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How to Care for Your Curly Hair Tarantula

How to Care for Your Curly Hair Tarantula

The curly hair tarantula (Tliltocatl albopilosus) is a medium-sized, nocturnal, fossorial tarantula found in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Their preferred habitat is the floor of the rainforest, although they are known to live in cleared areas as well.

Curly hair tarantulas typically have a 6-6.5” legspan as adults. Their body has a dark brown-black base color with curled hairs that range from blond, auburn, or even gray-blue in color. Enthusiasts often describe them as having a “fluffy” appearance.

Curly hair tarantulas are known for being a great beginner-level tarantula because of their hardiness and gentle, tolerant dispositions. With good care, males can live up to 5 years and females can live up to 25 years. 

How much space do curly hair tarantulas need?

Curly hair tarantulas don’t need much space, but they do need at least some space for moving around. The minimum for appropriately keeping one adult curly hair tarantula is 20”L x 10”W x 10”H, or the equivalent of a standard 10-gallon tank. This species is known for their tendency to roam, so using larger dimensions is beneficial and will be happily used! 

It’s best not to house slings in adult-sized enclosures. Instead, basic acrylic spiderling enclosures are usually suitable, no less than four times the spider’s legspan, and no taller than two legspans above the substrate layer.

The enclosure should be well-secured, but not with a mesh lid. Tarantula feet can get stuck in mesh if they climb up that high, which can result in them being stuck upside-down and/or injured. So it’s best to replace the screen with a sheet of acrylic with holes drilled into it for ventilation. Alternatively, you can use a screen lid with holes that are too large for the T’s feet to get stuck, but too small for escape. 

Cohabitation (keeping multiple tarantulas in one enclosure) is not recommended, as cannibalism is possible.

Do curly hair tarantulas need UVB?

They can certainly survive without it, and due to this fact, as well as the fact that UVB wavelengths are blocked by glass and acrylic lids, UVB is not commonly used among tarantula keepers.

That being said, there is some evidence to suggest that tarantulas may benefit from UVB lighting when appropriately provided. This paper speculates that wild tarantulas may get at least part of their vitamin D3 from UVB exposure, and this paper provides evidence of invertebrates being able to synthesize vitamin D3 from UVB.

If you wish to provide UVB to your tarantula, the best UVB bulb to use is likely to be the compact coil Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0, 13w. The bulb should be mounted horizontally in a reflective fixture, and placed on top of a mesh lid with holes large enough to prevent the tarantula’s legs from getting caught. (For this reason, it may be best to refrain from providing UVB lighting until your tarantula is large enough for an adult-sized enclosure.) UVB bulb output decays over time, so make sure to replace your bulb every 6 months.

Lights should be on for 12 hours/day.

What basking temperatures do curly hair tarantulas need?

Tarantulas are ectotherms, which means that they need to be kept within a specific range of temperatures in order to regulate their metabolism and stay healthy.

The optimal ambient temperature for curly hair tarantulas is around 78-85°F during the day and 68-72°F at night. If possible, try to maintain your tarantula’s room at this temperature. However, if this is not possible, and the room is cooler than this range, then you’ll need a heat source. A small heat mat, stuck to the side of the enclosure and regulated with a thermostat set to 84-85°F during the day, should be enough to address this problem. Track the temperatures in your enclosure with a digital probe thermometer.

What humidity levels do curly hair tarantulas need?

Curly hair tarantulas generally prefer high humidity conditions between 65-85%. You can do this by moistening the substrate, although take care that the substrate is never swampy or soaked. The top layer of substrate should be dry, with a damp underlayer. You can measure ambient humidity levels with a digital probe hygrometer.

What substrate is good for curly hair tarantulas?

Curly hair tarantulas are enthusiastic burrowers, so make sure to provide at least 4” of substrate for adults, and one body length’s worth of substrate for anything smaller. We recommend the following substrates for curly hair tarantulas:

What décor can you use in a curly hair tarantula terrarium?

Tarantulas may not seem to do much, but it’s still beneficial to give them items in their enclosure that they can explore and use to express natural behaviors. It also makes the enclosure more attractive!

At minimum, your tarantula needs at least one place to hide. However, additional options include:

Make sure all décor is well-secured so that it can’t accidentally fall on top of your pet!

What do curly hair tarantulas eat?

Tarantulas are carnivores, which means that they need whole prey in order to get the nutrition that they need. Here is a basic feeding schedule:

  • Juveniles — every 7-14 days
  • Adults — every 14-21 days

Tarantulas should receive 1-5 bugs per meal, depending on their size, body condition and the nutritional density of the insect (ex: one dubia roach is usually worth multiple crickets). Prey insects should be small enough for the tarantula to overpower, which is an especially important consideration for slings — this is usually roughly the same size or smaller than the length of the tarantula’s abdomen. Live, well-gutloaded prey is a requirement. 

Offer a variety of different insects if possible to provide varied nutrition:

Remove all uneaten prey within 24 hours to prevent the prey from harassing the tarantula.

Water

Tarantulas under 2” across should receive water via routine (light) misting of the enclosure. The enclosure should be allowed to dry between mistings. Tarantulas over 2” may have a shallow water dish for drinking. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly. 

Do curly hair tarantulas like to be handled?

As a general rule, it’s best not to handle tarantulas. But as far as tarantulas go, curly hair tolerate occasional handling very well. Although they do have urticating hairs, they rarely use them, and they very rarely bite or even offer a defensive posture.

When allowed to crawl onto your hand of their own volition and handled gently, curly hair can be an ideal tarantula for a keeper who prefers to be a little more “hands-on” with their pets. However, never handle a tarantula within a week of molting, and always handle it over a soft surface (ex: your bed or couch) so that if it falls, it won’t get injured.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.


"Curly hair tarantula" by bug_g_membracid is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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