If you spend any time on tarantula forums, then you’ll quickly notice that hobbyists gravitate towards female specimens.
Male tarantulas do not live as long as females, and typically die within a year of their ultimate molt. The difference in life span between the sexes can sometimes be a matter of a decade. In addition to a shorter lifespan, mature males usually don’t look as attractive as their female counterparts who are heavier-bodied and oftentimes more colorful.
Do female tarantulas look better than males?
Both females and males will look identical while they are immature. However, once the male reaches maturity, his appearance will often drastically change.
Although it’s a subjective matter, many hobbyists agree that mature males aren’t as pleasing to look at as females. Their long legs coupled with their smaller abdomen and less prominent chelicerae tend to create a very spindly appearance.
Are there any species where the male is more desirable than the female?
In the genus Pamphobeteus, many keepers actually hope that they get a male! The mature males in this genus can be gorgeous, sometimes sporting remarkable purple and pink colors. The females, on the other hand, are brown and occasionally black.
Will not mating make the male die sooner?
Choosing not to allow your male tarantula to mate will not shorten his lifespan anymore than it naturally would be. In fact, you may be prolonging it since females sometimes eat the males during mating.
Will my mature male ever stop pacing the cage?
You may notice that your male tarantula will start to climb the walls and walk in circles around the enclosure nonstop after he matures. There’s nothing you can do to prevent his restlessness; however, you can make sure that there is nothing in the enclosure that will hurt him if he falls.
Make sure there aren’t’ any sharp decorations, and keep the substrate high enough that he can’t fall a long distance if he’s climbing up towards the lid. Many keepers opt to move their mature males to smaller enclosures to prevent injuries in their last few months.
Do male tarantulas die after mating?
Males don’t automatically die after mating, although it may seem as though they do because of their already short life spans. They usually don’t live more than a year after their ultimate molt (although they can potentially live a few more years). That being said, it is not uncommon for female tarantulas to eat the males after mating in captivity.
How do you know if the male has had his final molt?
After a male has his maturing molt (or ultimate molt), you will notice that he changes in appearance. He will look leggier, and his pedipalps will appear bulbous at the end. The end of a mature males pedipalps are sometimes called boxing gloves, and all species will get these bulbous palps.
At the end of his “boxing gloves” are his emboli, which are the structures that he uses to transfer sperm to the female. There will also be visible tibial hooks on the front legs of many tarantula species after they’ve gone through their ultimate molt. This is where the term “hooked out” comes from. Not all species of tarantulas possess tibial hooks.
Can mature males molt again after their ultimate molt?
Very rarely will a mature male tarantula successfully molt again; however, it does happen. It isn’t uncommon for mature males to unsuccessfully attempt to molt again. They often lose their pedipalps if they attempt another molt, or outright get stuck in the molt, because of the bulbous palps.
If the male loses his pedipalps, then he is no longer able to mate. Their front legs also tend to get stuck in a subsequent molt attempt because of the tibial hooks. A male that gets his pedipalps or front legs stuck in a molt may survive, sans the appendage, or he may be unable to free himself and end up dying.
What do people do with males that mature?
Keepers that don’t plan on breeding their tarantulas usually sell, trade, or loan their mature males out to other hobbyists. There are boards on tarantula forums and Facebook groups that are dedicated to finding mates for mature male specimens.
If you decide on a breeding loan, you can get a portion of the babies from the resulting egg sac if you’re interested in trying again for a female specimen. The male will be returned back to you if that’s what you want when he’s finished to live out the remainder of his life, assuming that there were no mishaps during mating.
Do males grow faster than females?
In general, both males and females grow at approximately the same rate despite there being a pervasive hobby myth that all male spiderlings grow faster than their female siblings.
A sac of spiderlings can vary wildly in their molting cycles, and there will be size differences between the spiderlings. The myth probably got started because males tend to mature before the females from the same egg sac are finished growing. A male can mature at a relatively small size in relation to the rest of his sac mates and put on a lot of size with this ultimate molt.
That being said, there have been instances where keepers have noticed their males growing significantly faster than females from the same egg sac. This doesn’t appear to happen to all species.
Why do mature males die so quickly?
The shorter lifespan of male tarantulas compared to females is a common type of sexual dimorphism. This just is the way tarantulas have evolved to be.
Once a male tarantula matures, his behavior will change drastically. He will begin restlessly pacing the enclosure on a hunt for a female, and he will often become completely disinterested in food and water.
Despite his singular focus on mating, the constant wandering means his body is going to need to refuel on food and water to keep going. They tend to decline pretty rapidly due to their disinterest in these resources, which is why many keepers prefer small enclosures for mature males.
As mentioned above, they rarely survive if they attempt a post-ultimate molt because of their emboli and tibial hooks (if they have hooks).
Final Thoughts on Male Tarantulas
Male and female tarantulas are equally rewarding to keep, especially if you’re going to be raising your collection from slings. Although they don’t live as long as female tarantulas, you will still get to watch them for a long time before their ultimate molt, and mature males display fascinating habits. It’s really interesting watching them build sperm webs upside down.
It’s also truly impressive to see the final leg span on some of the adult males! If you’re interested in sending your male out on a breeding loan when he matures, make sure you start looking for a hobbyist with a female early so that he can be loaned out freshly after his ultimate molt.