There is the argument that this webpage is superfluous, and should be melded into the Humidity webpage instead. But, this topic appears so often on the Internet forums (the aphorism, "crops up like toadstools in a lawn," would almost seem appropriate) that we decided to elevate it to an independent status and merely cross-link to it instead.
Misting is SSSOOOooo twentieth century! It was never a very good idea, and now that we know much better ways of controlling humidity, it's downright obsolete.
Even so, we still persistently hear people recommending misting or spraying their tarantulas' cages twice a day, once a day, every second day, once a week, or "whenever it needs it." But, what's the real story behind it?
Contrary to popular opinion, tarantulas aren't weird. Humanoids are!
The tarantula doesn't fiddle with things. Generally, they just sit there and conserve energy. Oh yes, they spend a little time grooming their burrows. Once in a while they spend some time grooming themselves like a cat. And, sometimes they meditate at the front of their cage; other times they meditate at the rear. (A change of scenery is often a good thing!) A few of the very brightest tarantulas will even "play" with their water dishes or a ping pong ball if they're given an opportunity. But generally, they just sit there and conserve energy.
Humanoids on the other hand, for some completely unfathomable reason, apparently are driven to fiddle with things, even when there's no good reason for it. We can never leave well enough alone. Sometimes that's a good thing. It helped us develop the perfect pizza for our Saturday night parties. And, what would our expressways be like if someone hadn't been really anal about straight lines and smooth curves? We may never have gotten to the Moon if it weren't at least partly due to this fixation.
But, sometimes it's a bad thing. We chew our nails. We constantly rearrange the living room furniture. We incessantly beleaguer a stray lock of hair. We mist our pet tarantulas against all reason and the advice of others.
The modern spray bottle was invented by Dr. Jules Montenier in 1947. (Imagine what life would have been like if we hadn't supplied you with that little datum!) Apparently within minutes of its invention, humanoids were using the mister to dampen the lives of almost everything that wouldn't hold still: their underarms, wrinkled laundry, horticultural plants, hot cross buns, our hair in preparation for a haircut, the barbeque grill, and much more. And, being a cultivated fern, orchid, or a pet tarantula would never be the same again.
The name of the very first person to spray their tarantula's cage is lost in time. Neither will we ever know precisely what compulsion moved them to spray a giant, fuzzy spider. We don't spray our Teddy bears, do we? Well, at least I don't!
But, once the practice acquired a toehold in the arachnoculture hobby, it spread like wildfire. For decades, if you didn't have a mister to torment your tarantula with at least once a day, you weren't a proper arachnoculturist. EVERYBODY who was ANYBODY in the hobby practiced the arcane art, even though few if any had any real reason or idea for why they were doing so. Except for yours truly, who is a bit of an anachronism in other ways as well. Yes, I once owned a sprayer/mister. (I think I still have one someplace in my motorhome.) But, I used mine for a proper purpose: Spraying a stinky, bluish, cleaner on the bathroom mirror every second Saturday to clean the glass in preparation for our semiweekly, Saturday evening, Spider Orgy! Who? Me? Weird? Only on a normal day!
The basic, underlying hypothesis is that one needs to spray or mist a tarantula's cage often in order to maintain an adequate humidity. Otherwise the poor creature that you just shelled out a day's wages for was sure to crash and burn. But those were the days when we understood neither humidity nor tarantulas worth beans. And worse, we'd been lied to for all our lives on both accounts!
Hopefully, by now you've read the Humidity webpage and if nothing else, understand that nothing you'd been told on the subject can be trusted. Until now. Perhaps you even understand a little better how humidity really does work. If you haven't already read that webpage, do so now.
And equally hopefully, you've read the four books recommended in Stan's Rant, especially TKG3, so now you have a much better grip on arachnoculture in general, and an even more profound understanding of how badly you'd been misled as a child! (If you haven't already read those books, you're still living in the dark ages. You really, badly need to keep up with current events. Read them ASAP!)
If your tarantula's cage is fully enclosed or has a cover that retards at least 95% of the ventilation in the cage, the water evaporating from the water dish almost surely has already raised the humidity to almost 100%. All your time and efforts spent misting were wasted even before you started.
If you don't have such a cover on the tarantula's cage to retard ventilation, all the precious moisture that you've sprayed into the cage will have evaporated and wafted off into the room almost before you can put the mister away. All your time and efforts were wasted within a few minutes of walking away from the cage. Bummer!
And, in an effort to maintain proper humidity for longer than just a few minutes, if you've wet the cage down so much that the substrate and furnishings are dripping wet and stay wet for more than an hour or two, you might as well be down on your knees, begging for a vermin infestation or disease infection. (There's a very good reason why we rant endlessly about maintaining a dry cage for almost all tarantulas. See Mighty Mites.)
As though that weren't enough, it is almost impossible to mist or spray a tarantula's cage without also getting a little spray onto the tarantula. From a tarantulas point of view, getting sprayed is almost as bad as someone scraping their fingernails down a blackboard. It sets off almost every sensory nerve on the spider's body.
And, almost all tarantulas abhor being wet or being kept on damp substrate, most especially the desert species. To these creatures, a damp cage is like a wet bed is to you!
And with this new knowledge comes added responsibility. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to jump on just about anybody who espouses misting, and cause as much emotional mayhem as possible. Well.... maybe in a nice way. We're all friends here, no?
This webpage will NOT self-destruct at all.
Enjoy your little, 8-legged firefighter!
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Copyright © 2013-May-21, Stanley A. Schultz.
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This page was initially created on 2013-May-21.
The last revision occurred on 2013-June-05.