The captive care of invertebrates can be a fascinating and rewarding hobby. Insects and arachnids such as tarantulas, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, roaches, stick insects and mantids have become very popular in the pet trade due to the fact that some can be long lived, very interesting to keep and have relatively simple care requirements. Before acquiring any sort of insect or other invertebrate, it is absolutely essential that you research the species you are interested in. Though many inverts can be purchased at fairly reasonable prices, a little knowledge will go a long way in keeping your new pet safe and healthy for its entire lifetime, no matter how long or short that may be.
Tarantulas and scorpions are amongst the most commonly kept invertebrates. Most can live in a fairly small enclosure at room temperature or with a small reptile heating pad and are fed a diet of various feeder insects once per week. There are so many species available that you should be able to easily choose one whose appearance and temperament appeal to you. Some are far more aggressive than others and should be left to the more experienced keepers only. All arachnids do have venom with varying levels of toxicity and should be considered display only pets. Look, but don’t touch. Even the most docile tarantula can and will bite if it feels threatened and some have urticating hairs they can flick from their abdomen which will irritate human eyes and skin. Spider bites and scorpion stings can sometimes feel similar to a bee sting, but many people can have allergic reactions to insect venom, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Cockroaches, millipedes, stick insects and mantids can make wonderful pets as well, but many species are restricted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and either cannot be kept at all or require special permits. The laws regarding the keeping of venomous arachnids will also vary depending upon the city or township in which you live. When in doubt, contact your local Animal Control Department or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Fines for keeping prohibited species can be high and your pet may be removed from your home if you lack the proper permits to keep it.
At Pawley’s Reptiles we have kept many different species of arachnids and other invertebrates throughout years. Photos of some of these can be found in the gallery below. Breeding insects is often quite easy to do and we have been successful with this in the past, but babies can be numerous and difficult to find homes for, so most of our invertebrates are kept as pets or for educational purposes only.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about invertebrate care or how to choose a pet that best suits your lifestyle. If we do not have the answers you need, we’ll put you in touch with someone who does.