Authored by Todd Cornwell Unique Birthday Party Parties for Kids & Reptile Rescue
A Bird Eating Spider?
That is the name, yes, and there are a couple of different ones. The Goliath Bird Eater, & the Salmon Bird Eater are the ones that come to mind.
Spiders are all around us, most are small and inconsequential. We brush them away, we squish them with napkins, sweep them, and vacuum them up. Most of the time we never see them, they hide out in the dark, gloomy places where we fear to tread, basements, attics, crawl spaces, etc.
Then there are the tarantulas, the largest of all spiders, in fact the Goliath Bird Eater can reach 12 inches in diameter! These are (at least to me!), the coolest of all the spiders.
Tarantulas are an interactive spider
Tarantulas are an interactive spider, they hunt like tigers, creeping along, and then pouncing on their prey. While they have long curved fangs, they rarely bite. A tarantulas main defense is his butt hair! They will literally, throw the little hairs off the back of their abdomen with their back legs. The hairs are barbed (think porcupine), and they try to get the hairs in any predators eyes & noses. The hairs stick and irritate, so the predator’s eyes are watering, and they can’t stop sneezing. And while they are busy, the spider can crawl away.
It is fun watching a little spiderling grow.
I got a Salmon Bird Eater that was only about a month or two old, and less than ½ inch in diameter. Now at 2 ½ years old, she is about 9 inches in diameter, and still growing! Most of the tarantula species tolerate gentle handling, as in letting them crawl on you. Some are more tolerant than others, and even among tarantulas, personality reigns supreme. Which means, as with all animals, some can be nice, while others not so much. It is the same with cats & dogs though as well.
Normally, I don’t mess too much with my tarantulas, as I like to see them in all their beauty, which means all of the hairs intact. The more stressed they are, the more hairs they flick. But with a little time and patience, even my Bird Eater will allow me to direct her, and pick her up.
Depending on the species, tarantulas can need desert to jungle habitats. For my jungle species, I use about 4 inches of Coconut Fiber, or the Jungle Earth substrate, I bury a hide ½ way in the dirt, and let the spider arrange it as they want (and they will!). I also put in plastic foliage, so when I mist the enclosure, some of the water is available if they want a drink.
most spiders like it dark, Bird Eaters walk around on the floor of the jungle
The jungle species (like my Bird Eater), need to be misted daily, not on the spider, but in the enclosure. I have the top covered with a piece of plexiglass to keep the humidity inside as well. Remember, most spiders like it dark, Bird Eaters walk around on the floor of the jungle, so they have very little direct light. I have my enclosure, set back a little between 2 taller cages, so there is only indirect light, not any directly on the enclosure. I pull it forward when I am doing something with her, but that’s it.
Feeding them appropriate sized crickets or roaches, as they grow, so should the size of the prey. The biggest no-no is putting in too many prey items in at one time. Crickets can actually injure and even kill a spider if there are enough of them! I feed mine 2-3 crickets a week, occasionally even skipping a week, this gives them a chance to fully digest the meal, and simulates real life eating habits.
Bird Eater Tarantulas, can and do eat larger prey items on occasion. Once they reach about 4 inches, I start feeding a pinkie mouse every other month. I have seen them eat something as large as a small mouse, but I don’t recommend it, unless it is really large, a mouse can easily bite off a leg, or even kill your spider defending itself.
When spiders grow, they shed their skin as well. This is called molting, the first time it happened to us, we were totally freaked out. I thought another spider had gotten in the cage, and they had fought and one was dead! Now, I know so much more, than when I had spiders as a kid! When tarantulas molt, they literally pop their top off and crawl out of their old skin. Leaving behind a perfect skin, with legs and all! Then they stretch out, and can grow some more.
spiders actually make great pets
Overall, spiders actually make great pets, they don’t bark, beg, or eat the furniture. You aren’t going to fall asleep cuddling a Bird Eating Spider on the couch, but as the females can live to be 25+ years old, you will have many hours of enjoyment, watching them grow, eat, molt, and hearing the neighbor kids scream when you pull out your friend.