Feeding a tarantula is one of the part of the fun parts. Decorating certainly is great, but feeding is where the action is, of course. And the number one animal to feed to a tarantula in pet stores that's available are crickets, and the appropriate size cricket for the appropriate size tarantula usually is enough for the tarantula to be happy. However, what are crickets? They have a very, very hard, chitinous layer on the outside. They have an exoskeleton, just like the tarantula, and inside the cricket, there's not really a lot of substance, there's no meat, very little protein, very little vitamins. So keepers long ago have understood they have to load the cricket's guts with something nutritious, and then when the tarantula eats it, he's going to get that nutrition.
You can do that organically through a series of vegetables, banana peels, carrots, potatoes, they sometimes attract fruit flies and other vermin though. So what we do really is use a gut loading product from one of the many great companies out there. Usually this is in the reptile marketplace, there's gut load devices. You'll see them dry-powdered. I like the ones that are more of a jelly, that way the cricket's getting water, the cricket's getting food, the cricket's getting all types of vitamins and minerals. The tarantula comes along, you throw them in the tank, there's really no handing the tarantula the food, you throw them in, he hunts them, he bites them, he digests them, he gets all the nutritious goodness that was inside the gut load, very, very important to do that. And you could use super worms, goliath worms, there's a variety of things in the pet world that are available. The bigger tarantulas, of course, will eat small mice, pink mice in particular.
A lot of people like to say, you know, that's a lot of expenses to go through, I don't want the hassle, I'm just going to go outside and catch a couple of insects. If you live in a very rural area, where there are no pesticides being used on the property, I would say go ahead, it's not going to be much of a problem. Lightening bugs is something we found out it's not a good thing to feed any animal, lightening bugs tend to be toxic. But if you live in a suburban area or urban area, where chemicals are used on the lawn for weed control, or insecticides to control mosquitoes, or what have you, please do not use any insects from those areas.
They might have those pesticides in their systems, if the tarantula eat one of those items, it's almost an instant death, because he, too, is a pest. And if he eats pesticide that's designed to kill insects, they will kill the tarantula in due course. So try to stay to your local pet store's products, try to gut load every chance you get, you 'll have the nice, fat, healthy tarantula in good time.