Adventures with Tarantulas

This topic submitted by randy, maryjane, nicole, langston, eric, sean ( at 11:07 pm on 10/24/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Cummins


The purpose of this experiment was to discover more about tarantulas. We would like to share our experiences with the tarantulas to our classmates. They are (in the case of the Peruvian Pink Toe) docile and communal creatures that need not be feared.


The purpose of our study was to learn more about tarantulas: their growth and behavior. Our hypothesis was that we could disprove Dyar's constant. Dyar's constant states that a tarantula will increase its size by 1.7 times with each molt. We believed that with our 10 tarantulas feeding them the same amount of crickets we could disprove this theory. Even though none of the baby tarantulas have molted yet, they already show differences in growth rates and this may hold still hold true when they molt.

An alternate hypothesis was created when the dilemma of the cricket population arose. A focus on tarantula behavior was formulated. Peruvian Pink Toe Tarantulas are theoretically communal creatures, therefore if they are put into a communal setting then they would be more likely to thrive (growth, activity and intake of food would increase).

We chose this subject for research because we wanted to dispel the myths of the aggressive and intimidating tarantula to our classmates. Hopefully our observations will prove to the class that they are docile and not something to be feared any longer.


There is no descriptive research upon our topic. There are plenty of sources on how to care for a tarantula as a pet, but not on empirical research of tarantulas in captivity or the wild. The data that was collected was informative on what sort of environment they need to survive and what conditions seemed to be more conducive to the spider and the spider's health. There are vague references to their behavior but not descriptive as to what caused these behaviors or whether they were just sweeping generalizations.

This question affects us all in a broader way. For those of us in the group that routinely deal with the tarantulas we have had to overcome our previous fears and found new ones in dealing with their frailty and speed. Hopefully our overcoming of these fears will show our classmates that there is nothing to fear from these docile creatures.

Materials and Methods

The contrived design plan is to separate the 10 Peruvian Pink Toe Tarantulas into 4 groups. The number of spiders per group will go as follows:4, 3, 2,1. Each group will live in a separate tank and live communally (with the exception of the sole member of group 4). Each group will be located in the same vicinity as the others and a constant temperature and humidity will be attempted as a control. Two crickets will be put in per spider in a group. Recordings will be made as to how many crickets were consumed per group (on average), growth and incidences of molting will also be noted. Our data will show us whether collective living has a more positive effect upon their growth than solitary does.

The design is considered to be statistically sound because the only variable is the number of tarantulas in a given group. The other variables will be controlled. The data collected will be empirical and exact, there are not too many uncontrolled fluctuations in their environment that all of them will not encounter.

The data will be unbiased because the number of crickets consumed and growth per group will be statistically compared.

The data collected by the class will be simple to collect. They will monitor: how many crickets are still alive the next day after a feeding (so we can later remove them so no undue stress is put upon the tarantula), check the temperature, look at water levels. The observers will also be accompanied by the group for any questions that arise during the observations and to prevent harm to the spiders.

Four tanks will be necessary of four varying sizes in which to house the tarantulas. Substrate, rocks and foliage for the spiderlings. Instruments are required with which to monitor temperature and humidity within each tank. Lastly, a steady supply of small crickets are necessary for growth to occur.

The class' involvement will be to go through the steps of observation the day of our presentation, we will feed and weigh the spiders the evening beforehand. They will be asked to process no data, only to see how observant they are to the needs of the tarantulas. Following the observation, we will lecture and then questions about the tarantulas (specific and general) along with myth or fact questions will be rewarded with appropriate Halloween candy to celebrate the holiday, and to positively reinforce the facts.


*daily observations will also be made by group members

Sunday, October 22Transfer Peruvian Pink Toe Tarantulas into 4 tanks
Monday, October 30Feed
Tuesday, October 31Class Observations/Presentation
Sunday, November 5Feed
Sunday, November 12Feed
Sunday, November 19Feed
Sunday, November 26 Feed
Monday, November 27Begin conclusions on Final Discovery Lab Report
Sunday, December 3Feed
Friday, December 8Final Discovery Lab Due

Literature Cited

Hale, Ray & Angela "The Cause and Effect on the Bite of Selenocosmia Lanipes"

Oct. 1999 BTS

Holmes, Mackenzie; Lindsay, Faith; Waterman, Jenn "Tarantula Anatomy" 2000

Gallon, Richard "A Review Substrates Used in Tarantula Vivaria"

Gearheart, Todd "Beginners Guide to the Tarantula Keeping Hobby"


Martin, Doug "Basic Tarantula Care" 1998


Martin, Doug "Impact of Tarantula Defenses on Humans" 1998


Martin, Doug "Tarantula Terminology" 1998


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