What Do Tarantulas Eat?

Tarantulas primarily eat insects, but there are some species that prefer larger game prey, like mice, frogs, and small lizards.

Tarantulas are known to be the world’s most massive spider species, and these hairy eight-legged creatures are both feared and beloved.  They tend to give many people the creeps, typically due to their size and overall appearance.

Even though tarantula bites can be pretty painful, their venom is too low to harm humans.  Despite that spiders, in general, are one of the top societal phobias worldwide, these nocturnal arachnids make incredible pets for the right kind of people.

There are over 850 species of tarantulas identified to date, with Chilean Rose, Costa Rican Zebra, Mexican Redleg and Mexican Redknee being some of the top groups that people bring home as pets. 

If the idea of having a tarantula in your home is liberating to you, then that is great!  But there are some crucial components to be aware of beforehand.  If you are thinking about adopting one of these unique spiders, then you must know how to care for them properly, such as the vital aspect of understanding their feeding needs.

How Do Tarantulas Eat?

Those who own, or have previously owned a tarantula in the past, tend to all agree that one of the most fascinating things is observing how they eat.  These amazing spiders approach their mealtime in a very unconventional way. 

First off, they start by placing their razor-sharp fangs into its prey, and with just one bite, they are able to render their prey motionless.  This debilitation is due to their powerful paralyzing venom capabilities.  Spiders do not have any teeth and are not able to eat solid foods.  

Because of this, the next step is the digestive enzymes from the spider bite work quickly to deconstruct the prey’s tissues, and impressively transform it into a liquid.  When the prey is fully liquified, the tarantula now has the ability to eat, and they suck it up.  Or, if they are not really hungry just yet, they will conceal their food in silk and save it for later.

How Often Do Tarantulas Eat?

How often your tarantula will need to be fed is dependant on several factors. Feeding schedules are widely constructed upon the particular species you want to own. 

However, as a general rule of thumb, offering food every four to seven days to younger spiders and every seven to ten days for larger ones is considered a reasonable routine. 

Some owners may feed baby tarantulas daily to help them grow faster out of their most vulnerable stage. In addition, even though your spider pet will get most of their water from their food, put a small water dish in their tank for them in case they need it.

Another point to keep in mind is that younger tarantulas will usually continue eating until they are completely full, but the full-grown adults may only eat once a month. 

One way you can help determine if you are offering too much food is to observe your spider’s abdomen.  If it is overly large and your tarantula is having a hard time moving directly due to it, then you may want to start reducing the feedings.

The last thing to take note is to never to feed a freshly molted spider.  Spiders molt because they have an exoskeleton that they must shed in order to grow.  During this process, their skin is very defenseless for a while.  If live prey is in the exhibit with them, they could end up hurting your spider and cause detrimental damage to their softened skin.  For the safest approach, wait about two weeks before resuming your regular feeding regime.

What Do Baby Tarantulas Eat?

If you decide to get a baby tarantula, you must first assess their size before starting to feed them.  Many times, tarantulas would prefer to prey on living insects, but they can successfully eat pre-killed ones, which would be ideal during this vital stage. 

In addition, giving them food that is too big could cause your spider harm because baby spiders are tiny and fragile during this point in their lifecycle.  Generally, you can feed your baby tarantula fruit flies, extremely little pieces of crickets or micro crickets, roaches, or worms.  Before you start, ensure that the food is much smaller than your spider to optimize their safety.

While feeding baby tarantulas frequently is critical to maximizing their growth rates, this also means that they will molt more often.  Be diligent and hyperaware of your spider’s behaviors and actions because you may not have much warning time beforehand.  

When you notice molting occurring, stop the feedings, and if there is any live and/or uneaten prey in the enclosure, take them out immediately until your spider develops new thickened skin.

Why Do Tarantulas Eat Their Mate?

If you are not planning on breeding your tarantulas, then you may only want to consider having one.  Female spiders often consume their male mates after, and sometimes while during intercourse.  There have also been reported findings that female spiders will start eating the male even before the sexual act occurs.  

It is clear that they exhibit aggressive genetic traits, but the question many ask is, why?  Though it is not entirely known, some scientists believe that it could be for evolutionary reasons, such as spider cannibalism being a nutritional advantage or a way to get rid of the undesirable mates from the population.

Do Tarantulas Eat Scorpions?

If you are wondering if your new tarantula pet will need to eat scorpions, the answer is probably no.  Out of all the spider species, only one has demonstrated scorpion consumption.  So, the politically correct answer to this question would be yes, but it is limited right now to the Arizona Tarantulas.  These spiders live in the Western Desert and are nocturnal hunters.  They are usually seen feeding upon larger insects such as caterpillars, millipedes, and yes, the occasional scorpion will be prey.

Do Tarantulas Eat Birds?

This is another common question, and similar to the answer above, there is only one tarantula species known to eat birds, and that is the Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula.  These spiders are immensely vast, with a leg span of nearly twelve inches long.  Their primary prey is earthworms, but its massive size gives it the ability to hunt for larger game food resources.  Though the bird-eating behavior is rare for them and is not part of their typical diet, they can and will feast on them if called for.


Tarantulas are relatively easy to care of, but they do require a bit more work than simply taking one home one day and autopiloting the routine.  You must pay attention to their molting schedule, their particular species needs, and their size to adequately feed them properly.  

Tarantulas cannot give you the same hunger cues as a typical household pet, which is why you need to do as much research as you can to know how to take care of your particular spider correctly.  Different species will tend to require different care, but the above information is a good starting guideline.  

If you create excellent living conditions and adequate feeding cycles, you can expect a female tarantula to live up to twenty-five to thirty years, and for males for about seven years.  

Tarantulas are amazing little creatures that can make great companions.  They come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes, which is what makes owning them such an addictive and unique interest.