Moving with Tarantulas

As many of you know, Shane's Spiders recently moved from Spokane, Washington over a couple states to Helena, Montana.  I cannot count the number of times I have seen questions regarding 'How to move with a collection' on the various social media outlets, and since I have recently done so with a very sizable number of animals, both for my personal collection, and the businesses, it would seem almost irresponsible of me not to do at least a short write up of our methods and results, and this will be that write up.  I hop this information will help many people to move with more certainty and less stress in the future.


The first thing I want to remind people, is that in many ways, these creatures are a lot more durable than they are often given credit for, and they can survive a fairly wide range of conditions for at least a moderate amount of time without causing any long term harm.  So without further delay, I will outline below the circumstances of our move.


Time of year was September.  Daytime highs were mostly in the 70s and 80s at the time, though I did not record the temperature on the specific moving day.  I believe the temperature lows were in the 50s and 60s.\


PRE-travel care.  Nothing super special was done for the animals before the packing process except that I made sure EVERYBODY had been fed and watered, and the enclosures that I know dry out rapidly were given extra moisture.  We generally feed and water once ever 1-2 weeks here, so most of our enclosures are set up to maintain good conditions for at least that long.


Process.  All tarantulas were left inside their regular enclosures with only a couple exceptions.  Exceptions were made for space reasons, and not any health or safety concerns.  The exception tarantulas were housed in small temporary enclosures.  Enclosures were left unadjusted unless there were any objects which could easily shift during moving and in the event such an object was present, it was removed completely from the enclosure.


We have many different DIY enclosure designs, but about two thirds of our enclosures have become sort of standardized.  We use a LOT of 20 and 40 dram vials for our slings.  Vials were all arranged tightly in trays, and then placed in boxes, or on a shelf where multiple trays could fit snugly on each shelf with very minimal room for movement.  Then the opening of the shelf was boarded up and the entire shelf moved as a single unit.  Boxes were packed similarly, with enclosures arranged to allow as minimal extra room as possible.  All boxes were taped securely to ensure the bottoms could not fall out. In the event that enclosure shapes could not snugly fill the box, a different box would be used or other items like cloths, crumpled paper, etc. was used to fill the voids and prevent the possibility for the enclosures to shift.  ALL small-Medium enclosures were packed this way filling SEVERAL U-Haul brand XL boxes. Large enclosures were generally not put into boxes. But treated as individual units.


Our mode of transportation was a rented box truck from U-Haul.  The truck did not have any form of climate control in the storage area whatsoever.  To compensate for this, the trip with animals was made at night to prevent them overheating, and packing didn't start until the day had begun to cool.  Reminder, tarantulas can usually handle chilly temps better than extreme high temps.  We also ran a typical yard sprinkler on top of the truck box, which lowered the temperature inside by several degrees.  During packing, animal boxes or individual enclosures were ALWAYS at the top of a stack, and NEVER at the bottom.  The "mom's attic" was a convenient location for many of them in our situation, though not all were able to fit there.  If packing around other belongings, be very aware of what has room to shift within the space, and pack other belongings accordingly.  For example, we packed loose enclosures below and on top of a table and then surrounded the table with large barrier obstacles like dressers, which were all secured by ropes and straps.  This arrangement prevented any other boxes or objects from being able to shift into animals during the 6-7 hour drive.  Immediately upon arrival, animals were unloaded from the truck and put indoors, but they were not unpacked from boxes for a few more days.


ZERO tarantulas (out of at least a thousand) were found dead as a result of moving practices used, and we're very happy about that.  The only thing we might do differently if we ever need to move again is to use painters tape to secure the lids on some of the larger enclosures.  The lack of tape didn't cause any death or damages this time, but we did have one young female A. geniculata free ranging within the cardboard box when we unpacked, because the lid of her enclosure had been knocked ajar. 


On a final note, I would also like to add that every animal was moved essentially twice.  Due to issues with a defective truck, we had to abandon making the move on the first attempt after about 1 hour in, so we had to unload everything and try again a few days later.  All the tarantulas stayed boxed up during the delay period.


And there you have it.  Moving sucks, but it can absolutely be done safely with your animals, and it isn't has hard or complicated as some people make it.