If you’re thinking about getting a spider, you may be wondering what you’ll need to keep it happy. Well, besides an appropriate enclosure, you’ll need to, of course, feed your new pet. But what does a spider eat, exactly? We’re here to let you know!
All spiders are carnivores, meaning they eat other insects and, sometimes, other spiders. Depending on the species and its hunting habits, you’ll need to offer different prey types to your pet. For example, if you get a tarantula, you’ll have to provide it with live, gut-loaded crickets.
But what do other kinds of spiders eat? What type of food should you avoid, and how often should you feed your new pet? We have all the answers in this post!
What to Feed a Pet Spider: A Basic Guide
Understanding the Different Kinds of Spiders and Their Diets
As we mentioned before, you need to understand your spider’s species to know what it needs. Although you could guess what kind of insects you can offer to your pet based on size, that’s not enough.
For example, web-spinning spiders wait for prey to come to their sticky webs, which tend to be in high places. Thus, these arachnids’ diet revolves around flying insects like flies, butterflies, and moths.
Yet, you could think you can feed a web spider with wasps, but that’s a terrible idea. These flying insects have poison that can kill spiders, even if they’re bigger.
Then, there are also arachnids like tarantulas that are hunters by nature.
These eight-legged predators can’t spin webs, so they wait in the dark for their prey. Then, when an unsuspecting insect comes near a tarantula, the arachnid will ambush it and kill it. In the wild, tarantulas eat grasshoppers, beetles, and smaller spiders.
But more prominent tarantula species can even eat small lizards and birds.
As you can see, deciding on what to feed your spider with will depend on its species and type. But, to help you, we’ve gathered a list of the most common pet spiders. In the list, you’ll find recommendations about prey, feeding frequency, and more, so read on!
What to Feed a Tarantula
Tarantulas are the most common pet spiders, although, technically, they’re arachnids, not spiders.
Part of these cold-blooded animals’ popularity has to do with how easy it is to house them. The most common species at pet stores include Pink-toed and Chilean rose tarantulas.
You can also get live insects at the pet store to feed your tarantula. Although you can choose between different options, we recommend you get crickets.
That said, you need to make sure the crickets are gut-loaded before you offer them to your new pet. But what do we mean by “gut-loaded”? you may ask, well, it means the insects also need to have eaten previous to the tarantula devouring them.
Thus, it would be better if you get cricket food as well.
But how often should you feed a tarantula? Well, it depends but, for the most part, they’ll thrive eating two crickets weekly. Yet, larger species may need six of these gut-loaded insects per week.
It would help if you placed the crickets inside the tarantula’s tank with tweezers. These arachnids tend to be nocturnal, so you should always aim to feed them at night when they’re more active.
Sometimes, you may notice your tarantula’s not eating, but don’t worry. In the wild, these arachnids can spend several weeks or months without a meal.
You may also realize that, as your pet gets older, it eats less.
A good thing about tarantulas is that you don’t have to fear overfeeding them. These multi-legged animals will eat according to their unique needs.
You only need to remember to remove any uneaten insects from the enclosure in 24 hours tops. Live crickets could end up nibbling on the tarantula and hurting it.
That said, if you notice the tarantula’s abdomen looks smaller, it may need food or water. Provide your pet with food and a shallow dish filled with chlorine-free water.
You may think your pet’s not drinking enough water. But tarantula’s get a lot of moisture from the insects they eat, so don’t panic!
If you want to mix things up, you can also offer other insects to your tarantula. Acceptable “meals” include worms and roaches.
Some people also opt to feed tarantulas with pink mice on special occasions, but this is risky. While the arachnid may be able to kill and consume rodents, it’ll like end up with serious injuries. In the worst-case scenario, your pet could even die.
So, you may want to make your tarantula stick to a cricket diet for its good. After all, these cold-blooded pets don’t crave variety; they’ll be happy to have food.
Some tarantula owners choose to breed crickets, but this option could be too noisy in the long run. You can buy the insects and their food in bulks at any pet store when you need them.
Also, it may be tempting to feed the tarantula with insects you see around your house. But, please, make sure there hasn’t been any pesticide around your pet’s dining options. Otherwise, there’s a risk your anthropoid friend will die.
What to Feed a Jumping Spider
Jumping spiders are cute, little arachnids that also make great cold-blooded pets.
Jumping spiders are docile, friendly, and not dangerous to humans in any way. You’ll also find watching these species chase after prey a fascinating experience too. After all, they can jump up to six times their body length to catch their victims, hence the name.
These spiders are only about four inches big as adults. So, as a consequence, you need to feed these animals with insects smaller than them or around their size.
Flies, for example, are an appropriate meal for jumping spiders, but not all of them. You should buy these insects at the pet store and avoid those you may find around your house.
Why? Well, wild flies can carry pests or pesticides that can hurt your spider. So, it would be better if you’ve got flies that grew in captivity, in a contained, sterile environment. Likewise, the pet store will likely have the more nutritious insects available for your pet.
You could also try feeding your jumping spider with crickets, but it may be a challenge.
For starters, you’ll need to get tiny crickets for when your pet is a baby. Then, as your spiders molt and grow, you’ll have to get bigger live feeders.
Also, uneaten crickets could cause a lot of damage to a tiny jumping spider. So, you’ll need to take the insects out of the enclosure if your pet doesn’t eat them right away.
Worms can also be a nice treat for a jumping spider, but never the main ingredient of its diet.
Both mealworms and waxworms have too much fat and lack other nutrients that your pet needs. So, you could only offer worms to a jumping spider now and then, as a bonus meal.
When it comes to frequency, you should feed these spiders two or three times a week in general. When talking about quantity, an insect per meal is enough for these cold-blooded pets.
What to Feed Other Pet Spider Species
Other popular pet spider species include wolf spiders. These arachnids’ diet is, pretty much, like tarantula’s.
So, you can offer gut-loaded crickets and worms to your wolf spider, as long as they’re half the size of your pet.
The difference is that these arachnids need to eat more often. So, you’ll have to feed them every two days or even daily in the case of larger species.
Then, there are also Grass spiders, which you can sometimes find in your backyard and keep as pets. These funnel-weaver species only need to eat once per week and can thrive on a cricket diet.
You only need to make sure that your pet gets at least three per meal if the crickets are small. Yet, if the insects are big, you can stick to giving one to your spider when it’s time to eat.