The Top Seven Tarantula Species for Beginners
By V. Berba Velasco
Tarantulas can make wonderful pets. They are exotic,
fascinating creatures that require much less attention than a
dog or a cat, or even a tank of fish. Many species are hardy
enough to require minimal care, and they always make great
topics of conversation. Nevertheless, novice pet keepers
should be careful about deciding what kind of tarantula to get,
as some species can be aggressive or inordinately delicate.
Here are some recommendations on the best species for
beginning tarantula keepers.
1. The Honduran curly hair tarantula (Grammastola
albopilosum). Pet store employees typically recommend the
Chilean rose hair tarantula, but I’m going to defy popular
opinion here. In my judgment, the Honduran curly hair tarantula
makes for a better pet, provided that one doesn’t mind some
extra expense. Like most common pet species, these are
gentle, incredibly docile creatures. Unlike the Chilean rose hair
tarantula though, these have very hearty appetites. Admittedly,
they tend to be more expensive than the rose hairs; however,
spiderlings can typically be purchased for a pittance (often
from $3 to $6 each), and due to their ravenous appetites, they
grow rather quickly.
2. The Chilean rose hair tarantula (Grammastola rosea).
This is the most common pet store variety. They are likewise
gentle and easy to take care of; however, they have this
annoying habit of fasting for months on end, which can be most
aggravating. Still, they do make wonderful pets for beginners.
3. The Mexican red knee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi).
This species, along with the Chilean rose hair, is commonly
used in movies and on TV. It is likewise very docile, and much
more colorful than most pet store varieties. In my experience
though, its hairs tend to be a bit irritating to human skin. In
addition, due to its popularity, it has become a restricted
species; that is, harvesting them from the wild has been made
illegal. As a result, they tend to be on the expensive side.
4. The Mexican blonde tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes).
Another docile wonder. For a while, this species was not readily
available for sale, but it has been making a comeback. Most
pet stores still do not carry this variety, but it is often available
via mail order.
5. The Chaco golden knee tarantula (Grammastola
aureostriatum). Easily one of my favorites! These specimens
are not as colorful as the red knee tarantula, but they can be
distinguished by the gold-colored bands on their legs. They
also have impressive legspans (up to eight inches or more!),
but their frightening size is belied by their utterly sweet
dispositions. However, because they are relatively new to
hobbyists, they tend to cost more than other tarantulas.
6. The Brazilian black tarantula (Grammastola pulchra).
These also tend to be on the large side. This is not a colorful
species; however, their satiny black carapace gives them a
sleek, elegant look. This variety is almost as large as
Grammastola aureostriatum, with a legspan of 7 to 8 inches.
7. The Costa Rican zebra tarantula (Aphonopelma
seemani). This one is a bit harder to take care of than the
previously mentioned species, but it’s still a treasure. These
tend to be a bit skittish though, and so handling them is not
recommended. They do not typically bite, but they are prone to
running away, and like most tarantulas, they can be easily
injured in a fall.
About the author:
V. Berba Velasco Jr., Ph.D. is a senior electrical and software
engineer at Cellular Technology Ltd, a biotech company that
provides ELISPOT expertise, CEF peptides, serum-free media
and cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells
(PBMCs). CTL has offices in Ohio, Europe, China and Japan.