Spiders and tarantulas are generally carnivorous animals. However, they do indirectly benefit from fruits and vegetables when eating. When keeping tarantulas, understanding this is essential for your tarantula’s health. However, there is a species of spider that is primarily herbivorous.
Tarantulas are insectivores which means they primarily eat insects. This means they are a type of carnivore and are known as obligate carnivores since they only consume other animals. Tarantulas are not omnivores and cannot survive on a non-animal diet.
While tarantulas are easy animals to care for, understanding their food needs is critical. Tarantulas are carnivores, but they might sometimes eat fruit or vegetables, which is a concerning sign in captivity. They don’t need to eat fruit or vegetables directly, but they can still greatly benefit the nutritional health of your pet tarantula.
Why are Tarantulas considered to be Carnivores?
Tarantulas are obligate carnivores, meaning they can only survive by eating other animals and cannot get their nutrition directly from plants. Specifically, tarantulas are insectivores which means they primarily eat insects.
Carnivore is a group that includes a vast range of diets, and it’s often broken down into multiple categories. While some carnivores can eat plants, others are obligated to only eating other animals. The carnivore group also includes insectivores who only eat insects and other diets such as piscivores who only eat fish.
No tarantula has been discovered that eats any plant foods for nutrition. Several true spiders have been found to eat plant-based food sources such as nectar but no tarantulas yet.
Are Tarantulas considered to be Omnivores?
Tarantulas are not omnivores because they cannot eat and survive on plants and animals. They are obligate carnivores because they cannot survive on a plant diet or metabolize the nutrients from plants.
The omnivore diet group contains various animal diets and animals from different evolutionary backgrounds. It can include frugivores who thrive on a mostly fruit diet and some insectivores. Animals in those groups can absorb nutrients from both plant and animal sources.
Tarantulas cannot absorb the nutrients from plant matter which means they cannot be classed as omnivores. While some other insectivores, such as birds, can eat other food sources, this isn’t true for tarantulas.
Can Tarantulas eat Fruit and Vegetables?
Technically, tarantulas can eat fruits or vegetables, but they cannot properly digest them. Tarantulas will eat some plants when they are severely dehydrated or are starving. Their natural diet does not include plants, and eating them can harm their health.
Vegetables and fruit can have high water content. Tarantulas can absorb water through their prey and from plants if needed. Some plants can contain over 90% water, ideal for a dehydrated tarantula. When required, tarantulas can slowly eat vegetables, fruit and other plants with a high water content over several hours to get additional water.
Tarantulas may also eat fruit and vegetables when food is extremely limited. If they’ve gone without food for an extended period, then tarantulas may eat some plants. Fruit and vegetables can provide tarantulas with a small amount of nutrients to keep them alive and give them the needed energy to attack prey.
What is Gut Loading?
Gut loading refers to feeding prey animals vegetables and fruit before giving them to the tarantula to eat. Commercially raised insects contain little nutrition for your tarantula, so gut loading them improves this. Tarantulas don’t consume the plants directly.
The tarantula does not consume the fruits and vegetables directly. The live food eats it and processes the nutrients, which can then be absorbed by the tarantula when they finally eat the live food. Other types of food can also be used for gut loading insects, including cereals, grains, fortified commercial food and more.
Should you feed a Tarantula Fruit?
Tarantulas do not need to eat fruit and will not willingly eat fruit as long as you meet their needs. Offering them fruit will not benefit the tarantula’s health. They should only be fed insects and other suitably sized animals.
Gut loading their food with fruit is a good idea, but tarantulas should not be fed fruit directly. They should only be provided appropriate live foods such as crickets, mealworms or cockroaches. Large tarantulas can also be fed pre-killed small amphibians, birds and mammals.
Do Tarantula Spiderlings eat Fruit?
Tarantulas of all ages do not naturally eat fruit unless they are dehydrated or starving. Spiderlings, or baby tarantulas, do not eat fruit. It does not give them the nutrition they need to grow into a large tarantula.
Slings eat small insects such as fruitflies and pieces of pre-killed larger prey. This can include cricket legs or a piece of a mealworm. Baby tarantulas should not be given food larger than their abdomen, so finding food small enough can be tricky. Slings are more willing to be scavengers than adult tarantulas, so pre-killed prey and pieces of animals are acceptable foods for them.
All currently discovered tarantulas are carnivores and fall into the insectivore sub-category of the carnivore group. While tarantulas are obligate carnivores, they will eat some plants if that’s the only food option available to them. However, this takes months of starvation or requires the tarantula to be extremely dehydrated. Tarantulas can get some nutrition from plants, but it’s not very efficient, and it’s the last resort option for them. Currently, we have not discovered any tarantulas with an omnivorous or herbivorous diet.