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How to choose the right barking spider substrate? If you have been keeping spiders for quite some time, you have most likely seen various types of substrate. But the thing is what seem popular over the last few years may not be the best option today. How to choose the right barking spider substrate? For instance, the vermiculite substrate is very common a few years ago because it provides a deep substrate for all types of spiders and also exotic pets. Nowadays, if you did that and posted it on a forum, you’d be bombarded with abuse! In this article, you’ll learn how to choose the right barking spider substrate?

Substrate Options

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? When it comes to providing the right substrate for your pet barking spider; there is definitely not a one-option-fits-all situation. Every spider breed will completely change what is required and what is tolerated by your spider.

For most barking spider keepers, they will likely get various results from the different types of substrate. Some keepers would want to mix and match different kinds of substrate in order to create consistency for their pet. However, if you are newbie keeper, it’s quite unnecessary to do this. Here are some substrate options you can try for your barking spider and also the options you would want to avoid.

Coco Fiber

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? One of the best substrate for barking spiders is a coco fiber. It is a product that is usually used for gardening. This is somewhat like a soil material especially in terms of its visual appearance as well as texture. Perhaps the only downside is that it doesn’t have any type of additives and minerals that is found in the soil. However, this is the best option for most breeders because in addition to being an eco – friendly materials, it’s also something that barking spiders like.

This type of substrate can also be found in a local garden shop though consistency may vary. It’s usually not in a compact package and comes in large sets. This means that you need to store a big bag of coco fiber if you don’t need to use it right away. Due to the size of garden centre coir options, a few companies have developed coco fiber bricks created out of a compacted coco fiber.

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? What you can do is add water and you can easily see it expand to several times its original size, and then drain the water. Once you’ve finished doing this, it can already be used for your barking spider’s terrarium. Coco fiber is usually mixed with other substrate options in order to create a consistency that might best suit your barking spider. You can always add small amounts of top soil, or even sand if you want to sort of create a different substrate composition.

Pros and Cons

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? Some of the pros of using Coco Fiber include it’s easy storage; function like a regular soil; good for burrowing spiders; best for species that needs high humidity and it can easily absorb water.

Some of the cons include it’s quite expensive among other substrates; it may take some time to absorb water; it can be quite messy and fluffy when it becomes dry.


How to choose the right barking spider substrate? Topsoil is another substrate option you can choose for your barking spider terrarium. You can easily find this in your local garden shop, and it can be a great choice if you want to mix it with coco fiber as well. Just keep in mind that if you plan in using topsoil, you may need to check it first because you don’t want any type of additives like fertilizers even if it’s organic.

Topsoil may do especially for species that don’t require anything fancy. A lot of keepers have shared that they used top soil straight from their garden and haven’t experienced any issue. Keep in mind though that if you do plan on using substrate or decor from outside, it’s best that you bake everything in the oven or boil it in water. By doing so, it will kill any parasites and unwanted bacteria that may be present.

Pros and Cons

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? Some of the pros of using topsoil include being the cheapest option or if you have a garden, this is already free! It can be mixed with other substrate; and it can be packed down so that your barking spider can have fun time burrowing in it.

Some of the cons include quality because due to the nature of topsoil, it can differ between bags. Another is that it can be quite heavy if used as the only substrate and can also create puddle if you spray too much water.   

Peat Moss

Peat moss is something that is also readily available from your local garden store. It’s also a cheap alternative for terrarium substrate. Peat moss is made out of sphagnum moss which is why it can handle moisture. Just like topsoil, you need to make sure that the peat moss you need to buy should not have fertilizers and should be completely organic.

Pros and Cons

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? Some of the pros of using Peat Moss include the inexpensive cost especially if you buy it in bulk. It also works well for spiders that love to burrow. Just like topsoil it is very water absorbent and can be easily mixed with other forms of substrate.

Some of the cons include becoming quite dusty when it gets dry. The product quality can also vary from packaging.  Sometimes, peat moss contains fungal spores which is not good for your terrarium and your pet.


Vermiculite is still something that spider keepers use because it is composed of minerals that can absorb lots of water. Back then, vermiculite is the go – to substrate for spider keepers but that has change since, especially as it’s usually quite easy to see how much spiders don’t even like standing on it. Most spider keepers use this substrate as a form of additive to other substrate materials, to aid in water retention and humidity.

Pros and Cons

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? Some of the pros of using Vermiculite include being a great water absorbent. It’s also always available in garden and pet stores. It’s very lightweight and doesn’t create mold.

Some of the cons include not being very aesthetic; it shouldn’t be used as the sole substrate because some spider species don’t like it.

Types of Substrate You Should Avoid

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? Now that you have an idea on the types of substrate that could be good for your barking spider’s terrarium, it’s also best to know the types that you should avoid. Although the list may not be complete, you’ll learn why these substrates are not a good choice both for new and old keepers.


Sand is one of the most common substrate mistake that keepers especially newbies use for their pet’s terrarium. You can still use sand but it should only be used in small quantities when being added to another kind of substrate. Sand is not totally harmful but it’s not beneficial either. This is because it doesn’t hold water well and your barking spider will not like standing on it because the burrows collapse. You can still sprinkle some on the top of your substrate or just mix a small amount in.

Bark Chips

How to choose the right barking spider substrate? There are different types of bark chips that are available online and in most pet shops. Bark chips may look nice but for barking spider keeping, they’re really not. This is because like sand, it doesn’t hold moisture well, and it’s are very prone to becoming moldy and rotten in continuously humid environments.

Your barking spider will also have a hard time creating a burrow. The sad part is that most sellers from pet shops will advise newbies to get bark chips whenever they’re selling a spider species. Perhaps, they don’t know any better.


Just like most animals, barking spiders don’t like standing on gravel. You might see your pet disliking it so much to the point that they will be stressed out and just settled on climbing in their cage just so they don’t have to stand on it. It can also injure your pet. While gravel doesn’t go moldy, it also holds no moisture at all. You can still add a little bit for aesthetic purposes but don’t use this as the enclosure’s main substrate.


How to choose the right barking spider substrate? The best substrate or mix of substrate is something that your pet barking spider can burrow in and also be able to absorb just enough water. This is why providing peat moss, coco fiber or topsoil as substrate is best. The most important thing is to ensure is that you pack your substrate down hard so that your barking spider can create a nice burrow for himself.

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