Big Hairy Spiders

Did you seriously just click on a link that said «Big Hairy Spiders»? I like the way you think.

I know I said in my first post ever that I decided to have a dance blog and not a tarantula blog. But I really love my hairy land octopodes, so I’m just going to dedicate this one page to them. The title should be enough to deter errant arachnophobes. Everyone else can still their curiosity, earn my eternal gratitude or just get to tell their friends: «I met someone on the internet who has some seriously freaky pets.»

Take care to say that out of earshot of the tarantulas, though.

I’m joking: tarantulas can’t really hear and their eyesight is very poor, so hand language is also out of the question. They compensate for these shortcomings by being able to smell, taste and feel vibrations with specialised bristles on their entire body.

Here are some random facts about tarantulas:

  • Their heart is located in their butt (properly called abdomen)
  • They grow by molting: losing and replacing their entire exoskeleton. Basically, it looks like a new, larger spider comes out of the old spider. Insects, crabs and other spiders also do this.
  • There are over 900 species in the tarantula family. Not breeds like Persian cats and Maine Coon cats, but species like house cats, bengal tigers and snow leopards. Therefore, they differ significantly in size, appearance, lifestyle and care requirements.
  • Species from the Americas – New World – are less venomous. Species from Africa and Asia – Old World – are more so. (Australia, too. Obviously.) There are exceptions.

I have always liked spiders in general and had wanted a tarantula from the moment I realised it was possible. Unsurprisingly, my mother gave me to understand that such things were in fact quite impossible as long as I was living under her roof. Then, a while ago, it suddenly struck me that I was now all grown-up and could therefore adult all over the place by doing whatever the hell I wanted. I read a lot and bought my first big hairy spider in February 2016, followed the second one in June 2016,  the third one in December 2016 and the fourth in April 2017. And here they are!

Auri

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Brachypelma albopilosum (Honduran Curlyhair), 9-year-old female

Auri loves to dig and lives mostly underground. She is docile and slow unless food is involved. In time, she covers her enclosure in a thin carpet of spiderwebs.

Pixel

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Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens (Greenbottle blue or GBB), 3 years old, suspected male

GBBs are hands-down one of the most showy species of tarantulas in the world. Pixel’s colours are magnificent, he rarely hides and has built an enormous amount of thick webbing throughout his enclosure. Pixel is also lightning fast when he wants to be.

Beth’tilac

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Lasiodora parahybana (Brazilian salmon pink bird eater), age unknown, female

I think Beth is ridiculously adorable. One of the largest species of tarantula in the world, she is not full-grown yet. I let the SO name her in the hope to better reconcile him with the idea of getting yet another spider. I’m not sure it worked, but the name of a monstrous spider boss from WoW suits a permanently hungry tarantula that is fast approaching a very impressive size.

Aloy

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Grammostola pulchra (Brazilian Black), 5 years old, female, body length about 3 cm.

Aloy is black, black, black, which is why I got her in the first place. Slow growing and not quite as easily available as the other species in my posession, she is the smallest tarantula I have ever owned. She is also surpisingly nervous for a species that is supposed to be a pet rock.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why???

Because I can. Also, because they are beautiful and fascinating exotic pets that require minimal care.

Is it poisonous?

No, and I wouldn’t eat my tarantulas anyway. They are, however, venomous. All four are New World tarantulas, so if they bite me, nothing terrible will happen. The bite will swell up and hurt for a few hours. I haven’t been bitten yet. They can also kick butt nettles urticating hairs at you, which will give you whole new insights into the wonderful world of itching.

What do you feed them?

Insects. I used to keep roaches at home, but frankly, it is much easier to just pop down to the pet store every couple of weeks and buy a couple of crickets or locusts than to keep them. Tarantulas prefer live prey, which they kill quickly. But they need astoundingly little of it. It is possible, but to the extent of my knowledge entirely unnecessary to feed them mice.

Do they live together?

No. If you put two tarantulas of almost any kind into one enclosure, you’ll end up with one fat tarantula.

Can you teach them tricks?

No. Though extremely large, these are still just spiders. Their brains are primitive. They do not think, have no emotions and do not get attached to or even recognise their owner.

Is your SO okay with it?

According to him, he is indifferent towards tarantulas. He will occasionally peek inside their enclosures and even take some photos when I’m not around.

How old do they get?

Females can live to 10, 15, 20 or even 30 years. Males die much earlier.

Aren’t you ashamed that such beautiful animals have been removed from their natural habitat and shipped over the ocean to be your pets?

No. Pixel, Auri, Beth and Aloy were captive-bred in Switzerland.

Do you take them out and let them crawl all over your face?

No. Letting a tarantula crawl on your face is not the best idea ever. Not only are they venomous, however mildly, they also have exceedingly large and strong fangs. In addition, urticating hairs are very bad for your eyes. Second, I do not handle my tarantulas very often, because it is stressful and even dangerous to the spider. A fall from even a foot high can easily kill them.

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If you want cuddles, these are the types of spiders you should get.

I just realised that I have now reached the level of insanity where my pets have a page on the internet. Congratulations to me.