threat by being held for long periods or handled incorrectly i.e. poked and prodded by a child so it’s best not to handle them often, especially younger tarantulas.
Curly hair tarantulas are a solitary species and as a result, they should never be housed with a second tarantula. Sharing their space with another tarantula (even for the purposes of breeding) can be very risky and is best left to professional tarantula breeders. This is because unreceptive females can be aggressive around males and may even try to kill and eat them if the approach.
It’s important that your tarantula has more floor space to explore than height when it comes to their habitat, so be sure to get a 5 to 10 gallon terrarium. Tarantulas aren’t big climbers, so for their safety, tank walls should only be as tall as the spider’s leg span (around 5-5 ½ inches) and the width of their tank should be 2-3 times wider than their leg span – so a terrarium of 11 inches wide or more will be suitable.
Since they like to burrow, make sure to place a 3 to 4 inch layer of soil, peat moss or vermiculite at the bottom of their terrarium. Coconut fiber I also a good choice as it doubles up as a good humidity controller inside of the enclosure.
Also, once you have picked out the perfect size terrarium for them, don’t forget to add suitable décor to your tarantula’s new home! Curly hair tarantulas love to hide and burrow, so make sure they have an area or two to do this. A small tube made of Cork bark makes a great spot for them to hide and feel safe, plus cork bark won’t promote bacteria or mold growth.
Food & Water
in the wild, curly hair tarantulas will prey on insects, small birds and lizards for a meal, but once you’re keeping them as a pet, they can get a similar level of sustenance from a daily diet of gut-loaded (pre-fed) crickets, locusts, meal worms and cockroaches – but crickets are the most common feeder insects of choice. In their spiderling stage before they reach the age of 3-4, your tarantula should be fed at least 2 small crickets a week to help them grow. As adults, they can be fed larger crickets – or prey of a similar size – once a week.
NOTE: never leave live feeder insects in the terrarium with your tarantula when they are molting or for several days afterwards. When tarantulas molt (shed their old exoskeleton), their new bodies are so sensitive that prey animals left inside their habitat could injure them, so remember to never feed them live insects when they are in this vulnerable state.
As for their water needs, your curly hair tarantula will get most of their hydration from their food sources, but you should also provide fresh water for your tarantula too. Place a shallow dish no deeper than the lid from a jar of Mayo or pickles in their terrarium and make sure they have access to it – a water dish any deeper than this could pose a drowning risk to your tarantula and its food!
Common health issues with tarantulas are related to their nutrition, and if you’re wondering how you will be able to spot signs of poor nutrition in your tarantula, this will be obvious by the shape and appearance of its abdomen. If their abdomen is starting to appear shriveled or has begun to resemble a grape-like shape, then it’s time to feed them an extra cricket or two each week. Likewise, if their abdomen is looking bloated, you’ll need to cut back on their weekly food supply.
Equally, look out for signs they are dehydrated – if your tarantula is moving slower than usual and their body has a shriveled appearance, be sure to spray mist their habitat more frequently and ensure they have adequate access to their water bowl. There is no specialized tarantula vet to tend to your sick pet, so it’s important that you are careful with how much you are feeding them on a weekly basis and that they are checked regularly for health signs.
You should always make sure your curly hair tarantula is in good shape from the get go. Whether you purchase your tarantula from a pet store or directly from a trusted breeder (the choice we’d recommend!), you can check the health of your new tarantula immediately by observing its behavior and body. Does it have a round belly? Are its hairs shiny? Does it appear active? If the answer to these is yes, then you have a happy and healthy curly hair tarantula on your hands.
Since they are native to the jungles of Honduras and Costa Rica, curly hair tarantulas will benefit from their terrarium being placed in a warm room of around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your house is kept cooler than this, you can keep a low wattage heating pad underneath the terrarium.
As above mentioned, the heat from your home should suffice in keeping your tarantula at a comfortable temperature and the addition of an under tank heating pad will keep temperatures stable in cooler conditions. You should keep a thermometer in their enclosure at all times to monitor that the temperature levels are at a steady 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Be wary of their terrarium facing direct sunlight since bathing in sunlight for too long will cause your tarantula’s home to cook pretty fast, so consider this carefully when deciding where to set up their habitat.
Curly hair tarantulas dwell in grassland for burrowing, so they require fairly high levels of humidity compared to other spider species. Keeping their enclosure at levels between 65-70 percent humidity is best and this can be done by keeping a water dish in their terrarium at all times. Misting along the walls of their enclosure is also beneficial as it will be absorbed by the substrate (foundation bed of soil or peat moss). Be careful not to mist your tarantula, however, as this can make them agitated and risk them making an attempt escape.
As well as keeping a thermometer in their enclosure, it’s a good idea to keep a Digital Hygrometer in their terrarium to get an accurate reading of the humidity levels. Monitoring the humidity levels are essential for your tarantula’s health since having too dry an enclosure can cause them difficulties when molting (shedding their exoskeleton) and may leave your pet tarantula’s possible disfigurement or death.
Since they are nocturnal creatures, lighting will not be necessary in your tarantula’s tank from either heat lamps or UV lights. A nearby lamp (outside of their terrarium) can be replaced with a red bulb to add a little extra heat at night. Otherwise, lighting is largely unnecessary, as your tarantula is far more comfortable – and has adapted to – dim light.
Mating can occur at any time of the year for curly hair tarantulas and begins when a receptive female allows a male to pass a packet of sperm to her with his pedipalps (the small appendages tarantulas use to help them during feeding). Eventually, the fertilized egg sac – which can contain around 500-1,000 eggs – is then laid in a burrow by the female. There, the silky egg sac remains incubated in the burrow for around 7 to 8 weeks in total, after which the pale baby spiderlings will begin to emerge.
If you are hoping to breed your curly hair tarantulas, you must be certain that both tarantulas are of the exact same species. Also, always take caution as an unreceptive female tarantula will tend to show aggression towards an approaching male, which can result in her (in extreme cases) trying to eat and kill the male she views as a threat. Since breeding can be quite risky, it is best avoided unless you have previous experience with tarantulas. It’s also wise to get advice on breeding your curly hair tarantula in captivity from a reputable breeder or tarantula expert as much as possible beforehand.