Keeping spiders as pets

Spiders are protected in the Northern Territory (NT). 

You must have a permit to keep a spider in the NT.

If you keep a spider as a pet, you will need to keep a proof of purchase from your pet shop.

A number of spiders are listed as threatened in the NT. You must not remove these spiders from the wild.

You must have a separate permit if you want to import or export spiders into the NT. 

You must have a permit if you take a spider from the wild that is not a threatened species.


You need to research you spider's needs. 

You should try to mimic the spider's natural environment in the enclosure. 

Many spiders have different needs for temperature, humidity, light, habitat and nutrition. 

Most spiders can climb and escape through small gaps, so make sure the enclosure is well sealed but still has enough air.

All aquariums or containers should be sealed with a lid or cover, preferably one with small holes in the top. 

Soil or other substrate should be placed on the bottom of the enclosure, along with sticks and other leaf litter. 

This will provide the spider with things to crawl over or hide underneath. 

Don't leave the container in the sun. Position it in a well lit, warm, shaded area.


Spiders are predators. They eat crickets, bees, moths, grasshoppers, butterflies and flies. 

Pet shops will often sell insects for spiders to eat. 

If you choose to collect food yourself, make sure the insects were not sprayed with insecticides. 

Usually spiders need feeding once or twice each week.

This depends on the species and size of the spider.

Different spiders need different amounts of water. 

Plastic bottle caps or shallow bowls are good water dishes. Otherwise, a soggy piece of cotton wool can provide enough moisture. 

Never spray the cage or enclosure.


Consider all of the below when handling spiders. 

Watch the behaviour of your spider to avoid injury by recognising that your pet is stressed, anxious or about to strike.

Only handle spiders when absolutely necessary.

Handle dangerous wildlife gently.

If you are bitten by a spider, you should seek medical attention immediately. 

Stay calm, sit quietly and wait for an ambulance to arrive.

Spiders are vulnerable to fungal, viral and bacterial infections. It is very important to wash your hands before handling them.

First aid for spider bites

If you or someone else is bitten by a spider, follow these steps for first aid treatment:

Step 1. Get the patient to sit quietly and avoid movement as this increases the spread of the venom to other areas of the body.

Step 2. Don't wash the area of the bite, as the hospital will look at that area to work out the best anti-venom.

Step 3. Apply a firm bandage, but be careful not to stop the flow of blood. Using a broad bandage, start at the location of the bite and move down the limb.

Step 4. Seek medical assistance.

Step 5. Watch the patient for breathing and blood flow. Never leave the patient alone.

In the case of a red back spider, ice should be applied and seek medical assistance immediately.

Last updated: 15 February 2016

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