Have you heard of tarantula owners using springtails in their pets’ cages and wondering if you should do the same?
Are you curious as to how the springtails can benefit your tarantula if they can cause damage or even how many you need to get started?
Continue reading for all the information you need on springtails for tarantulas.
What Are Springtails?
Springtails (Collembola) are the largest of modern hexapods. They are not classified as insects. Springtails are omnivores and live off living organisms, preferring moist conditions.
Springtail on leaf
While they are not responsible for organic matter decomposition, they do contribute to the process by fragmenting the organic matter and controlling any soil microbial groups.
Pros Of Springtails
When it comes to whether springtails are a good idea for your tarantula enclosure, then you need to have a good understanding of the benefits that they provide.
The pros of springtails include:
Springtails are very affordable and you can purchase them online or in any pet store, making them easy to source and purchase within your budget.
The springtail eats mold, algae, fungi, and pollen, making them excellent cleaners inside your pet’s enclosure.
Springtails can help you manage your mite control, by competing with them within the same habitat.
Easy to Care For
A major benefit of springtails is that they don’t require any care, simply add them to your tarantula’s enclosure and they will take care of themselves.
Do Not Need Full Bio Setup
All springtails need to survive is a thin layer of eco-earth and the right humidity. Simply add them and let them take care of the rest.
Cons Of Springtails
There are only two downsides to springtails for tarantulas you need to know, helping you make an informed decision on whether to introduce them or not. These include:
Only Suitable for Tropical Environments
There are more than one thousand species of tarantula that live in the desert, tropical or subtropical regions.
If your tarantula is from a tropical region, then you can use springtails, as they love moisture.
Unfortunately, they are not suitable for desert environments, so if your tarantula is from a desert region, you cannot use springtails as they will die.
Danger to Molting Tarantula
Tarantulas have an exoskeleton and therefore they need to molt in order to grow.
Young tarantulas will molt frequently, sometimes once a month, while adults may only molt every year or every second year.
Taking into account that springtails are omnivorous, some tarantula owners have found that their springtails are eating on their pets when they molt.
Are Springtails Good For Tarantulas?
When you weigh the pros up against the cons when it comes to introducing springtails into your tarantula habitat, you can see that springtails are a good addition that can help keep the enclosure free of mold, algae, decaying matter and manage any mite infestations.
Due to the fact that springtails prefer a moist and humid environment, they are very useful in tropical enclosures.
They are not useful in the desert enclosure, which is why they are only recommended for tropical tarantulas.
The springtails for tarantulas are so easy to introduce. Springtails will thrive in a simple setup that includes eco earth and humidity.
You can also use these for slings, they can also be added to a small cup and thrive.
How To Use Springtails In Tarantula Enclosures
How many Springtails Do I Need to Introduce?
You want to get it right from the start, so you need to have a guideline on how many springtails to introduce to ensure its success.
This is based on the size of the enclosure. A typical tarantula enclosure of 30cm x 30cm with fresh substrate can have 30 springtails introduced.
The substrate will need to mature, so there will not be much food available. As long as you keep the conditions at optimum, they will reproduce and survive.
Do not be tempted to introduce more springtails than is needed, as this can cause overpopulation, which can be uncomfortable for your tarantula.
How to Reduce Springtail Population in Tarantula Enclosure
If you have introduced too many springtails or your population is growing out of control, then you can reduce their numbers by simply reducing humidity levels and removing uneaten food.
To reduce humidity, you can remove the water dish temporarily and reduce the number of mistings you do daily.
Springtails vs Mites
Some tarantula owners find mites and/or springtails in the enclosure and they didn’t put them there.
These hexapods and parasites can come in with food and decorations.
In order to identify if you have a springtail or mite infestation in your pet’s enclosure, you need to be able to identify them.
Springtails grow to around 1/8th of an inch and are wingless with soft bodies and six legs.
They are known for their tail-like appendage, which can be found under their belly, which releases from their belly and allows the springtail to spring into the air.
When you look at them, they appear gray, but they actually come in a variety of colors.
They jump very high for their size and are mostly active in the late afternoon and early evening.
Dust mite under microscope
Mites appear as tiny white specks that crawl around your tarantula enclosure.
These are tiny arachnids, that are related to scorpions and spiders with more than forty-five thousand species described.
Some mites are parasites and others are carnivores.
Mites come in on pets and food. You may have no idea you have introduced them to the enclosure.
The mites you find in your tarantula enclosure are not parasites or pests specific to tarantulas, they are a generic species taking full advantage of the welcome living conditions, where they can live and reproduce.
How To Start A Springtail Culture
In the Enclosure
Springtails in an enclosure
When you introduce springtails into your tarantula enclosure properly, they should never need to be introduced. The springtails should be able to sustain themselves.
The best time to add springtails is when introducing them into a live enclosure, which means waiting at least three to five weeks after introducing your tarantula, to encourage a healthy and functioning springtail population.
Add a thin layer of eco-earth as your substrate. Then simply add your thirty or fewer springtails into the enclosure, once it is all set up.
Remember you may have a few losses if you introduce your springtails before the eco-earth has had time to settle down.
It’s recommended that you cover the substrate with moss and/or leaf litter.
Do not press the substrate down to compress it.
If you are introducing to a new enclosure, then add one hundred percent brewer’s yeast to the enclosure every few days. Add a light sprinkle and mist with water.
This is an inexpensive way to keep your springtails alive while your enclosure starts to mature.
Be careful not to overdo it, as this can encourage mites. Rather only add some yeast when there is no yeast visible on the substrate any ore.
Separate from the Enclosure
You can start your springtail population outside your tarantula’s enclosure using a container.
Simply add eco-earth and your springtails. Using the brewer’s yeast feeding recommendations, keeping the soil moist, you can help your springtail population thrive.
When you want to add springtails to your pet’s enclosure, simply take some of the media from the container and place in your pet’s enclosure.
Some of the springtails will be in the media and are immediately introduced, ready to get to work.
- Always keep an eye out for mites, keep your springtail cultures on paper towels, so you can identify mites quickly
- Don’t worry if you see mold in the cultures, that is common a day after feeding yeast, as it molds quickly when moist, the perfect food source for your springtails
- Buy your springtails from a reliable source
- Keep temperatures between 65ºF and 80ºF, any higher and your springtails will slow their reproduction
- Use ambient light, keep the springtail cultures away from direct sunlight
- Ensure you keep your springtail culture moist, mist up to three times a week
- Do not allow the culture to dry out completely, this will kill your springtails
Springtails are a great addition to a tropical tarantula enclosure, offering an effective cleanup crew that can eradicate mold, algae, and waste from the enclosure.
They are so easy to care for and introduce, which makes them very popular with tarantula owners.
Remember to keep a close eye on your pet during molting, if you have introduced springtails, to ensure it’s not being nibbled on.