Page 1 of 4 | text and photos by Michael Jacobi
This article provides step-by-step directions to create an inexpensive and simple enclosure that is not only ideal for housing adult specimens of arboreal tarantula species, but also aesthetically pleasing. All materials are readily available at pet stores and other common retail outlets.
1. Obtain the materials listed above. Ten-gallon aquaria are available at most pet stores and many department superstores. Although your local pet store may not stock the exact screen cover required, ESU® reptile products are extremely popular and any pet store should be able to order this model for you. Substrate and cork park pieces can also be purchased at most pet stores, especially those that carry a good selection of reptiles. Numerous Internet reptile specialty retailers also carry both, and large quantities of cork bark may be acquired from cork specialists such as corkstore.com. A variety of artificial plants can be found. Assorted quality plastic plants are sold at pet stores and silk plants are sold at craft shops and superstores. However, the most economical sources are dollar stores. Suction cups can be found at hardware stores and superstores. It is important that the suction cups have metal hooks that slide into a groove in the knob on the outside of the cup (as will be explained in detail below). Condiment cups are available in small quantity at no charge with your food order at many restaurants. If you need more than a few you should ask the management if you can purchase them. Larger quantities can be obtained from local restaurant supply stores or www.acemart.com.
2. Rinse and dry the aquarium and set it vertically on end. Wipe both sides of the screen cover with a damp towel and dry. Use heavy-duty clear packing tape to neatly cover the inside of the screen cover except for the door area. If you take your time, use crystal clear tape, and apply the tape neatly it will be barely noticeable on the finished product. The primary function of the tape is to restrict ventilation to elevate humidity. Leaving only the door itself uncovered will generally allow for sufficient ventilation. In very humid conditions you may need to cover less of the screen cover with tape. Covering the majority of the inside of the screen cover with clear tape also serves two secondary purposes: it can be easily replaced as it becomes covered with feces eliminating unnecessary cleaning, and it protects the tarantula's tarsi and tarsal claws from getting caught in screen. Use complete lengths of tape and apply them parallel to the long side of the cover. Start at one long edge and work toward the other, slightly overlapping each length of tape. Using 2 in [5 cm] wide tape, it should take two lengths (20.5 in [52 cm]) to cover the complete length up to the door and then four shorter strips (7 in [ 18 cm]) on each side of the door to complete taping the cover.