May 3, 2013


            Almost no one understands my fascination with spiders…big spiders.
At one point, I had a collection of 42 different types of tarantulas.  Not only are they large, but most of them a quite beautiful, with colors running the full spectrum.
“What kind of a pet is a spider?” people often ask me, with fear-tipped scorn.  “What do they do?”
“They tap dance,” I reply.  “There are nights when I can’t sleep at all, for the clicking.  And keeping them in tap shoes isn’t cheap, let me tell you!”
It is a common misconception that tarantulas are deadly poisonous.  They aren’t.  Their bite is no worse than a bee sting.  Of course, if you happen to be allergic to bee stings, it’s a different matter.
However, the fear that these beautiful arachnids inspire can be turned to one’s benefit, if one is creative.
For instance, when tiresome people (a/k/a “relatives”) drop by and stay on interminably, I tell them I’ve just bought something I’d love to show them.  I then wheel out the tank containing my largest spider.
A flatulent tele-Evangelist couldn’t get rid of them faster.
Though I don’t live in the best of neighborhoods, I’ve never had the problem with break-ins that my neighbors have.  There is not a single bar on any of my windows, and I rarely lock my door.  I just put a spider cage on each windowsill.  My viewable spiders apparently lead to speculation as to what else could be inside and out of sight by the prospective miscreant, and voila, they’re someone else’s insurance headache.
My hobby has gained me a reputation in my town for being, shall we say, “eccentric.”  The Welcome Wagon ladies warn those new to the area about me.  The closest any of the townspeople will come to my abode is the sidewalk in front of it.  I don’t get UPS deliveries.  I get UPS drive-bys.  This is when the article I’ve ordered is flung from the cab in the general direction of my front lawn.  I’ve learned not to order anything breakable.
Spiders can be helpful around the house, though.  They really like to work.  My largest one has a paper route, and had absolutely no problem collecting.  The others do things like type, file, and run errands.  They’re good at clearing up after a meal, since they can wash and dry at the same time.
They are sensitive creatures, and will take immediate offense at the singing of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and recitation of “Little Miss Muffet.”  Like everyone else, all they want out of life is a little love and respect.  They are upstanding, concerned members of the community who, after a molt, will drop their used skins in a Goodwill box to be distributed to the less fortunate.  They tried delivering meals to the poor and shut-in, but after the first heart attack, they were forced to seek employment elsewhere.  In my opinion, this is nothing more than specie-ism, and attorneys have been consulted.
Spiders have been on this planet for over 350 million years; with many insects going back even further than that.  So what this tells me is that these creatures have adapted to, and outlived, every adversity thrown at them. 
In short, if the bomb dropped tomorrow, the survivors would be bugs and Keith Richards.
Well, at least the bugs will have something to eat…



  1. You are too funny. I've never known anyone who could make a humor column out of tarantulas. Since I live in the east we are eagerly awaiting the 17-yr locusts. Do tarantulas eat locusts?

  2. Tarantulas will eat any insect, small lizard, small snake that crosses their paths. We don't get the huge population of cicadas that other areas of the country get. And though they look fierce, cicadas can't bite--they have no mouth parts and so do not eat once they emerge. The object is to mate as quickly as possible, then die. Kind of sad, I think.