One Method for Allowing a burrow.


LAST UPDATED ON 2013-June-25!

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In the accompanying figure, "A" is a 5-1/2 gal (21 liter), all glass aquarium measuring 8 inches (20 cm) wide by 16 inches (40 cm) long by 10 inches (25 cm) high. Figure "B" is a 10 gallon (37 liter) aquarium measuring 10 inches (25 cm) wide by 20 inches (50 cm) long by 12 inches (30 cm) high.

Figure "C" is aquarium "A" turned upside down and placed inside aquarium "B." "A" is placed against the rear wall of "B," and centered against that wall. In this configuration, a 2 inch (5 cm) gap is produced around the front and both ends of "A." This gap is adequate for burrowing for most medium sized tarantulas.

Figure "D" is aquarium "A" turned upside down and placed in aquarium "B." However, this time, "A" is placed in a rear corner rather than centered along the rear wall of "B." This allows a 2 inch (5 cm) gap along the front, and a 4 inch (10 cm) gap along one end of "A." This wider gap along the end will allow adequate space for most of the larger tarantulas to burrow. However, small to medium tarantulas burrowing here will probably make narrow enough burrows that they will be concealed completely in the soil.

Other sizes of aquaria may be used. Careful forethought is necessary to allow adequate "headroom" between the two aquaria for excess soil to be discarded but not allow the tarantula to climb to dangerous heights.

Further experimentation has suggested that a mixture of 2 parts by volume of top soil or garden soil (garden loam) mixed with 1 part by volume of horticultural peat makes a nearly ideal substrate in a cage such as this. (Because all brands of top soil and peat are not alike, results may vary.) The top soil supplies adequate firmness to prevent the burrow from collapsing while the horticultural peat prevents the mixture from caking or packing into a nearly impenetrable block. Such a soil mixture should be sifted through a 3/8 to 1/2 inch (10 to 13 millimeter) mesh to remove hard lumps of soil and debris that would foil burrowing attempts by the tarantula.

The enthusiast who wishes to experiment a little may incorporate a few rocks or other obstacles in the soil to discover how the tarantula deals with such obstructions.

Fill the space between the two aquaria to the top of the inner one, tamping the soil firmly. Be cautious not to pack it so firmly that you crack either aquariums' plates of glass. Sprinkle barely enough additional soil mixture over the inner aquarium to conceal it. As the tarantula burrows, it will probably discard the excavated soil onto the top of the inner aquarium, adding additional concealment. It may be necessary, in the case of exuberant burrowers, to remove some excess soil after a time.

The substrate should be kept dry for most tarantulas, and a water dish supplied. See Humidity for more information. Inspect the cage frequently for mite infestations.

All sides of the outer aquarium should be jacketed with a tight fitting, light proof cover. Heavy black construction paper (as used in school projects by younger students) will make a good temporary cover. However, sturdier cardboard painted black on the inside should be arranged as soon as possible. Other methods of blocking out light can also be improvised. Any amount of light which enters the cage from any angle except directly overhead is to be strictly avoided lest the tarantula be prompted to line the walls of the burrow with a heavy layer of silk and soil (which may happen anyway). The enthusiast can view the tarantula and its activities by removing one or more of the light proof jackets. A flashlight (torch) covered with red cellophane or other red plastic can be used to illuminate the inside of the burrow, if necessary, without unduly disturbing the tarantula.

Always include a water dish with the obligatory stone or slate chip in such a cage. It is difficult to assess the tarantula's need for liquid water, especially when it is concealed in its burrow. The small added effort and expense can easily save a valued and valuable pet's life.

As with all other tarantula cages, a secure, escape proof cover is absolutely essential. Just because your pet lives in a burrow does not mean that it won't "go for a walk-about" occasionally if given the opportunity. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.


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Copyright © 1999, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz.
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This page was initially created on 1999-January-31.
The last revision occurred on 2013-June-25.