Keeping spiders as pets is becoming increasingly popular, but it does raise some important questions. Is it safe? Is it ethical? And what do you need to consider before bringing one of these eight-legged creatures into your home?
Is it legal to keep a spider as a pet?
In most parts of the world, yes, it is legal to keep spiders as pets. There are very few laws or regulations around invertebrates like spiders, insects, and other bugs. However, there are a few exceptions:
- Some protected or endangered spider species cannot be collected or kept without special permits.
- In some places, there may be laws around importing or exporting certain spider species across country borders.
- A small number of cities or states require licenses for keeping venomous/dangerous spiders at home.
As long as you avoid protected species and abide by any local laws, keeping common pet spider species is perfectly legal in a private home.
Is keeping a spider in a jar safe?
Keeping a spider in a glass jar can be safe if done properly, but there are some risks to consider:
- Risk of bites: Handling spiders always carries some risk of bites, even species considered “safe” or “non-venomous.” Bites may be painful and cause mild reactions, even if not medically significant.
- Risk of escape: Jars and enclosures can fail, allowing spiders to get loose in your home. This carries risks for both the spider and humans/pets.
- Injury from falls: Spiders can fall and get injured if jars are not handled carefully, especially arboreal species up high.
- Poor ventilation: Jars trap humidity and limit airflow, which can cause mold, bacteria, and respiratory issues over time.
With proper precautions, these risks can be minimized. Using secure jars, handling spiders carefully, keeping lids sealed, and cleaning enclosures regularly will help keep both spider and keeper safe.
Choosing an appropriate jar
Not all jars are suited for housing spiders. Here are some things to look for when selecting a jar:
- Secure, tight-fitting lid – Prevents escapes.
- Smooth, transparent surfaces – Allows viewing spider inside.
- Ventilation holes – Promotes airflow.
- No small openings – Stops spiders getting stuck.
- Sturdy, shatterproof material – Prevents breaks and injuries.
- Appropriate size – Gives spider room to move and web.
Glass or plastic jars designed for housing insects or small animals typically work well. Avoid old food jars with deteriorating metal lids. Make sure to drill or puncture holes in the lid for air flow.
Suitable spider species for jars
Not all spiders are well-suited to living in jars long-term. Here are some recommended species:
|– Active, visual hunters. Need height for climbing.
|– Make large webs. Need width to construct webs.
|– Tiny, so need minimal space.
|– Ground-dwellers. Select terrestrial species.
Avoid highly active or arboreal species like wolf spiders, which require more space. Also avoid overcrowding multiple spiders in one jar.
Setting up the spider jar
Once you have an appropriate jar, setting it up to be inhabitable takes some planning. Here are some tips:
- Substrate: Line the bottom with 2-3 inches of suitable substrate like coco fiber, peat moss, or potting soil.
- Decor: Include hides, plants, branches, rocks, etc to enrich the environment.
- Water dish: Provide a small, shallow water dish and refresh water regularly.
- Ventilation: Drill 5-10 ventilation holes evenly around the jar’s upper sides.
- Lighting: Keep the jar somewhere with ambient daylight but out of direct sun.
Customize the setup based on your particular spider’s needs. Make sure to sterilize the jar thoroughly before introducing your spider.
Caring for a spider in a jar
Spider care basics include:
- Food: Feed an appropriate diet of live insects like crickets or flies.
- Water: Provide fresh water in a shallow dish and mist jar occasionally.
- Cleaning: Spot clean waste and uneaten food. Disinfect entire jar regularly.
- Handling: Minimize handling other than transferring to clean jars.
- Monitoring: Watch for signs of stress/illness – lack of web, hiding, fasting.
Research your specific spider’s particular care needs too. Conditions like temperature, humidity, and enclosure size can vary among species.
Typical jar sizes for common pet spiders
|1+ gallon for small species
Size up accordingly for larger spiders. They need adequate room to roam and construct webs. Overly spacious jars won’t necessarily be utilized, but overly cramped ones cause stress.
Are there ethical concerns with spiders in jars?
There are some ethical considerations around keeping spiders in jars long-term:
- Limited space: Jars restrict web-building, climbing, roaming for exercise.
- Reduced lifespan: Captivity may shorten some spider species’ normal lifespans.
- Lack of enrichment: Jars lack dynamic environmental stimuli spiders experience in nature.
- Solitary living: Social spider species may suffer from isolation in a jar.
That said, jars can also protect spiders from predators, parasites, and pesticides in the wild. With proper care, spiders can still eat, drink, spin webs, molt, mate, and engage in other natural behaviors in a jar. Overall impact depends on jar size, husbandry practices, and individual spider personality.
Keeping spiders in jars requires care and caution, but can be done responsibly. Focus on choosing suitable jars, spider species, setups, and husbandry to minimize risks and ethical concerns. With adequate space, ventilation, food, water, and gentle handling, spiders can thrive in captivity. But be prepared to upgrade your spider to a larger enclosure if it outgrows a jar.