The Best Tarantula Species For Beginners Revisited (Video Version)

“What is the best tarantulas species for a beginner?”

I’ve spent a lot of time answering this question over the years, and for those just dipping their toe into this amazing hobby, it’s an excellent and important question to ask. Several year ago, I wrote my article “The Best Tarantula Species for Beginners” in which I detailed the species I thought make excellent first tarantulas for someone just starting out. In this first version, I included only species I kept and cared for so that I could share my own experiences and anecdotes on them.  To be truthful, my opinions on some of the species (I’m looking at you A. chalcodes, A. avicularia, and B. vagans!) have changed over the years, so I’ve continued to periodically revise the original text to jigger the order and to add new species deserving of the title. With the post nearing 50,000 views, it was important to me that it remain current and accurate.

Recently, I had someone ask me about whether or not an Acanthoscurria geniculata (Brazilian white knee) would make a good first tarantula. This individual had never owned a tarantula in her life, was a bit scared of spiders, and had just begun doing research on their husbandry. When I informed her that I love the species, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to someone with no experience, she seemed a bit taken aback. Her reply: “Oh, but I just watched a YouTube video where the guy said it’s a good beginner tarantula.”

I was a bit surprised, as I know the species is popular in the hobby, but its size, skittishness, and reputation for being a bit ornery would make it bit too much of a spider for most novices. I asked for a link to the video, and was floored to discover that there were quite a few spiders listed that could give newbies fits, including several very fast and nervous species.

Look, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that keeper is obviously free to post whatever he wants. In his defense, he did at least mention that the A. geniculata might be more on the intermediate side of things. I also know a couple keepers who started with this species and did fine, so it’s not outrageous to think that others might do the same. That said, after watching said video, I couldn’t help but feel like his list wasn’t composed with much thought or experience; instead, it seemed like he was trying to raise a couple eyebrows by making increasingly controversial choices with no real regard to standard or criteria. Also, instead of choosing species that would be appropriate for new keepers, he appeared to just be rattling off his favorite tarantulas.

In my opinion, a good “beginner” species should be a spider that can be kept by even the most green keeper without issue. I talk to a lot of folks who are either just starting out or who are doing their research in preparation for getting their first spider. Many are admitted arachnophobes who are hoping a tarantula might help them to quell their irrational fear. Some have never cared for an exotic pet before.  Then, there are the younger keepers, adolescents and teens still living a home with parents and siblings who are looking to get a cool new pet.

You’re really going to recommend a fast and feisty spider to these poor folks?

When making a list, it’s crucial to consider your potential audience. If you can’t picture a 12-year-old enthusiast or the older arachnophobe dealing with a certain species, then maybe it shouldn’t be on the list.

Does that mean that folks can’t start off with species considered to be more advanced? Of course not. It honestly depends on the individual and his or her personal skill set. I’ve heard many stories about keepers jumping in the deep end with baboon species and pokies successfully.  That being said, most folks just joining the hobby aren’t ready for that much spider.

And that’s where these lists become important…

So, with this video in mind, I decided that it was high time I made my own comprehensive YouTube video guide with an updated list of what I believe to be the top beginner tarantulas. I appreciate that my blog post on the subject may be a bit wordy and long-winded for some, and although I have husbandry videos for the species on that list, there was nothing with them all together. This new video would hopefully become a one-stop resource for those looking for information on where exactly to start in the hobby.

The Criteria

To create the following list, I first drew from my own experience and observations. I then reviewed several forum threads on good beginner Ts from three different message boards and recorded the species that came up the most.  I looked at three main criteria:

  1. Temperament – Although temperament can vary from specimen to specimen, there are some species that are generally considered to be more docile than others. As a result, I picked species that have a reputation for being calm and left off the faster, more skittish spiders.
  2. Ease of husbandry and Care – As many novices aren’t up to speed on husbandry, only spiders with easy care requirements were considered. The species on this list can all be kept at room temperature on dry substrate with water dishes and a hide. With the exception of the Avicularia, all of these can be kept in basic terrestrial set ups and do not have moisture requirements.
  3. Price and availability  Finally, most people just getting into the hobby don’t want to spend a lot on their spider, nor do they want to hunt high and low for a particular species. As a result, I tried to take availability into account.

It’s also important to mention that, although I don’t personally handle tarantulas for fun and I have written about the handling “controversy”, I know many folks who do. More importantly,  many of those I speak with that are new to the hobby think that handling is an essential part of keeping spiders and are therefore intent on handling their new pet.  As a result, I assume that whoever might read this list will likely be looking for some hands-on time with their tarantula. Although I mention handling in the video, I’m not encouraging it, but merely recognizing that it can and will happen. Remember, temperament varies from specimen to specimen, and just because a species has a reputation for being tractable doesn’t mean that your spider will tolerate handling.

As always, I encourage folks to go out and seek other keeper’s opinions. Although I feel strongly that my picks are good ones, they only represent one keeper’s perspective. If you have a question about a particular species, as always, don’t be afraid to ask someone who actually keeps that spider.

Now, on to the video!

 

Tarantula Forum – A Friendly and Informative Place for Tarantula Enthusiasts

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For those who get hooked on the hobby, the topic of tarantulas can become all-absorbing. Suddenly, all of your free time is spent researching husbandry, learning scientific names, and observing and caring for these amazing creatures. However, unlike more “common” hobbies, like scrap booking, gaming, cooking, or any other pastime that doesn’t involve giant spiders, it can be very difficult finding like-minded folks to share your enthusiasm with.

We’ve all been guilty of it. We corner a spouse to share our excitement over finding a species online for a good price. Or, a coworker asks how our weekend was, and we respond by showing them photos of a recent molt. This can leave folks smiling uncomfortably and nodding politely as they try to figure out what the hell a “Poecilotheria” is and how to get away from you.  After all, family, friends, and co-workers can only take so much spider talk before it becomes a bit overwhelming … and annoying. It doesn’t take long for you to be a person to avoid, a bit of an eccentric pariah, as folks try to keep from getting trapped into hearing more tarantula talk.

Heck, I know my wife, family, and co-worker were probably getting a bit tired of hearing about spiders every time I opened my mouth, which is why I started to blog about it. I just needed to get it out of my system (and spare some loved ones in the process).

So, where do you go when to find friendly like-minded people who share your love for tarantulas.

Facebook groups have become a very popular destination for those wanting to share their love of tarantula keeping. Most people have Facebook pages, and it’s very easy to find a group that will work for you.

Forums are another option, and there are many out there that offer great experiences and a wealth of information. One place I like to recommend is the Tarantula Forum. I’ve been a member for many years, and I’ve found the folks there to be incredibly affable and helpful.  Want to post pics of a current molt? Or share your excitement over a recent acquisition? This is a wonderful place to do it and receive a warm response.

Even better, perhaps you have a question about husbandry or a particular species, but you’re afraid to ask. For those who have been on other social media sites or forums, you know how a seemingly innocent question can often lead to a lynch mob-type response. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything but positive, helpful, and encouraging replies to husbandry questions on the Tarantula Forum. It doesn’t matter how elementary or basic your question may be, the folks there will offer sound advice without a measure of judgment.

Personally speaking, I go there to chat with other keepers and to have some fun. It’s a blast keeping up with some of the other keepers I’ve met through the forum, YouTube, or my website. Between my blog and the YouTube channel, I spend much times answering questions (which I love). Sometimes, however, I just want to unwind and socialize, and this forum has been a great place for that.

So, if your friends and family are currently scattering when you approach, or if you have a question that you would love some advice on, be sure to check out the Tarantula Forum. It’s  truly warm and welcoming community of keepers. And if you do, be sure to introduce yourself and drop me a line (you can find me under Tomoran with my familiar O. philippinus avatar!).