Can You Get a Pet Tarantula in NZ?

In New Zealand, laws are in place regarding the ownership of pet tarantulas. The Ministry of Importation (MPI) enforces the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) law, which regulates the importation of certain species, including tarantulas. However, captive-bred tarantulas themselves are not considered problematic by the MPI. Some zoos in New Zealand have obtained tarantulas from online vendors, although this practice raises concerns about correct husbandry and the possibility of introducing potentially harmful species into the wild.

  • There are laws in New Zealand regarding the ownership of pet tarantulas.
  • The Ministry of Importation enforces the HSNO law to regulate the importation of tarantulas.
  • Captive-bred tarantulas are generally allowed, but concerns about husbandry and introducing harmful species into the wild exist.
  • Some zoos in New Zealand obtain tarantulas from online vendors.

Tarantulas and the Ecosystem in New Zealand

Contrary to popular beliefs, introducing tarantulas into the New Zealand ecosystem is not likely to have a significant impact. The country’s climate and weather conditions are similar to other regions such as Canada, England, and Florida, where tarantula keeping is common. Tarantulas can thrive in stable, controlled environments within households. However, it is crucial to note that releasing any non-native species into the wild can have negative consequences for the local flora and fauna.

The potential for tarantulas to become invasive species in New Zealand is relatively low. The climate is not conducive to supporting a large tarantula population in the wild. Additionally, the local ecosystem has evolved over millions of years without the presence of these spiders, and introducing them may disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem. While tarantulas may not pose a direct threat to native species, there is always the risk of unintended consequences, such as competition for resources or disruption of the food chain.

It is important to consider the potential impact on the environment before introducing any non-native species, including tarantulas. Responsible pet ownership and adherence to legal guidelines are essential to prevent harm to the ecosystem. Stricter regulations are in place to ensure that tarantulas are kept only in controlled environments such as zoos, where the risks of escape and introduction to the wild are minimized. By following these regulations, we can help protect the unique biodiversity of New Zealand and maintain the delicate balance of its ecosystem.

Table: Comparison of Tarantula Populations in Different Regions

Region Tarantula Population Ecosystem Impact
New Zealand Non-existent or minimal Potential disruption
Canada Widespread Minimal impact
England Established Local adaptations
Florida Numerous species Understanding the impact

Tarantula Ownership in New Zealand

pet regulations

In New Zealand, the ownership of pet tarantulas is subject to specific regulations set by the Ministry of Importation (MPI). Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) law, tarantulas are classified as “zoos”. This classification requires individuals to meet certain criteria and adhere to guidelines to legally keep tarantulas as pets.

As “zoos,” tarantula owners must undergo an annual audit of their tarantula enclosures to ensure they are secure and cannot escape. This measure is in place to prevent the potential introduction of tarantulas into the local environment, as well as to ensure the safety of both humans and other animals.

Institutions such as the Museum of Canterbury and other zoos across the country comply with these regulations, providing proper housing and care for tarantulas. However, hobbyists who wish to keep tarantulas as pets need to meet the same criteria as “zoos” to legally own them in New Zealand.

Requirements for Tarantula Ownership in New Zealand

To meet the MPI’s regulations and be classified as a “zoo” for tarantula ownership, individuals must ensure the following:

  1. The tarantula enclosures are secure and escape-proof.
  2. Proper environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, are maintained within the enclosures.
  3. Owners have knowledge and experience in tarantula husbandry.
  4. Owners can demonstrate their ability to provide proper care, including diet and medical needs.

By meeting these requirements, tarantula owners in New Zealand can enjoy the companionship of these unique pets while also ensuring the safety and well-being of the animals and the local ecosystem.

Requirement Description
Secure Enclosures Tarantula enclosures should be designed to prevent escapes and keep the pets secure.
Environmental Conditions The enclosures must maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels to meet the tarantula’s needs.
Knowledge and Experience Owners should have adequate knowledge and experience in caring for tarantulas to ensure their well-being.
Proper Care Owners must demonstrate the ability to provide proper diet, medical care, and overall well-being for their tarantulas.

The Consequences of Illegal Tarantula Trade

Importing tarantulas illegally in New Zealand can have severe consequences for both individuals and the environment. One notable case involved an attempt to import seven previously unknown orange tarantulas from the Philippines. The person involved, a self-employed aquarium and pool designer, was fined a total of $4630 and required to pay investigation and court costs. This incident serves as a clear example of the penalties that can be imposed for unauthorized tarantula importation.

Illegal tarantula trade poses significant risks to the local environment as well. Releasing non-native species into the wild can disrupt the natural balance of flora and fauna, leading to adverse effects on the ecosystem. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has highlighted the potential harm to native species and the environment as major concerns in their investigations. These risks extend beyond the ecological impact and can also affect human safety and the tourism industry.

By enforcing strict regulations and penalties, New Zealand aims to safeguard its unique biodiversity and prevent the introduction of potentially harmful species. The fines and legal consequences associated with illegal tarantula trade serve as a deterrent, discouraging individuals from engaging in such activities. It is crucial for everyone to be aware of and comply with the laws and regulations surrounding tarantula ownership to protect the environment and ensure the safety of both humans and native species.

Fines and Penalties Risks to Environment
The person involved in the illegal importation of tarantulas was fined $4630 and required to pay investigation and court costs. Releasing non-native tarantulas into the wild can disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem and harm native flora and fauna.
The potential impact on the environment is a major concern addressed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) investigations.

Hazards Associated with Tarantulas

When considering owning a pet tarantula, it is important to be aware of the hazards associated with these fascinating creatures. Tarantulas possess urticating (itchy) hairs that can cause skin irritation, rashes, and allergies in humans. These hairs are easily released by the tarantula as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened or agitated. When these hairs come into contact with human skin, they can cause itching, redness, and even severe allergic reactions in some individuals.

It is crucial to handle tarantulas with care and avoid direct contact with their hairs. If handling is necessary, it is recommended to wear protective gloves to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. It is also important to note that tarantula hairs can become airborne, which can pose a risk to individuals with respiratory conditions such as asthma. Taking proper precautions, such as handling tarantulas in well-ventilated areas or using a mask, can help mitigate this risk.

Besides their urticating hairs, some tarantula species also have venom that they use to immobilize their prey. While tarantula venom is not generally harmful to humans, it can still cause mild reactions such as localized pain, swelling, and redness at the site of the bite. It is worth noting that tarantula bites are rare, as they are typically docile creatures and will only bite as a last resort when they feel threatened or provoked. However, individuals with allergies or compromised immune systems should exercise caution when handling tarantulas.

Hazards Effects
Urticating hairs Skin irritation, rashes, allergies
Tarantula venom Pain, swelling, redness

Overall, responsible ownership and education about the potential hazards associated with tarantulas are essential. By understanding the risks and taking appropriate precautions, tarantula owners can ensure their own safety as well as the well-being of these fascinating creatures.


In conclusion, owning a pet tarantula in New Zealand requires adherence to legal restrictions and responsibilities. The Ministry of Importation (MPI) regulates the importation and ownership of tarantulas under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) law. It is important to note that captive-bred tarantulas are generally not considered problematic by the MPI.

However, it is crucial for tarantula owners to ensure proper husbandry practices and prevent the introduction of non-native species into the local ecosystem. The potential risks associated with the unauthorized release of tarantulas into the wild can have negative consequences for the native flora and fauna.

Failing to comply with the regulations set by the MPI can result in fines and legal consequences. Therefore, it is essential for aspiring tarantula owners to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations governing tarantula ownership in New Zealand. By doing so, they can make informed decisions and ensure the responsible ownership of these fascinating creatures.