Tarantulas are good pets for older children who understand that these spiders aren’t pets in the conventional sense. A child can’t teach a tarantula to do tricks or respond when called. What’s more, tarantulas don’t really like being handled; being handled for too long may stress them out and prompt them to bite.
Yet, for those who have their hearts set on getting a tarantula (and know what to expect), there are ways to find great satisfaction in these furry critters.
Tarantulas are Best Suited for Older Children
When thinking about getting a tarantula for a child, one should consider the following:
- The child’s age: Older children are less likely to make sudden movements or act on impulse when it comes to handling tarantulas.
- Whether the child has other pets: A child’s interactions with other pets will inform a parent whether getting a tarantula is a good decision. A child who treats animals with care and understands their boundaries could be a good candidate for a tarantula.
- The commitment: Every pet, no matter how big or small, is a commitment. When choosing a pet for their child, parents should consider whether there’s enough time in the day to properly care for it.
Tarantulas are Docile Creatures
Spiders in general are docile. They usually choose “flight” when it comes to fight-or-flight scenarios. The same pertains to tarantulas. Despite their menacing appearance, they rarely bite humans.
Note that the keyword here is rarely. When threatened or handled for extensive periods, a tarantula might bite its handler. Sources note that while a bite isn’t deadly, it feels very similar to a bee sting.
Maintaining a Tarantula’s Environment Is Cheap
Terminix reports that once a pet owner has purchased all the necessary items to make a tarantula feel at home, these spiders are cheap to maintain. For instance, they only eat once every few days. Also, their bedding only needs to be changed about once a month. This means that, with proper foresight, a tarantula owner can go on vacation and leave the spider with everything it needs to survive.
Setting Up a Tarantula Isn’t Cheap However
First things first, setting up a tarantula isn’t a low-cost commitment. One can expect to spend anywhere from $30 to $70 on the pet alone, not even factoring in the cost of substrate, food, a tank, and other items.
If a parent is thinking about getting a tarantula for their children, they should carefully weigh the costs beforehand. Nobody wants to spend three figures on setting up a tarantula terrarium, only for their child to lose interest.
Tarantulas Are Not Active
Guess what tarantulas love doing? Literally just sitting there. When in pursuit of prey, these spiders can move at surprisingly fast speeds, stopping at nothing to get a meal. Yet, when all its needs are met in its terrarium, it’ll usually remain immobile.
For some, this is the ideal pet, great for looking but not for touching. However, for children who want more interaction, they may find themselves quickly bored with a pet that just stays in place.
Tarantulas Are Extremely Delicate
Cats almost always land on their feet, avoiding injury. This is not the case for tarantulas. Even falling from a modest height (like from a child’s shoulder) usually means instant death. That’s because tarantula’s stomachs are very vulnerable to rupturing.
What’s more, once an adult tarantula loses a limb, it’ll never grow back. This could spell disaster for a spider that loses more than one leg in a single fall.
Getting a Tarantula Is a Years-Long Commitment
Many parents get goldfish as starter pets for their children. They generally only live a few years (in captivity), and they’re low maintenance. The same cannot be said for tarantulas. They require specialized care. Also, according to the National Park Service, they can live anywhere from 7 to 25 years.
What does this mean? As noted, getting a tarantula isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. Prospective owners should take care to do their research before heading out to the pet store.
There Are Better Starter Pets for Children
With education, older children can better understand the nuances of owning a tarantula. This allows them and their parents to make decisions about whether it’s time to bring one home. When it comes to younger children (like those in primary school), they may be better suited for a pet that thrives off interaction, doesn’t need that much maintenance, and lives for reasonable periods.
Some of these pets include:
- Hamsters: Hamsters make great pets for children. They sleep for 15 hours a day, making them low commitment. Hamsters enjoy being handled and, with patience, can learn to perform tricks.
- Senior dogs: Some parents don’t want the commitment of getting a puppy. That’s why many people adopt senior dogs that do well in homes with children. These dogs are already housebroken and socialized. They also offer a level of interaction that tarantulas cannot.
- Bearded dragons: Unlike other reptiles, bearded dragons bond with their owners and enjoy being handled. Bearded dragons can also “wave” and bob their heads, a friendly form of communication.