As a spider parent, the temptation to have more pets may kick in, and, you may wonder whether you can safely and successfully keep more than one in the same habitat. Despite the various success stories, we will aim to establish whether the cases are isolated or backed by science.
Only a few spider species can live communally, but only if they started as hatchlings. It is difficult and risky to make adult spiders cohabit since they are infamous for cannibalism. Females eat the males after mating while the males get into blood fights over their territories.
Therefore, it is not advisable to keep the spiders together, especially as a beginner, since you risk their lives and severe injuries. Read on as we look at the tarantula’s ability to live with a mate or another of the same sex and the best spider species that can cohabit.
Do Tarantulas Cohabit?
Hobbyists and researchers are combative about the true nature of tarantulas. Some pet owners are certain that it is possible and have successfully experimented with having more than one spider in a single enclosure. In contrast, other animal behaviorists say that it is risky.
However, it is not advisable to keep tarantulas communally unless you want to mate them, and even so, you still need to be extra cautious. There are only a few exceptions of some species that can tolerate each other.
First, spiders, especially tarantulas, are infamous for their cannibalistic nature. Therefore, you risk death and serious injuries when you forced them to stay confined in a tiny enclosure. Only a small percentage of pet parents have disclosed that they have successfully kept more than one spider. Indeed, a handful of spiders can live peacefully, especially if they started living while still hatchlings.
Primarily, spiders don’t live together and are generally antisocial. Secondly, they tend to eat other spiders. Therefore, keeping them together is a great risk, and you need to prepare for huge losses. If they attack each other while in the vast wilderness, the chances are high that they will kill each other if you place them in the same tank. There are few documented cases of communal spiders. Even hatchlings can only live together for a while until the territorial instinct starts.
Looking at the most common pet spiders, the tarantula, both male and female spiders are ferocious to each other. There exists sexual cannibalism in their world where the female spiders attack and eat the males as soon as they mate. Some aggressive ones, especially virgins, even forego the entire process and attack the male before mating. On the contrary, males have territorial tendencies. They regard any other male as an intruder and competition that needs elimination.
The only chance of surviving in both instances is when the weaker one is fast enough to escape the predatory jaws. Otherwise, equally matched spiders have prolonged battles that can go either way. Males are usually on the receiving end of attacks since male and female spiders can attack them.
When Do Tarantulas Cohabit?
Although they are not each other’s big fans, tarantulas need each other to survive. There are specific instances where you must keep them in one enclosure. Take a look at the exception.
The only time that you need to place a male in a female enclosure is during mating. Wild tarantulas are known to travel miles and face great adversaries in their quest to find a viable mate. They are aware of the dangers they face but are still bold enough to approach the females; therefore, if you wish to breed spiders, it is the only time to make them cohabit. However, you need to prepare for any injuries and near-death experience since females are ruthless with to males. They use the slightest opportunity to attack and feast on the highly nutritious flesh.
This forced cohabiting has its rules. First, there is no courting period; you have to reduce the contact time to copulation only. The more time they spend together puts the male at risk of cannibalism. The best way to go is to get it out of there as soon as the process ends.
Tarantulas have a mating season, typically in the fall, but they can change depending on several factors. You also have to consider the female. Usually, it is only best for her to mate if she recently molted, say a few months ago.
Females utilize the deposited sperms during molting. Hence, if she has not been molted in a long time, the sperms will only go to waste during her subsequent molting. For the males, they have to be sexually mature first. The surest way to check is by observing whether it has its front limbs’ hooks, but if the species doesn’t hook out, you can tell by the presence of the “sperm web” in the paldipulps.
How To Start a Communal Setup
You must have heard success stories of keeping many tarantula species, but the owners will attest that it isn’t easy. For one, you have to keep them in a small tank where they can easily encounter each other. Keeping them in a large enclosure heightens the males’ territorial instinct and consequently cannibalism. They can live better if you feed them simultaneously and are together in a confined space.
The main reason for cannibalism is scarcity. If you can deal with that, you will tremendously reduce the number and cases of casualties. Consider giving the whole colony enough food for everyone. Secondly, if one member is withdrawn from the rest for some reason, it is best to separate it. Given that the spiders take long to trust each other, the other spiders will likely attack the loner. Another trick is to ensure that they are of approximately the same size, and you have better success chances when dealing with spiderlings other than adult tarantulas.
The recommended population is around seven spiders. Since the main intention is to see the entire communal cycle, your best bet is to have both males and females. To say that you kept a community, you must record all the spider’s growth processes, from mating to hatching, and eventually maturity. Most preferably, you should see at least three spider generations in the enclosure. It is pretty tasking to keep tarantulas together, and it is not advisable for beginners. Only veteran keepers and hobbyists can manage to see the entire process through.
Communal Tarantula Species
Most tarantula species are not fit to be in the same habitat due to their territorial and cannibalistic tendencies. However, the good news is that isolated species can live and thrive while in the same enclosure. They can only coexist, provided that you follow certain precautions. Notably, when these spiders are in their natural set up, they tend to live in isolation, and it is rare to find them in groups unless it is a male and a female mating during a particular season.
There are some rare examples of spiders that you can keep together. For instance, we have the Balfouri tarantula species that are quite friendly to their counterparts. In contrast, the Asian Cobalt Blues cannot cohabit regardless. Therefore, we investigated further to determine the most communal spider species.
The Ornate Tiger Spider is one such species. It is native to Sri Lanka and is also known as the fringed ornamental. The arachnid is among the largest tarantula species, with legs reaching over twenty centimeters in females. The species has the same color as the tiger spiders, but you can tell them apart by their purplish or greenish-yellow tinge on their exoskeleton.
This spider feeds entirely on flying insects by paralyzing them even without using its silk. While in the wild, the tarantula is said to share its habitat with fellow spiders and even frogs. They also mutually coexist in their respective habitats. Presumably, the frogs guard the spider’s eggs against being devoured by ants, while the tarantula protects the frog from certain predators. Due to this symbiotic relationship and keen observations from various pet tarantula enthusiasts, the ornate spider is one of the most communal spider species.
The second on our list is the Monocentropus Balfouri, which is mostly known as the Socotra Island Blue Baboon. The spider is endemic to Madagascar and Yemen. Many hobbyists have voted the spider as one of the most beautiful and social tarantulas in captivity. To best keep the species, you can opt to breed them then rear the hatchlings together instead of buying them while adults from different breeders and forcing them to stay together. It will take time before they familiarize themselves with each other, and some may be skeptical and wary of each other.
Socotra spiders can live comfortably even in confined habitats without becoming cannibalistic. They will still burrow in the tank; hence a considerable amount of substrate is necessary. You will have to feed the spiders adequately to minimize the chances of them turning on each other. However, the chances are low and, in some cases, non-existent.
It is tasking and risky to let spiders mingle unsupervised. Instinctively, they consider each other as enemies; hence, there are many cannibalism cases, especially during scarcity. The only pressing reason for two spiders to cohabit is when you want them to mate, and the only way is to introduce the male to the spider’s enclosure.
However, you still need to be cautious and separate them as soon as they copulate because there are high chances that the female will attack and eat the other. The fete is not impossible since some success stories exist, particularly when the owners started with hatchlings. Regardless, there’s a huge risk in making spiders cohabit, and it is best to prepare for any eventualities.