“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 years 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
8 thoughts on “The Best Tarantula Species For Beginners Revisited (Video Version)”
Reblogged this on Casey's Overnight Cafe and commented:
A video update to Tom’s Big Spider “best beginners article. Well worth the read..and now the watch! 🙂
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I adore my A. genic, who is still just an older juvi, but would I put my hands anywhere near her? Hell no, and she’s not even the feistiest one I have! I began in the hobby with my lovely male G. rosea (three years matured, he’s doing well!) but experience has taught me to suggest tarantulas such as G. pulchripes, A. chalcodes and B. albopilosum as first tarantulas, for their ease of care and laid-back temperament (my rosea male is very very relaxed, but I know this is unusual, as my female is the expected nutcase).
Happy new year!
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I love mine as well, and he’s actually very laid back. That said, sounds like mine is in the minority. I just think that it might be a 12-year-old kid reading this list and trying to pick his/her first T. I’m not recommending something with a reputation for being grumpy. haha And I agree with you completely. Those species have a well-earned reputation for being good starter spiders for a reason. Happy New Year! – Tom
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Hi Tom as usual good sound advice 🖒. Tom do you have any experience of P.Sazimai.I have a juvenile female ,and as it’s relatively new to the hobby and very likely to appeal to newcomers due to its beauty, think it’s only right to let people know that she is VERY defensive and makes it plainly obvious that she will bite, given the opportunity. She may well be a grouchy individual but I would be interested to hear how other keepers are finding them.Cheers and Happy new year. Jeff. (Uk).
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Hi, Jeff. Thanks so much! I have two P. sazimai that I raised from slings. Like you, I’ve found them to be a very defensive species. Mine are fast. skittish, and very quick to throw up a threat pose. They are definitely NOT the cuddly blue spiders folks seem to think they are. I love them, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend them to a beginner. I actually just had someone new to the hobby ask me about them, and I advised him to start with something a bit more even-tempered. Happy New Year to you and yours as well! – Tom
Hello Tom! My name is Attila and I am from Hungary. (That is why my english is pretty bad so please forgive me!)
I have Googled “good beginner tarantula” and i just got here in November. Everybody suggested for me to get a GBB (i will never be able to pronounce the latin name) or a Smithi. But then I got here and felt in love with Euathlus sp. red. Inmediately. Then I found out that there are a lot of videos about them on YouTube and the uploader were You! So i decided i will get one no matter what. These dwarf species are not really popular here or just the rate of growing made it impossible to get one. But I found one at a hungarian expo and bought it smth for like 20-25 bucks. They told me that she is one year old and is a SHE. I dont know how they were able to determinate if but honestly? When I watch her/him I dont really care about the sex because i find her/him CUTE. Like when i see it walking on the container’s wall or digging around. I usually end up watching her.
Anyway. My first tarantula is a Euathlus sp red and i will try to get a few more different Euathlus. You were the guy who helped me to get into the hobby. You are the responsible person who made my GF angry when I told her that I want a spider in my room! (HAHA!)
So i just wanted to thank you. I cannot find any different words to tell you how much I thank you.
Greetings from Hungary:
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First off, your English is excellent! 🙂
Thanks so much for your email. How large is your Euathlus? They tend to be VERY slow growing, and start as tiny slings, so if they were able to sex her, I’m guessing she’s got to be pretty good size. Those spiders are very popular here in the States, but they’ve become very difficult to find. They are just such a cute and inquisitive species!
And I get blamed by a LOT of guys for getting them hooked on this hobby. Hahaha. Please tell your GF that I’m sorry. 🙂
Thanks again so much for your amazing email!!!
All the best!
I’d say any Lasiodora if purchased as a large sling or small juvenile aka 1.5-3 inches. They grow fast, are fairly hardy and have a dynamite feeding response without being overly defensive or aggressive.
They have nasty hairs and this discourages bad habits such as excessive handling or placing ones hands carelessly in front of the spider while not terrorizing the keeper whenever the cage is opened up. Overall they are calm and visually impressive when they grow up. They are great display spiders once they get enough size, will impress everyone in a positive way.
The biggest difference is the purchase price and appearance of the spiderl. Husbandry is essentially identical for all species in the genus.
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