Do Tarantulas Hibernate? Facts and Tips for Owners


Perhaps you have been staring at your Tarantula for a few days because you have noticed that he’s hardly moved at all. It’s really cold outside, and you might have been fooled into thinking he is hibernating, or worse, he might have even taken up the death curl, and you are unsure if he is even alive. Do tarantulas hibernate?

Tarantulas do not hibernate in the strict sense of the term. They are cold-blooded, and when their environment becomes too cold they simply stop moving. However, in warmer climates tarantulas will be active all the time.

It’s always a good idea to get a good grip on the habits of your pet. This will stand you in good stead when you feel things are not quite right. So, your tarantula has been still for days. Is it asleep? Or well, or simply ‘hibernating’? 

tarantula under a rock

Is your Tarantula hibernating? 

The fact is, the real answer to this question is, yes and no! He is sort of hibernating.

Tarantulas are cold-blooded creatures, and what this means is that they react to weather directly outside of their bodies, whether is it very cold or very warm.

When it is very cold, they become cold, and they become less active, stay still for long periods and eat less.

The eating less thing could be because they do not need food, coupled with the fact that they really couldn’t be bothered to look for food in this chilly environment. This could look very much like hibernating.

Some spider owners worry if their beloved spider starts to lose weight and look like a shadow of its former self. 

A State of Stillness 

When Tarantulas become still like this, it is more a state of sedate stillness, because should the day become warmer, for example, they will become active that day and hunt for food as any spider would.

This could come across as very confusing to their owners. They are simply reacting to the temperature of their environment.

This is therefore not hibernation in the truest sense of the word. Once the weather heats them up, and they have eaten they will go back to this stillness if the temperature drops again. 

When they are in this sedate state, they will breathe a little slower and, of course, stop moving around.

They might spin a web around themselves or hide under some leaves or other wood forest objects. They do this because they do not wish to be preyed upon by larger creatures, and they also just want to be alone in this state. 

In captivity, they do not hibernate so much because often the natural world temperatures are modified indoors. If we live in a colder climate, we tend to use heating, of course, and if the heating varies a lot, it could cause this in and out type of hibernation. 

Tarantulas that live in colder climates will use this sedate behavior as opposed to those that live in warmer climates where they won’t do this at all.

In warmer climates, Tarantulas are always active and will carry on about their day as if nothing has happened, rarely entering this still sedate state.  Enjoying a nice catch they made that day, or scurrying around their home looking for exercise and other fun things to do. [Source]

hairy tarantula on a tree

So, what do you do if you own a Tarantula and live in a particularly cold place? Here are some tips to bear in mind. 

Top Tips For Your Tarantula When They Stop Moving

1. Keep An Eye on Your Spiders Eating 

As mentioned earlier, one of the signs that a spider is cold is that he will stop eating. This is partially because he is not moving due to being in a very still state.

If a spider is not eating enough, he will lose weight and look worse for wear.  Everything slows down when he is very cold.

This type of hibernating is not necessary when a spider is in captivity, so if you want to avoid your spider going still on you or even mimicking a death curl. Then aim to keep him warmer. 

2. Make Sure You Know Which Spider You Have 

Some Tarantulas can take colder temperatures and some cannot. There is however, a limit on how cold they will go overall. Make sure you know your breed of Tarantula and try to mimic his natural environment if you can.

If your spider comes from a long genetic lineage of spiders who liked to be warm and hailed from the tropics, then you need to make some changes to his tank to make him comfortable in the frostier days of winter. 

3. Consider Purchasing Spider Heaters for His Tank 

You might consider buying your Tarantula a heating system in the winter when the weather gets cold, if he is a spider that prefers warmth.

Some owners use them all year round so that their spider does not endure heat changes. Heat pads are quite popular among tarantula pet owners.

Whilst some love them others are not so keen, being afraid that their spider will overheat or burn his legs and become ill.

Check your heat pad only goes up to a certain temperature and remains constant, by using a thermostat. You can also place heat mats at the sides of his tank instead of the floor. That way when spiders pass over it they will not suffer any injury. 

You can also try heat strips, particularly if you have a number of spiders to keep warm in different tanks. They are pretty much the same thing as a heating pad, but slimmer and able to heat more than one tank. 

Tips when using heaters 

  • Place the heaters to the side of the tank, not underneath the spider. This warms the air instead of their feet. 
  • Consider only warming one side of the tank, so that your pet can move away if he is too warm, and go to a cooler side of the tank where there is no heater. 

If you are using heat pads or not, but particularly if you are, install a thermostat to ensure your spider is at its optimal warmth over the winter. You can monitor the temperature of his tank over this period, and also ensure that he is not overheated. [Source]

4. Just Use Your Own Heating  

You can also keep your spider out of his semi-hibernation by keeping your own house heater running at a regular temperature. This often works very well for spiders.

It depends on how much you want to spend on heating at home, it could work out more effective for you if you run spider heaters as opposed to your own.

Some owners also go out each day and prefer to switch off their heater, but the temperature changes could stress your Tarantula out. 

Summary

Tarantulas are not true hibernators, although if they are out in the wild and the temperature drops, they will become inactive for a time.

It is a method of survival, since they do not eat during these times and will also find it harder to find food. They go into a state of deep sleep or survival mode. Some will even curl their legs up as in the death curl, but they are alive. 

In a domestic setting, your spider will not have to use this behavior to survive, which is good for many spider owners, as some miss their spiders when they are curled up or covered in webs to go into their hibernation mode. 

This can be avoided if you use the correct heaters at the correct temperatures for your spider. There are several heaters you can use.

Do some homework on each one, and decide on a product that is in line with your budget and your spider’s needs. If you are at home all day, using your own heating system and keeping it constant will work just as well. 

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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