Sexing Tarantulas is a very tricky business. Even experts have a hard time sexing a tarantula. A male tarantula could easily be taken for a female if it gets too big.
The best and accurate way to sex your tarantula is to wait until they are fully mature. Females can be identified by looking into their molts for their ovaries. Female specimens will have a skin-like flap in their sexual opening also called the epigastric furrow, just between the upper booklungs, this is called spermathecae. Females will store a male’s sperm in the spermathecae. Female Tarantulas are bulkier and have larger abdomens compared to the males.
Male tarantulas have smaller bodies and the tips of their pedipalps (short leg-like appendages located next to the fangs) will look like boxing gloves. Also males of this specie will develop tibial hooks or spurs on their 1st legs when they reach maturity (tibial hooks are not present in some of the species). These hooks are used mainly to hold the female’s fangs while mating.
Décor and Accessories:
Slings may need a hide depending on the size of the enclosure.
Adult and juveniles will need a hide if they are kept in a larger enclosure. A hollowed bark is perfect since it provides both shelter and climbing spots for your tarantula. For this specie, it is recommended to set the hollowed log horizontally. If flora should be added, use fake ones. Real plants will attract mites and other pests. Leave the real plants to the hardcore experts. Also, do not put too much flora since this will only create hiding spots for the prey. Rocks are also optional to add beauty, just be sure that there are no sharp edges. Other accessories may be added as décor.
Caution: In setting up your enclosure, be sure that everything will stay into place. Things that might get knocked down or fall or roll out of place could potentially hurt and kill your tarantula. Remember that this specie likes to dig. Accessories should be rooted in place.
Lighting and heating:
Tarantulas are nocturnal creatures, thus they do not need lighting. Direct sunlight or any source of bright light is highly discouraged. A UV bulb can be used for display cases but must not be left on for a long period. Only switch it on when you’re viewing and switch it off when you’re done.
In tropical areas, heating is not needed. Room temperature will do quite well. However, in areas where winter season is applicable, a large room heater can be used during winter. Basking lights are highly discouraged because it can dry out the enclosure and the tarantula may not sense the heat and die. Heating pads that stick to the bottom or side of the tank are also discouraged. Tarantulas cannot sense hot spots and may die of dehydration.
Generally, whatever temperature you are comfortable with works fine for your tarantula. Tarantulas are more susceptible to heat than cold.
Feeding, Watering and Maintenance:
Slings can be fed a pinhead cricket or baby roach twice (or more often if desired) a week. As your tarantula grows, its prey should also grow with it. A good sized pray would be a prey roughly the same size as the tarantula’s abdomen. Enclosures shouldn’t be permitted to dry out. Your tarantula needs the humidity to keep its lungs clean and to help it breathe. Use a spray bottle and lightly mist one side of the enclosure. Be sure that the other half is dry, and be sure not to hit the tarantula when you are misting as this will only annoy them. Smaller slings will drink from the substrate or from dews forming as the water condenses. Larger slings will need a small and shallow water dish, be sure that the water dish will not be easily flipped over. An obligatory rock or stones should be in the middle of your dish, so in the likelihood that your tarantula falls, it will have something to climb on to to avoid drowning. A water dish should always have clean water. Uneaten prey (for more than 24 hours) should be taken out, as well as insect shells and leftovers (food boluses/balls) to avoid mold and attracting mites.
Juvenile and adult tarantulas can be fed bigger prey and any leftovers, shells and uneaten prey should be removed. A water dish should always be filled with clean water. For humidity, you can either spay one side of the enclosure with water or you can pour as small amount of water to one side of the substrate. If you notice mites or mold, it is best to replace your substrate.
Prey items may include crickets, meal worms, roaches, maggots and wingless fruit flies. Avoid feeding your tarantula items caught in the wild as they may be infected with disease or toxic substances from insecticides and pesticides. Larger species can be fed an occasional pinky mouse for variety. Do not feed your tarantula mice on a regular basis, the excess calcium will cause some molting problems for your tarantula.
The enclosure, water dish, spray bottle and accessories may be washed using water only. A gentle dishwashing liquid mixed with a lot of water may be used but be sure that the item being washed is rinsed thoroughly.
Since the Chaco Golden Knee is somewhat of a digger, you may need to level the substrate every once in a while if you desire.
Note: If your tarantula refuses to eat a prey, remove any uneaten prey after 24 hours and wait for 3 days up to 1 week before trying to feed it again. Aside from attracting mites and other parasites, the tarantula might be desensitized by the presence of the prey and would stop eating. Tarantulas rely on sudden movements to detect prey, if you leave prey in the enclosure for long periods of time, they might get used to a lot of movement and may entirely ignore the prey.
Tarantulas are arthropods thus they undergo a process called molting. As a tarantula grows they need to rid themselves of their old and tightening exoskeleton in order to grow. As the tarantula grows larger it will shed less often. This is a very critical state since after your tarantula molts it will be defenseless because their exoskeleton and their fangs are soft and needs time to harden. Handling a tarantula in pre-molt and post-molt is also highly discouraged. Wait for a week after your tarantula molts.
Pre-molt is recognizable when your tarantula’s color is getting dull and a black patch is visible on the back of its abdomen. During this state, your tarantula is most likely to refuse meals as they are growing new fangs (tarantulas will shed everything, including their fangs). They will refuse to eat for a week up to a few months depending on their size. This is normal.
During a pre-molt, your tarantula might be somewhat irritable, it is best to leave it alone. Just be sure that you provide it with plenty of water as this is their only source of sustenance. It is also important not to handle your tarantula while it is in a pre and post molt stage. This is because your tarantula needs all the energy it can to successfully molt and to recover from a molt. Handling your tarantula in a pre or post molt stage will only expend precious energy it needs to molt and recover.
When your tarantula is finally molting, you may find it flipped on its back or on its side. Most people will assume that the tarantula is dead; in fact it is ready to molt. Do not disturb it; you don’t even want to be in that room. Increasing humidity (if you have a humidifier) is highly recommended.
After your tarantula molts, leave it alone for a week (for smaller specimens) up to 2 weeks (for adult specimens) for its exoskeleton and fangs to harden, do not even feed it. You will also notice that it will spend its days of recovery stretching. Do not disturb it. Just be sure that you supply it with plenty of water.
Molts should be taken out immediately to avoid mold
Preventing illness is best achieved by giving the tarantula the appropriate habitat and keeping the enclosure free from mold, mites, leftovers, molt and other parasites. Mold can form on their book lungs (which are located on the underside of their abdomens) and cause breathing problems. A sick tarantula should be moved to a Tarantula ICU for a week or until it has fully recovered.
If you find that your enclosure has mite infestation, immediately remove your tarantula and inspect it for any mites that are clinging on it. Here is where the pinch-grab method can prove to be useful. Using a damp paper towel or cotton swab, gently wipe away any mites sticking to your tarantula. Pay close attention to areas between the legs, joints, underside, around the mouth and be particularly careful when dealing with the booklungs. Clean out your enclosure and wash everything, throw out the substrate and replace with new substrate. To avoid contaminating other enclosures or tarantulas, always wash your hand after dealing with contaminated enclosures or tarantulas.
Treating your Tarantula’s Injuries:
If your tarantula falls or gets injured in any manner, you should watch it carefully. Look for a semi-clear milky white-ish substance oozing out of your tarantula. This is blood. Tarantula blood does not clot so wounds should be treated immediately to avoid excessive bleeding. Wounds can easily be treated by using a cue-tip and dabbing either water-based glue or liquid band aid directly into the wound. Be careful to only apply treatment of the wounded area as excessive glue or band aid can cause movement restrictions for your tarantula (especially if you are treating wounds in the leg and joint areas). Also take caution in treating wounds that are in the abdomen, be careful not to glue/band aid the anus, spinnerets, book lungs or the epigastric furrow. Lightly injured tarantulas can be kept in their enclosures while seriously injured tarantulas should spend at least a day to recover in an ICU.
A dehydrated tarantula is easily recognizable if its abdomen is slightly wrinkled or deflated. Apply treatment immediately. Using a medicine dropper or small syringe (without the needle), simply but very gently use the pinch-grab method and flip your tarantula over and drop water directly to its fangs (do not drown your tarantula, just a few drops). Then place your tarantula in an ICU until it is regained health.
Building a Tarantula ICU:
Building a tarantula ICU is fairly easy. All you need is a deli container (with air holes on the top and sides) a little bigger than your tarantula patient, a water dish and plenty paper towels. Just line the bottom and the sides of the enclosure with slightly damp (with water) paper towels, be sure that the sides are cushioned with paper towels before placing your tarantula in it. Place the water bowl with clean water inside and you’re done.
. I have found that feeding them two crickets twice a week is similar to power feeding, which I will only do until they reach between a quarter and a third of their adult size (this rule can be applied to all T’s) then I will drop down to one cricket twice a week.