If you see your pet tarantula resting on its back, do not touch it because it is especially vulnerable at this time. 1 It can be extremely frightening to see your tarantula in this obviously abnormal position, but it is most likely simply because it is starting to molt. The majority of tarantulas molt while lying on their backs (though some will molt on their sides).
Molting often takes 15 minutes to a whole day, so keep an eye on your tarantula (remember to not touch it). You should be able to tell if it was molting based on the molt proof it left behind. Mature tarantulas molt once a year, but younger tarantulas molt more frequently.
You may notice several physical and behavioral changes in your pet tarantula before it molts. Because molting can be stressful for your tarantula, there are some special care instructions you should follow both during and after the molting process.
Signs and Behavior Changes On Pet Tarantula
- Keep an eye out for decreased movement. Is your pet tarantula circling less than usual? Tarantulas sometimes stop moving or do not move at all before molting to preserve energy. If your tarantula hasn’t moved much recently, it could be a sign that she’s preparing to molt.
- Take note of the refusal to eat. Is your pet tarantula eating food? Tarantulas will cease eating for extended periods of time, ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months, before to a major molt. If you’ve observed that your tarantula hasn’t been eating or has been eating less than normal, this could mean that she’s about to molt.
- The formation of a bald spot. Tarantulas may also develop a bald area on their abdomen that darkens as the molt approaches (a bald spot can also occur in New World tarantulas that have been kicking off their urticating hairs). The bald spot will vanish after molting.
Note: Tarantula have an exoskeleton, thus in order to grow, they must shed the old exoskeleton and form a new one. As a result, younger tarantulas molt more frequently (up to once a month) than older tarantulas (who may only molt every year or two).
What To Do After Molting?
Keep your pet tarantula alone. Tarantulas can be injured or even killed if they are disturbed when molting. As a result, it is critical to let your tarantula alone while she molts. Plan to leave your tarantula while she is molting and for at least one week after she has molted. Pick up and/or hold your tarantula at least one week after it has molted.
After your tarantula molts, remove the exoskeleton from the cage. You can remove your tarantula’s exoskeleton from her cage once she has lost her exoskeleton completely. Pick up the exoskeleton with a pair of tweezers.
Feedings should be avoided for three to five days after your tarantula has molted. Following a molt, your tarantula will be more sensitive and prone to injury, which implies that its usual prey may harm her. As a result, do not feed your tarantula for as least a few days after it has molted.
While your tarantula will be unable to hunt after molting, she will still want water. Keep a consistent supply of fresh water for your tarantula.
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