Do tarantulas need a water dish? This question has various answers and is dependent on whom you ask. It also depends on the size and age of your tarantula along with the species and environm. And, it can involve your species and the environment it likes to live in. So, let’s investigate further.
The answer is complicated. Some owners and experts will tell you that having a water dish isn’t necessary. As you know, tarantulas live in harsh environments all the time.
In the wild, water dishes aren’t provided.
I highly recommend that you put a water dish in your spider enclosure. Tarantulas will survive on rainwater in puddles and on their webs if they are the arboreal type. But, your pet doesn’t live in the wild any longer, and living in captivity is different from living in the wild.
But maybe someone has a different opinion. If you want to know more details, read on.
Can Tarantulas Live Without Water?
Tarantulas have an exoskeleton that keeps moisture from being lost to the environment. This exoskeleton is meant to protect the tarantula from dehydration.
Many tarantulas live in dry, arid climates and thus, you would think it could live without much water. But, other tarantulas are dependent on humidity and need a certain level of humidity to be healthy.
However, all creatures need water to survive and tarantulas aren’t any different. Tarantulas need water more than they need food.
A tarantula can survive for a long time without eating but will suffer dehydration, just like humans, if they don’t have access to water. So, do tarantulas need a water dish? The answer is yes, and no.
Read more about Do Spiders Drink Water.
How Does Age Impact the Need for a Water Dish?
Adult tarantulas may thrive from using a water dish. Many owners don’t use water dishes for many reasons. So, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of the water dish:
- Tarantulas do need access to clean and fresh water.
- They won’t drown in a small shallow dish.
- They do drink water even if you never see them take a drink.
Because tarantulas are nocturnal animals, they don’t come out of their hiding places until after dark.
You may even be asleep when they exit their home. So, this is why some owners believe tarantulas don’t drink.
- Tarantulas live in harsh environments that don’t provide significant water.
- Misting the enclosure is enough water for the tarantula to survive without dehydration.
- The substrate is moistened and therefore it isn’t necessary to add additional water.
- Tarantulas make a mess, add substrate or waste to the water dish, making it difficult to keep the water clean and fresh.
Whether you mist or use a water dish doesn’t matter if you do a few tasks. First, if you mist your tarantula’s enclosure, you need to mist in the evening.
Depending on how much ventilation and your tarantula’s normal schedule, if you mist too early in the day, the water may evaporate before your pet has a chance to drink.
Also, if you mist, you may want the feeding prey to eat juicy fruits 24 hours before feeding it to your animal. This is called gut loading and this allows the adult tarantula to obtain the moisture from the juice in the prey.
Also, misting or providing a water dish assists in keeping the humidity at the proper level for the tarantula. Some arboreal tarantula’s webs can be misted to assist in maintaining humidity and clean water.
But, if you use a water dish, you must change the water at least every couple of days and clean the dish at least once a week. If you are misting, you need to get on a schedule and be sure you are misting at least 3 times a week.
What About Juveniles?
Juvenile tarantulas need to be about 1.5 to 2 inches before placing a water dish in their enclosure.
Misting for smaller juveniles is the preferred method here. If the juvenile is larger, then you can place a small water dish without any issues. Stories about a tarantula drowning in their water are difficult to find.
The same priorities for misting remain the same. Misting in the evening and every 3 days still applies. You must decide, through trial and error, what is best for your pet.
Hatchling or Spiderlings Need Water Too
Many owners fear spiderlings, also called slings, may drown in a dish of water. And, most slings have a small enclosure that can’t accommodate a water dish at all.
So, misting may be the only choice in this instance. Also, slings don’t have a waxy coating yet that preserves the moisture as adults do.
This causes misting to be more important to prevent dehydration. Some owners will moisten the substrate with a water dropper to assist in the process of hydration.
Another point to consider is it’s difficult for a sling to drown in the water dish. Slings have tiny hairs that repel water. Is drowning possible?
Has drowning happened before? Of course. But it is highly unlikely since slings float. Due to their weight and the hair that they have, slings don’t even break the surface of the water.
Also, slings don’t need much oxygen to survive.
They have been known to go several hours and not need oxygen. Some owners have tested this theory and the outcome was, it would take holding the sling down in the water for more than a couple of hours for the sling to drown.
Read our full review on Best Water Dishes for Tarantula.
So, What Do You Think? Do Tarantulas Need a Water Dish?
There isn’t a correct answer or a wrong answer. You have to decide what works best for you and your pet. There is always a risk involved in either case.
You don’t want to have the environment too damp. Moisture can build up and cause mold, mites and bacteria which could be harmful to your tarantula. But not enough moisture can lead to dehydration.
Either way, the risk is you could cause harm unintentionally to the tarantula. Just like human babies, it comes down to learning how to care for the tarantula and then applying trial and error until you figure it out.
Misting the substrate or the enclosure will do the same thing as providing a water dish as long as you stay on top of the humidity and hydration of your pet. But providing water of any kind to the tarantula is necessary.
Even though tarantulas will forgo water during the mating season and while they are molting, water still plays a vital part in the life of a tarantula. You can gut load, provide a water dish or mist, but it is up to you.
There are even specific species that will sit under water. And, some adult species will fill their book lungs, so they won’t drown.
So, all these elements leave the answer to this question confusing. Some owners will tell you that the proper way to care for your tarantula is to provide access to clean and fresh water out of a water dish.
They think this is accurate husbandry. But others will say it isn’t necessary. But, I leave you with this question. Is it worth the risk not to use a water dish? Trial and error will answer that issue.
And, remember, just because a tarantula doesn’t have a water dish in the wild, you need to focus on what is ideal for the tarantula in captivity. Your tarantula might react differently in captivity. It is like comparing apples and oranges. It’s difficult to compare them.
But I will let you decide what you want to do for your tarantula. Because you are the caregiver to your pet.