Rose Hair Tarantula Care Sheet

More Rose Hair Tarantulas (aka Chilean Rose Tarantulas) are kept as pets than any other kind of tarantula, and they make an excellent choice for your first pet arachnid. Looking after a Rose Hair is pretty straightforward and not too challenging, and they’re not too dangerous, which is partly why they’re so popular.

This Rose Hair Tarantula care sheet tells you everything you need to know to get started with caring for your Rose Hair Tarantula, but a copy of one of the books dedicated to tarantula care is indispensable. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide is absolutely brilliant, but there are a few other excellent books out there as well e.g. Tarantulas (Animal Planet Pet Care Library).

Rose Hair Tarantula Size
Adults of this tarantula species will usually have a legspan of around 5.5″ and a body length of 3″ or so (a little less for males), which puts them somewhere around the middle of the tarantulas in terms of size.

Rose Hair Tarantula Lifespan
People have only been keeping Rose Hairs as pets for a relatively short period of time, and as a result it’s hard to say exactly how long they live for. The current best estimate is that females may live for as long as 20 years and possibly even a little more, while males are generally unlikely to exceed 7 years.

Rose Hair Tarantula Cage
A 10 gallon tank should easily be big enough for an adult Rose Hair Tarantula. In general, the cage should be a minimum of three times the spider’s leg span long, twice the leg span wide and the same in height, or maybe a little lower. This is a terrestrial species so the height of the tank isn’t too important; it may actually be better to have a low ceiling so that if your tarantula does climb it’s less likely to get injured falling onto its back from the top of the enclosure. Also make sure the tank has a good lid, or you may well end up with a tarantula on the loose in your bedroom. The Large Exo Terra Faunarium is the perfect shape and has made many tarantula owners very happy – just look at all the positive reviews! The best alternative we can find is the Zilla 10 gallon Critter Cage.

You should place the tank somewhere out of direct sunlight, but it should not be in a darkened room, as it’s thought to be good for a Rose Hair Tarantula to be able to see a natural day-night cycle and the slow change of day length through the seasons. Artificial light is best avoided.

One good and easy-to-find substrate for your tank is horticultural vermiculite (but not insulation grade). Another popular choice is peat-based potting soil (which we don’t recommend due to potential environmental impacts). You should never use garden soil because of the inevitable contamination from pesticides, weedkillers and so on, which may well kill your spider.

Many of the substrates designed for reptiles are now widely used for Rose Hair Tarantula terrariums. One of the best is Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber – a very popular choice.

Some owners use an aquarium gravel substrate without problems, but this has very little in common with their natural habitat so should probably be avoided.

Whatever substrate you choose, it should be around 2″ thick. If your tarantula seems to be actively avoiding the substrate (spending most of the day on the sides or roof of the tank, covering the surface with silk etc.) then try one of the other options.

It’s good to be provide a small retreat or shelter for your tarantula, which is best done using a coconut shell, a small flower pot, wood, bark or whatever else seems a good idea to you. Some kind of commercially made den (normally designed for reptiles) could also be used.

Temperature
Rose Hair Tarantulas are much more hardy creatures than many first time owners expect. In their native Atacama Desert, they must withstand both scorching summer highs of 120F as well as occasional light frosts in the winter. Keeping them at room temperature should be fine – if you don’t feel cold in a T-shirt, your Rose Hair shouldn’t be too cold either. If you’re careful you can increase the temperature of the tank to around 75F which is probably ideal for this species, but be sure to monitor the heat closely and turn off the heat source on hot days, or you run the very real risk of actually cooking your pet.

Water and Humidity
Your tarantula should always be provided with a shallow water dish, as they will die if they never have the chance to drink. Add a pebble or two to the dish so that no prey animals drown in the water, as this is clearly unhygienic. The water dish should be cleaned and replenished regularly.

Overflowing the water dish every few days should be enough to keep the humidity high enough – ideal humidity for these tarantulas is surprisingly low at about 65-70%. Rose Hair Tarantulas can however cope with temporarily lower humidity levels if they must. Spraying the tank shouldn’t be necessary, and is more likely to annoy your Rose Hair. A hygrometer is recommended to help keep an eye on the humidity in the tank, but be aware that hygrometers have a reputation for being a little inaccurate in general.

Rose Hair Tarantula Diet
Even an adult Rose Hair Tarantula will only need four or five live (pesticide-free) adult crickets to feed on every couple of weeks, and these can be fed all at once. The crickets should be gut-loaded to provide maximum nutrition, and your tarantula will also get much of the moisture it needs from this prey. For young spiderlings, you might want to try feeding them wingless fruit flies as a staple food source. Adults can be fed the occasional pinky mouse, but this comes with the warning that it can easily introduce harmful bacteria, so we would advise against it. You should remove any uneaten prey within a couple of days.

Rose Hair Tarantulas are evolutionarily programmed to gorge themselves on food when they get the chance in preparation for the next famine season, so be careful not to feed them too much. They have extremely slow metabolisms, and feeding once a fortnight is absolutely fine.

Sometimes your tarantula may refuse food for weeks or even months at a time. This is natural and nothing to worry about, and may be the sign of an upcoming molt (see below). Rose Hairs can fast for several months without suffering any ill effects, so keep offering food every couple of weeks, but just remove it again if your pet isn’t interested. Note that there’s normally no point feeding your tarantula for the first week or so while it’s still getting used to it’s new home.

Rose Hair Tarantula Molting
Occasionally your tarantula will molt when it has grown out of its old skin. This can take some time (and in the buildup it will seem to be particularly lazy and will often go without food) and can be concerning for first time owners. It’s best to just leave them to it, but remove any prey items left in the tank so they don’t disturb your Rose Hair either. They may sometime lie on their backs when molting – this doesn’t mean the spider’s dead! Just leave it be.

The new skin will at first be very soft, as will the fangs, and for this reason you shouldn’t feed your tarantula for a week or so after molting as it probably won’t be able to eat the food anyway. A Rose Hair Tarantula is unlikely to do more than sit still and wait for its new skin to harden most of the time. Remove the old skin from the enclosure only when your tarantula is active again and has retreated to its hideout cave.

Handling Rose Hair Tarantulas

Image by davidricardoabrenica on Flickr

Image by davidricardoabrenica on Flickr

This is a controversial topic, as people naturally want to touch their pets, even if they might prefer not to be handled. Very few Rose Hair Tarantulas will bite. If they do, the pain should disappear in less than 24 hours and isn’t too severe anyway. Those tarantulas that don’t bite can be handled safely if you’re careful, but it may stress them out and they’re fascinating to just watch from a distance anyway.

Goggles or some other form of protective eyewear are sometimes recommended for handling Rose Hair Tarantulas, but most owners don’t bother. Urticating bristles are the reason – small hairs on the abdomen that can be released when tarantulas feel threatened. These hairs can be launched a little way, and one unfortunate British man ended up being hospitalized with the hairs lodged in his cornea. There’s always a risk with handling tarantulas, but the risks with this species are small and can be managed.

If you need any extra information that isn’t included in this Rose Hair Tarantula care sheet or elsewhere on the site, please either get in touch or consider purchasing one of the care guides linked to at the top of the page. We recommend The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide as the ultimate tarantula care resource.