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This comprehensive care guide will show you how to look after a Bird Eating Spider or Australian Tarantula in 3 easy steps

Fast Facts:

How long will my Bird Eating Spider live? They can live from 15-20 years

How big will my Bird Eating Spider grow? They will grow 5-12cm in leg span

What size of tank is recommended for my Bird Eating Spider? They require a minimum tank size of 30 x 30 x 30cm with lid.

What does a Bird Eating Spider eat? - Crickets, woodies, silkworms and pinky mice

How easy are Spiders to look after? They are a low maintenance pet

Introduction and Origin

The Bird Eating Spiders (Also known as the “Barking Spider” or “Whistling Spider”) are the largest spiders in Australia. They belong to the family known as Tarantulas, but are more ferocious than their American cousins. Having fangs up to 8mm long, they are not an animal to be cuddled and kissed, but make an excellent display in a terrarium suitable to their needs. They are found in the northern regions of Australia, where conditions are hot and humid. They are often seen at the base of large trees, foraging for insects, caterpillars or small rodents. Colours can vary from dark brown in the thick forests to light grey on the open plains, and often confuse people as to which species is which. They can reach a length of 55 mm, the male being slightly smaller and slimmer. These spiders are covered with velvety hairs & have small eyes located on a clump at the front of their head. They have long hairs on their legs & tufts around their claws which help them move freely over smooth surfaces.

Bird Eating Spider Housing

There are many different species of Australian native tarantula and they are generally found throughout the northern and central parts of Australia.

Colours can vary between species from dark brown in the thick forests to light grey on the open plains.

A glass enclosure of at least 30 x 30 x 30cm with a secure lid is required to house any tarantula. They love to burrow, and so provision of deep peat-soil substrate (min. 10cm), pipes, hollow logs and caves are important. The substrate should be kept dry at one end and damp at the other (but not wet), providing the spider with a moisture gradient. Tarantulas require high levels of humidity so the tank should be misted with water 2-3 times per week. A layer of sphagnum moss can also be used to hold moisture. Red lights will encourage spiders out of hiding during the daytime, essential for a display enclosure.

Bird Eating Spider Care

Australian tarantulas come from the hot and humid regions of northern Australia. They are an ectotherms (“cold-blooded”), and therefore require an artificial heat source in their enclosure. A good quality heat mat, heat cord or thermostatically controlled infrared heat lamp (on larger enclosures only) can be used to provide the spider with an ideal temperature gradient within its enclosure. Temperatures should be regulated between 22°C and 28°C.

Tarantulas require high levels of humidity between 60-80%. This is achieved by misting the ‘damp’ end of the enclosure daily. It is important to ensure the substrate is moist, however excessive amounts of water can also cause problems for the spider.

Spiders are very clean animals, and are extremely efficient in using the food they consume. This means cleaning is minimal. Wiping the glass with warm water and drying with paper towel weekly, removal of prey carcasses, and a major clean with complete substrate change every six months is sufficient.

Note: Tongs should always be used when feeding, or removing items from the enclosure.

Bird Eating Spider Feeding

Australian tarantulas are ambush predators, they will wait in their burrow and attack their prey that walks by. This prey often includes insects, caterpillars or small rodents.

Tarantulas do not have teeth and rely on their digestive juices to break down their food. They love to eat crickets, woodies, grasshoppers and silkworms. In captivity, they can be encouraged to eat “Pinky” mice as well, as a treat.

In captivity you should offer your tarantula a variety of prey at different times. They should be offered live insects on a weekly basis. They may not eat every time they are fed, so any dead or uneaten insects and other waste should be removed. A wet sponge should be provided for your spider to drink from.

During your spiders moult you should not feed it, as the spider is incapable of eating during this time, and live insects could possibly harm your spider.



Tarantulas are an observation pet only, and handling should be avoided.
Australian Tarantulas can give a painful bite but are not usually considered dangerous. First aid for a bite is to apply a cold pack and to seek medical aid if pain persists.

Recommended for ages 18+

We have created a Shopping list to show what you need to look after a Bird Eating Spider:

  • Enclosure; 30 x 30 x 30cm minimum with lid
  • Substrate
  • Ornaments
  • Cave hides
  • Heat mat
  • Water sprayer
  • Infrared heat light
  • Thermostat
  • Feeding tongs
  • Crickets
  • Woodies
  • Pinky mice

Common health issues in Bird Eating Spiders

Dehydration: If the enclosure does not have the proper humidity levels your spider will lose condition and appear lethargic; If the humidity is not addressed in time this can lead to death.

Mites: If the enclosure is not kept clean, mite infestations may develop.

Loss of Appetite: Enclosures must be heated all year round. If the enclosure becomes to cold, particularly in winter, your spider may lose its appetite which can lead to loss of condition, and even death.

Red flags

Is your Bird Eating Spider showing any of the signs of disease or illness? If yes, please consult your reptile vet.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Active during the day

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FACT SHEET © Copyright 2016 Kellyville Pets - The information in this brochure is meant as a guide only. Kellyville Pets take no responsibility of any description for any consequence and or result that may eventuate as a consequence of any information obtained from this brochure.