Another verry intersting webpage is The Arachnology Home Page with 2000 links to sites about spiders and other arachnids. Therefor it's an excellent starting place to find all kind of information about these animals.
HOUSING IN CAPTIVITY
A tarantula does not need a big room to live in. A room that's to big is not right because the preys of the spider can escape very easy. An adult spider can be kept in a terrarium with a surface of 25 x 15 centimeters. A well closing roof is required, because spiders often want (or try) to escape.
On the bottom of the terrarium a mixture of soil and vermiculite(without fertilizer), peat and treebarkflakes is preferred. This layer has to be a few centimeters thick. Never take fine sand for creating a subsoil.
A little cup of fresh water is absolutely necessary, but the cup must not be too deep or too big. It is important that the animals are kept in a room with a high humidity. In a closed terrarium (with a roof of glass), the humidity can be regulated by wetting the bottom of the terrarium. In an open terrarium (this means a terrarium with a wire netting roof or a terrarium with a roof of perforated plastic) you can also put a piece of wet green foam (wich you can buy at any flowershop) to regulate the humidity, it has the abbility to stay moist for over a week.
If you wet the bottom of the terrarium, the best way to do this is to squirt one half of the bottom wet and keep the other half dry. Warning: never squirt on the spider. The drinking cup has to be put on the dry part.
Spiders like to have a shelter. This can be a piece of treebark (cork-oak is preferred) or a crushed flower-pot. You can create such a shelter any way you like and you have to do this as natural as possible. If you have to put the shelter on the dry or the wet part of the terrarium depends on the preference of the spider itself. This is the reason why you should create more than one shelter. Now the spider can choose a shelter itself.
You always have to place the terrarium at a warm spot. During the day the temperature may rise to about 30 degrees Celcius and during the night the temperature may fall to about 18 degrees Celsius.
The terrarium does not need to be cleaned regularly, because it is very important that the spider can use the shelters, chosen by itself, as long as possible. Yet if you have to clean the terrarium, try to create the same shelters as before you cleaned the terrarium.
The food of a tarantula in captivity mainly exists of insects, mostly crickets, grass-hoppers, flies and fruit-flies (drosophila)for new-born spiders. Sometimes you can feed the spider with a little mammal, for example a baby-mouse. Per week a spider eats about 5 or 6 crickets (size 6 or 7). These crickets should be put in the terrarium alive. If the spiders hasn't eaten the crickets after a few days, take the crickets out of the terrarium. It is possible that the sloughing is coming up and if that's the case, the spider doesn't eat anymore or it has eaten enough. Skip the feeding for one week and try it again after that week.
THE MOULTING / SHEDDING
A very important moment in the life of a spider is the moulting. Spiders have ( just as all antropods) no inner skeleton, they have an verry stable carrapax. To enable growth, the spider has to shed his/her skin. For this cause a new skin starts growing underneath the old skin. On a moment the spider stops eating. This can last a few weeks but some spiders don't eat for as long as six or more months. The period that spiders don't eat depends on the species. The period last until the moulting is ready.
The reason that the spider doesn't eat is that the internal "mouth" of the spider (spiders don't have a real mouth, actually it is a food-openimng) and the stomach are replaced as well. About the same time the spider stops eating, the abdomen of the spider can get fatter and sometimes it shows bald spots. This doesn't happen everytime, hence it is very important to watch when the spider stops eating and how long this lasts. By that time you should take all the crickets and other insects out of the terrarium, because after the moulting the spider has a weak skin for a while and insects can eat through this skin. Than the spider will die. Also the spider cannot be disturbed during the moulting because this can lead to the death of the spider. You can start feeding the spider again after about three days after the moulting. During the moulting the spider will lay down on his back and he will stretch his legs up. The old skin will burst open on one side of the head and the spider will crawl out of the old skin. After the moultingyou can take the old skin out of the terrarium.
Only an expert can tell the genus of a young spider. It is not very difficult to tell the genus of an adult spider. The first pair of legs of a male spider has become longer and is often supplied with tibial spurs (a thorn-a-like projection) and the pedipalps of the male spider are supplied with the genital openings (the EMBOLIA) on each end. The female spider gets a genital opening in the middle of the abdomen, between the first pair of lung-slits.
TAMENESS OF A SPIDER
Practically all tarantula's have an agressive character and all tarantula's can bite. However, there are tame species and they can be taken in the hand easily. Spiders are nevertheless no toys! You can let the spider walk on your skin but you may never let the spider walk on clothes or other textile. The reason for this is that the little claws on the end of the legs of the spider can get stuck in the textile. The spider can loose a leg. If the spider falls from a height of more than 20-25 centimeters, the abdomen will burst.
Some spiders are called "BOMBING SPIDERS". They can shoot the hook-formed hairs on the abdomen with their hind-legs when they feel threatened. This is mainly done by young spiders. The hairs can irritate the mucous membranes if you inhale them and you have to be careful with your eyes too, it can couse a serius irritation, for example a painfull burning sensation.