One of the most interesting and popular pets is the tarantula. Despite how they look and their exotic nature, they’re one of the easiest pets to care for but also one of the most aloof. They don’t need social interaction and aren’t likely to miss you when you’re gone. Combined with their ability to go without food for weeks on end, many keepers say they can be left alone for a week or two without a problem.
Although they’re popular with spider lovers, not many people know how to properly care for a tarantula. While some tarantulas can live for up to 2 years without food, they still need access to clean water and other care1. Leaving them alone for any amount of time requires preparation. Generally, if you leave enough water for your tarantula, you can leave them alone for a week.
This guide will tell you more about why tarantulas can be left alone for so long and why they don’t need to eat as often as other animals.
Can I Leave My Tarantula Home Alone for a Week?
While a cat or a dog will bond with you and allow you to handle them, tarantulas aren’t wired the same way. They don’t require social interaction with humans to be happy and will likely never even notice when you spend time away from home.
Tarantulas simply don’t see you the same way that you see them. Although you might miss them while you’re gone and hurry to the terrarium to check on them once you’re back home, they will be none the wiser about the situation. This makes taking care of them incredibly simple, and leaving them on their own for a week is something that many tarantula owners do frequently with no ill effects.
Leaving a cat or a dog at home alone for a week should never be considered. Tarantulas, however, only need a secure terrarium and clean water to survive without you for a short while. They’ll be just as happy with you being gone for a week or two as they are with you feeding them every few days or so.
How Long Can Tarantulas Go Without Eating?
If you have a long vacation planned, knowing how long your tarantula can go without eating will help you determine whether you need to hire a pet sitter or ask a friend to check in on your eight-legged friend. Most spider species can go a long time without eating, and many tarantula species can survive for up to 2 years.
Despite their appearance, tarantulas are generally docile and slow-moving. They rely on ambush tactics when they hunt, ensuring limited movement. As a result, they require little energy and have a slow metabolic rate, which means they spend days digesting a meal.
As long as they have access to clean water, adult tarantulas can go a long time without food. Female tarantulas kept in captivity will sometimes stop eating voluntarily for almost a month before molting.
However, this doesn’t mean your tarantula will never starve to death. Pet tarantulas, for example, are more accustomed to eating regularly than their wild cousins. This can make it more challenging for them to experience long periods without food.
Depending on the individual tarantula, they may only be able to survive for a few weeks or months. Young tarantulas—also called slings—molt more frequently and require more nutrition than adult tarantulas. Due to this, they need to be fed more often than adults, but they can still live a few weeks without food.
Can You Leave Live Prey for Your Tarantula?
When you must leave other pets at home alone for a day, providing them with plenty of food in an automated feeder is one solution that many pet owners use. You might be tempted to try a similar tactic for your tarantula. However, since they eat live crickets, food shouldn’t be left in your tarantula’s terrarium while you’re away.
Tarantulas regularly shed their skin and grow a new one in a process known as “molting.” This process is common to animals with exoskeletons and is an important part of how they grow. Molting is also dangerous because it leaves your tarantula vulnerable. About 85% of deaths in arthropod species like insects and tarantulas occur during the molting period.
The live crickets that your tarantula preys on can be threats during this time too. If they remain uneaten and your tarantula goes into molt, the cricket will feast on your vulnerable spider instead. Even if you have an older tarantula that doesn’t molt that often, you should always remove uneaten prey from the terrarium after 24 hours, whether you’re planning on being home or not.
How Long Can a Tarantula Go Without Water?
Tarantulas might be able to go a long time without food, but the same cannot be said for water. Their ability to survive without food relies on having plenty of fresh, clean water to drink.
It is recommended to prepare your tarantula for your absence by feeding them and spraying the substrate. Then leave down an extra bowl of water and ensure that there is not direct sunlight on the tank as this will speed up water evaporation.
Should You Hire a Pet Sitter for Your Tarantula?
Although tarantulas are not the best pets for the squeamish or those who want a cuddling partner, they are easy to take care of. Being able to leave them on their own for a few days at a time is convenient for many pet owners.
If you’re only away from home for a few days or a week, there’s no real need to hire a pet sitter. Provided that you leave your tarantula with plenty of water, they’ll be okay without eating until you return.
To be safe, though, especially if you have a sling and are spending longer than a week away from home, you should hire a pet sitter or ask a friend for assistance. If you feel better hiring a pet sitter for a few days, you can ask them to check in more frequently with your tarantula—just remember to make sure they’re okay with looking after a spider.
If they’re new to taking care of tarantulas, make sure you teach them how to properly care for your spider.
Tarantulas are among the easiest pets to take care of due to their limited social needs and slow metabolism. Since they don’t form bonds with humans, they’re not likely to notice that you’re away from home at all. They also don’t require regular feeding and can go without food for weeks, months, and even years at a time as long as they have clean water to drink.
If you have a sling or prefer to check in on your tarantula regularly, hire a pet sitter or ask a friend to look after your tarantula if you’re going to be away from home for more than a week.
Featured Image Credit: Wuttipat Jathutain, Shutterstock