Chilean Rose Tarantula

Chilean Rose Tarantula Care Sheet

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Care & Information

The Chilean Rose is quite possibly the most commonly kept species of Tarantula kept today, perhaps only in contest for the title with the Mexican Red Knee Tarantula. The Chilean Rose has a venomous bite which has been described as similar in potency to the sting of a bee, and this species is not recommended to anyone that suffers from anaphylactic shock. The spider also possesses urticating hairs on its abdomen, which it can flick outwards at a potential threat or when stressed. These hairs cause irritation and can be quite nasty, so as with almost any tarantula species handling is best avoided unless really necessary. Colour within the species varies somewhat, although most specimens are a copper brown colour and have a pink patch on their back.

The Chilean Rose, as its name might suggest, comes from Chile and the surrounding regions. These areas are hot during the day, forcing the tarantulas to burrow to avoid the heat, and cooler at night when they come out to hunt and feed. They are a terrestrial burrowing species, meaning they do not climb around much and prefer to stay on the ground. It is for this reason that they need an enclosure set up with a heat source above, as mentioned later.

Size and Longevity
As with a lot of tarantula species, females generally live a lot longer than males. It is almost impossible to sex a tarantula when young, so upon purchasing a spiderling (baby spider) you can not be sure which sex it is. Male Chilean Rose Tarantulas can live up to 2 or 3 years, and females will live up to 15 years. A fully grown Chilie Rose will be roughly the size of your palm, with a leg span of up to 6 inches.

As already mentioned, handling of tarantulas should be kept to a minimum apart from when necessary. This species is capable of injecting venom through a nasty bite, and while most people will only feel the effect similar to a bee sting there are some that may react badly to it. Over handling and other factors, such as a bad enclosure and the wrong temperatures, can lead to your tarantula flicking its urticating hairs at you. It is all too common to see stressed Chilean Roses with bald patches on their abdomens, so be sure not to stress the tarantula.

Purchasing a Chilean Rose
When purchasing a Chilean Rose, you can either visit an exotic pet shop or look for a breeder. Most breeders can send out tarantulas through next day post, although this means you will not get to look at the tarantula before buying it. Pet shop prices will be slightly higher but the staff will be able to show you the animal prior to purchase and let you know more about its care and how to house it. You should always purchase the setup first and have it ready for the new tarantula before actually buying it, so it is ready to go straight into its new environment with minimal stress. If possible, ask to see the tarantula feed before buying it.

Signs of Ill Health in Chilean Rose Tarantulas
It is essential to know what problems to look out for in any pet you have or may want to purchase. You should always check for these signs before purchasing it and continue to check regularly afterwards if you go ahead and buy it. The most obvious sign of illness in tarantulas is when they adopt the ‘spider death pose’, laying on their back with their legs in the air. Any tarantula laying like this is either shedding, dead or dying. Avoid buying a specimen in this condition as it should not be moved if shedding, and should not be purchased if ill. Bald spots can indicate stress and rearing up is a sign of aggression, but these are less serious problems.

The diet of a tarantula is pretty basic, with one or two appropriately sized locust being offered once a twice a week being sufficient. Offer the insects live so that the tarantula can hunt them itself, which helps to keep it healthy through exercise and can also be fascinating to watch. For spiderlings, offer locust hoppers smaller than the tarantula. As the spiders grow increase the size of their prey too, up until they are adult and feeding on adult locusts.

Gut-Loading & Supplements
The insects in the diet are not very nutritious on their own and so should be gut-loaded before being fed to your Chilean Rose Tarantula. Leave them in a tub with bran, dark greens and/or some fruit and veg such as orange or grated carrot. Be careful not to raise the humidity in the tub your feeder insects are in too much by adding wet food, as this can kill locust very quickly. This ensures that your insects are full of nutrients for your Tarantula, just as they would be in the wild. However, feeder insects are still very low in calcium, which is a very important part of your Tarantulas diet. In the wild, Chilie Roses would pick up calcium through a more varied diet and accidental ingestion of soil, but in captivity a supplement such as Nutrobal should be used instead. Around twice a week the insects should be dusted in supplement powder before being fed to your Tarantula.

As tarantulas grow from spiderlings to adult spiders they will periodically shed their skin, although once fully grown they cease to do so. The shedding process is a long and stressful one for your spider, as it will become immobilised for part of the process and in the wild would be much more at danger from predators. Touching a Chilean Rose during shedding can cause it serious stress and/or harm so should be avoided. Do not feed during shedding. A Tarantula may go off its food up to a fortnight prior to shedding, so if it stops eating but seems otherwise healthy do not feed until a week after it finishes shedding. Once the outer skin is completely shed it can be removed, though do not attempt to handle, feed or disturb your Chilie Rose for another week, as the new exoskeleton and fangs need time to harden.


Setting Up Chilean Rose Tarantula Enclosures

Choosing Enclosures
As Chilean Roses start off so small, you should ideally keep spiderlings in a cricket tub, with a small layer of eco-earth substrate at the bottom. These allow suitable ventilation but are not so big as that the tarantula will not be able to catch its food. Once the tarantulas leg span is as wide as the cricket tub, it can be moved up into its permanent enclosure. This should preferably be a glass tank with a screen wire top, with a lock or locking doors for security. The range of glass tanks made by Exo-Terra are ideal, with a 30x30x45cm or larger tank being perfectly suitable to a single Tarantula. Never keep more than one in the same tank.

Heating the Enclosure
It is very important not to use under tank heating with tarantulas. In the wild when the sun is out during the hotter parts of the day, Chilean Roses will burrow to escape the heat. If in an enclosure with heating underneath, they would burrow when too hot only to get even hotter, and most likely die. Instead, try attaching a heat mat to the back wall of the tank. This gives a heat gradient, with a warmer back and cooler front to the tank. If the Tarantula decides to burrow, as it most likely will, it will also be cooler under the substrate.

Temperatures and Humidity
In the summer a Chilean Rose may survive without any heat source, but during the colder months it is probably better to have the heat mat turned on. You should control the temperature using a thermostat, and aim for a warm spot of around 26*C. Humidity should be kept quite high, around 70% at all times, but the substrate should be dry rather than wet or damp. This is best achieved by placing a pile of sphagnum moss within the enclosure and spraying it every day to keep it moist. Do not spray the entire tank unless necessary, and if you do choose to do so then let it dry out completely in between each misting. If kept damp most of the time, the tank will soon become a breeding ground for mould and bacteria.

Lighting the Enclosure
Lighting is less important with Tarantulas than with other animals, and often the light of the room they are kept in is enough. As long as they can tell the difference between day and night, they will be fine without their own light source. Some people choose to use a spot light above the tank, or a fluorescent UV tube light, but these are not essential. Be sure to keep it dark once night has fallen, as Tarantulas do not like bright lights and should be left alone and undisturbed at night.

A number of substrates can be used in your Chilean Roses enclosure, but by the far the best is eco-earth. This is a safe soil mix which is sold as a solid brick, which when left in a tub with water will expand into a damp soil. This should be left to dry out before being put into the tank, and can be mixed in with orchid bark to help keep humidity even longer. Some people choose to buy peat or soil mixes from garden centres, but these are not always safe for your pet. Never take soil from outside as this can contain pesticides, bacteria and is generally dangerous. Use eco-earth or another brand of reptile soil sold as an inexpensive solid brick.

Essentials in the Enclosure
With a deep substrate in the tank and suitable heat source at the back, there is little else you actually need in the vivarium. It will be a good idea to include some moss to aid in sustaining the higher humidity required by the species. Be sure that the substrate is at least as deep as the Tarantulas leg span, so a Chilie Rose with a 5’’ leg span would need a minimum of 5’’ of substrate in the bottom of the enclosure. It is up to you if you want to dig a small burrow yourself, which the Tarantula will no doubt modify to suit its own needs, or allow the Chilean Rose to do all the work itself. Fresh water should be offered in a shallow dish every day.

Optional Decor in the Enclosure
Once you have an enclosure prepared with a water dish and plenty of substrate, you can think about including a few branches or fake plants to make the enclosure seem more naturalistic and attractive. The Tarantula may make use of these branches from time to time, and may spread a web over them to help it catch the prey you offer it. Fake plants will also help to keep the burrow sheltered from bright light and the Tarantula feel more secure.

Things To Remember 

A major factor of disease and problems with Tarantulas is stress. A major factor of stress is over handling of your pet. Put the two together and remember it. Try not to handle a Chilean Rose unless it is really necessary, both Tarantula and keeper can suffer badly from over handling. Do not handle or feed at all during shedding, or directly afterwards. Never try to dig your Chilie Rose out of its burrow as this will cause unnecessary stress, and try not to get it out when there are bright lights around. Any necessary handling is best kept until the evening. Obviously remember to close the enclosure properly after handling or feeding, as if left open your Tarantula will soon go missing. The last thing most neighbours want is a Tarantula on the loose, and your spider will be at serious threat from any other household pets. Please remember that a lot of people are arachnophobic and be careful and responsible with your Tarantula. Do not force it upon someone who is afraid as these situations can often result in the other person killing the Tarantula out of sheer fright.

Also, please remember that every Chilean Rose has its own personality, attitude and habits. The information in this care sheet comes from what I have learned about the average Chilie Rose and my own experiences with them, but it is in no way certain that everything here will apply to your own. Although most Chilean Roses are more defensive than aggressive, some can be aggressive and unpredictable throughout their entire life. Almost every Tarantula likes to hide away when sleeping, though yours may decide to sleep outside of its burrow. Each individual is different and it is important to respect that and to get to know your pet.