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Do Tarantulas Sleep? (Explained)

Have you ever wondered if arachnids sleep? Well, tarantulas do sleep, but it’s more complicated than you might think. For humans and other mammals, sleep occurs in rhythmic cycles.

Tarantulas don’t actually sleep in the traditional sense. They instead go into a resting state where their body functions slow down so they can replenish their energy. Tarantulas are generally nocturnal creatures, which means they are at rest during the day and more active at night.

So, really, do tarantulas sleep? Read on to find out more!

Key Takeaways:

  • Tarantulas do not sleep in the same way as humans and other animals, but they do enter a resting state this is kind of like napping.
  • You can tell if a tarantula is in a resting state when it is not moving, gets really still, and curls its legs inward. It might also go into a nest or burrow.
  • Tarantulas are nocturnal, so they are more active at night than during the day. They’re more likely to go into a resting state during the daytime.

Do Tarantulas Sleep?

red-knee tarantula up close
Image by Danny de Bruyne from Pixabay

To answer the question simply, yes, tarantulas do sleep. However, it’s not the same way as humans and other animals. Tarantulas enter a resting state to restore their energy.

How Does A Tarantula Sleep

Desert tarantula
Desert tarantula | image by Renee Grayson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

We may feel the need to catch some Z’s for 7 or 8 hours every night, but tarantulas only require a few hours of sleep every  2 to 3 days. During the day, tarantulas are often found in their burrows or hiding spots, resting. We can also call it sleeping, but it’s a tarantula form of sleep.

When it’s time for them to sleep, they’ll become very still and immobile. Their legs will become stiff, and they’ll remain in this spot until they wake up again. During this time, tarantulas are able to conserve energy.

Instead, they take naps throughout the day as needed. So, if you see a tarantula just sitting in its burrow or in its web, it’s likely taking a nap. Tarantulas also don’t go into a deep sleep as we do.

They enter a lighter sleep state. In this state, they are still aware of their surroundings and can quickly wake up if necessary. When it’s cold, tarantulas will enter a form of sleep called a “torpor state.”

This is when they slow down their body functions to conserve energy. Being in the torpor state is not the same as hibernation. Tarantulas don’t actually hibernate.

While they are in this state of torpor, their metabolism slows down, and they enter into a mini-hibernation. You can tell if your tarantula is in a state of torpor if it is lethargic and not moving much.

If you try to poke or prod your tarantula while it’s in this state, it probably won’t react much. So if your tarantula is curled up and really still for a long period of time, it’s not hibernating. It’s just resting, conserving its energy, and replenishing itself.

The next time you see your pet tarantula enter its burrow to rest, don’t force them out of this position. They are just trying to get some much-needed respite.

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How Do You Know If A Tarantula Is Sleeping?

Tarantula on the ground
Tarantula on the ground | image by John Fowler via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

How do you know if a tarantula is sleeping? There are a few telltale signs that a tarantula is snoozing.

First, the tarantula will be very still. If you gently prod it, the tarantula may not even react. It may position itself in its shelter to where it is facing inward.

Tarantulas don’t have eyelids, so you won’t see their eyes closed. You may notice its legs are curled inward, and it’s in a sitting position. When tarantulas are sleeping, they are in a state of rest and relaxation.

Their legs are curled up under their bodies. They may not move for several hours at a time.  In addition, your tarantula may have a favorite resting spot.

They might settle into a little nesting spot that feels safe for them. So when they go into this spot, it’s a pretty good indication they’re looking to take a break and rest. You might start to notice regular patterns of your tarantula doing this.

Some tarantulas will build a small webbing around their burrow entrance to help keep predators out. When entering their resting period, they block the entrance with their large abdomen for protection.

If you notice a tarantula facing inward in its burrow with its abdomen blocking the entrance, this is a good indication they are resting. So next time you see a tarantula that appears to be asleep, don’t disturb it! Let the little guy or girl get some well-deserved rest.

What Do Tarantulas Do At Night?

Columbian lesser-back tarantula
Columbian lesser-back tarantula | image via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

While you may think tarantulas are sleeping at night, they’re actually lying, waiting for prey. They don’t actually go out hunting prey like other predators. Tarantulas are nocturnal.

At night, they are working on ways to capture food. They may be building their webs or working on their burrows. It will remain in its burrow or hidden in vegetation, waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting victim that wanders by.

When prey enters their vicinity or web, they use their toxins to subdue prey. This takes a lot of energy, and tarantulas don’t need to eat often, so they can spend long periods of time waiting for a meal.

Tarantulas typically eat insects, small mammals, and reptiles. Some larger species of tarantula can even take down birds. So tarantulas conserve energy during the day, so they are able to capture prey at night.

This is why they need periods of rest. Just like us, tarantulas need to rest and rejuvenate after a long night of working to capture prey. During rest periods, their metabolism slows down, and they use less energy.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand that tarantulas do indeed sleep, but not in the ways that humans do. If it’s still and curled up, it’s likely at rest and in the tarantula form of sleep. So next time you see a tarantula just chilling in its spot, it could very well be catching some much-needed rest.

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