SELECTED REFERENCES FOR THE
THE BASIC, ARACHNOPHILE'S LIBRARY
Here are listed a number of literary works deemed to be essential to the hobby. This doesn't mean that there are no other good books available, just that these are the bare minimum. At the moment, that amounts to eight titles, a website, and an indefinite number of smaller booklets.
The Togo starburst tarantula. Gorgeous creatures, but their bite packs a wallop! NOT FOR HANDLING!
NOTE THAT YOU'RE NOT BEING TOLD THAT YOU SHOULD GO OUT AND BUY THESE BOOKS! (Although you certainly can if you wish.)
Several of these books are popular enough that they are commonly found on the shelves of public libraries. Others, not so much. If your friendly, neighborhood, public library does not have them available, you should ask a librarian about the possibility of ordering them from another library through the Interlibrary Loan Service or its equivalent. Also, college and university libraries often prove to be good places to look for many of these.
If you like what you see, they're available for sale "off the shelf" from many of the pet shops in your area, by special order from any bookstore (many of the larger ones may even have them in stock) and by order over the Internet from places like Abe Books, Alibris, Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble, BooksPrice and many, many more. Perform an Internet search using the keywords book dealers, book sellers, and books for sale if you wish. You may also prepend used to any of those search strings.
The four books that are highlighted in blue below are considered basic readers in arachnoculture. In a perfect world these would be read well BEFORE acquiring the first tarantula to give the newbie all the basic (and a lot of not-so-basic) information required for caring for the tarantula before spending a lot of money, or even killing the creature. But unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. So, grudgingly bowing to reality, it is strongly urged that every novice read as many of the highlighted books as possible, as soon as possible. Your savings in time, money, anxiety, and dead tarantulas will be well worth the effort.
Entries arranged alphabetically by first author.
- American Arachnological Society, Common Names Committee. 1997. COMMON NAMES OF ARACHNIDS.
- A comprehensive listing of all common names of arachnids officially recognized by the American Arachnid Society's Common Names Committee. Absolutely necessary for dealers, authors, and hobbyists alike. This publication may be downloaded for free from the American Arachnological Society (free, unrestricted download), and from the American Tarantula Society (free download, but may require a membership and a password).
- Baxter, RN. 1993. KEEPING AND BREEDING TARANTULAS. Chudleigh Publishing. Ilford, Essex, England.
- Excellent photography. Even though this book is now becoming a bit dated it is still one of the better enthusiast books. It is certainly worth consideration as a part of your library. This book has proven to be a bit difficult to acquire in North America. Try ordering it from a local bookstore, but you may have to order it over the Internet.
- Breene, RG. 2005. QUICK AND EASY TARANTULA CARE. TFH Publications.
- A remarkably good book in spite of its small size and modest price. Almost painfully simple but with all the basic information. Dr. Breene was co-founder and president of the American Tarantula Society for many years, and this book clearly demonstrates the level of his expertise. An excellent starter book, although you'll soon outgrow it.
- Foelix, RF. 2011. BIOLOGY OF SPIDERS. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-973482-5.
- If you have more than one or two tarantulas, or if you've had tarantulas more than a year, or if you really want to know about these amazing creatures, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!
- Levi HW and Levi LR. 1968. SPIDERS AND THEIR KIN. Golden Press/Western Publishing Co. ISBN 0-307-24021-5.
- A great little book for the amateur arachnologist. Profusely illustrated with scientifically accurate color drawings. Most useful in identifying spiders and other common arachnids to their orders and families. Illustrates commonly encountered species from around the world. Many reprintings.
- Marshall, SD. 2002. TARANTULAS AND OTHER ARACHNIDS. Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
- A somewhat more advanced book than Breene's, but very, very good. Offers an alternative care regimen that appeals to many enthusiasts. Dr. Marshall is among the very few professional arachnologists in the world. Though written simply and clearly for the layman, his book is delightfully authoritative.
- Platnick, NI. [Updated about every six months.] THE WORLD SPIDER CATALOG.
- A monumental work begun by P. Bonnet before World War II as Bibliographia Araneorum and continued and nurtured by a number of arachnologists thereafter, it is now maintained by Dr. Platnick. This work contains entries for every known and described species of spider on Planet Earth. There is a wealth of information encoded in the entry for each species of spider, and cross-correlated to a bibliographic listing of every scientific paper dealing with the taxonomy and nomenclature of spiders since the time of Linnaeus. THIS IS THE GOLD STANDARD FOR ARACHNOLOGY!
- The index page is located at World Spider Catalog. The webpage dealing with our Theraphosid tarantulas is located at Theraphosidae.
- If for no other reason than as a means of checking the correct spelling of scientific names, every arachnid dealer, every pet importer, wholesaler and pet shop selling tarantulas, every amateur arachnologist, and every arachnoculturist should religiously download the relevant webpages from this site twice a year. The best news is that it's FREE!
- Schultz, SA and Schultz, MJ. 2009. THE TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE. Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
- Written for the advanced enthusiast as well as the novice, the novice will want to read this book over and over as more and more information is needed about these fascinating creatures. NOT LIGHT READING, but the goal is to learn as much as you can about these amazing creatures, not so? Highly recommended by many enthusiasts; some call it "the bible" of tarantula care. Now in its third edition. (Note that the author's edition numbering scheme and the publisher's edition numbering scheme differ. See The Tarantula Keeper's Guide for more information.)
- Swagerle, CE. 2012. THE LEGACY OF ANNIE ROSE. Authorhouse Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-4490-1467-4.
- Without a doubt this book is a landmark in tarantula literature. It addresses the problem of arachnophobia, its causes, the effect it has on the victim's life, and how this amazing woman conquered it. IF YOU EVEN THINK YOU'RE AFRAID OF SPIDERS, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!
- As an added bonus, a large portion of the book details Carolyn's successes (and a few disappointments) in raising an unexpected eggsac full of baby Chilean rose tarantulas! IF YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO DO IT, THIS IS THE PLACE TO GO!
None of these books costs as much as a tarantula, but any one of them could save you an immense amount of stress, anxiety, wasted time, effort, and money on useless stuff and dangerous care practices, not to mention dead spiders.
We hesitate to critique other books in the English language because such a practice always seems to come back to haunt us. "What goes around, comes around!" Let's merely say that the novice should exercise the same care with books, other than those listed here, as they would with pet shops, care sheets, and Internet forums; and leave the subject to rest.
However, we are also told that there are several very good books written in languages other than English (e.g., Danish, Dutch, German), but since we can't read those books we can't speak with any authority. If you can read other languages, feel free to explore their literature as well. Once you become experienced in tarantula care, perhaps you'd like to offer a book review on a foreign language book in the American Tarantula Society's Forum Magazine. Or, contact the book's author about the possibility of translating it into English.
American Tarantula Society Treasures
Some time ago, the American Tarantula Society published a number of extremely useful booklets describing various aspects of keeping tarantulas, other arachnids, and related topics. Of limited press runs, the booklets were small, inexpensive, easy to read, and contained good, solid, dependable information. Sadly, they are now all out of print, and there is no possibility that they will ever be reprinted. A few enthusiasts possess copies of them, and a very small underground exists for the distribution of photocopies, but this author does not have any direct contact information for such a market. (Read that to mean that this author can't be of any help finding copies for you. Sorry.)
The following are several of these booklets of particular interest and importance.
- Breene RG, Dean DA, Cokendolpher JC and Reger BH. 1966. Tarantulas of Texas. Their Medical Importance, and World-wide Bibliography to the Theraphosidae (Araneae). American Tarantula Society, Artesia, New Mexico.
- An extremely informative little book addressing the natural history of several Texas tarantulas with notes on many exotic species. Very good bibliography.
- Breene, RG. 1997. ATS Arthropod Medical Manual: Diagnoses and Treatment. American Tarantula Society. Artesia, New Mexico.
- Probably the first printed work to seriously address the topic of tarantula medicine.
- Breene, R. G. and O'Brien M. R. 1998. Concise Care Guide to the 80 Plus Most Common Tarantulas.
- American Tarantula Society. Artesia, New Mexico.
The enthusiast who finds any of these booklets in used book stores or listed on the websites of Internet based book stores is strongly urged to acquire them for their private library, and eventually ensure that they become part of some global library accessible to other enthusiasts.
There are probably others that might be listed. Anyone who wants to nominate a book for entry on this list is encouraged to submit the nomination for consideration.
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Copyright © 1998, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz. Select here for additional copyright information.
This page was initially created on 1998-July-17.
The last revision occurred on 2014-May-22.