by Leonard Rego
Have you ever watched the movie 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'? In the opening scene, Harrison Ford, famous for his role as Indiana Jones in the movie, brushes a hairy spider off his shoulder - and the viewers almost always go 'eeeww' in disgust or 'ooohh' at Mr. Jones' bravery!
Almost as famous - at least in spider-world (and second only to Spiderman in the popularity ratings) - is the Tarantula spider, mostly due to its size and its sinister reputation. Now if there were ever a case of bad publicity, this has got to be it.
Tarantulas, while venomous like all spiders, are shy, delicate creatures and their bite is only (usually) as poisonous as a bee sting, although you might have an unpleasant reaction if you're allergic to their venom. As pets, they're not meant to be handled too much, and can be fun to observe.
The most common one among all the 800 species found worldwide is the Chilean Rose tarantula. Females can live as long as 20 years, and no, their hairy legs don't turn grey when they get old (although they do go bald in some spots)!
All spiders belong to the class Arachnida (er-ak-nid-aa), as do scorpions, ticks, mites and a few other kinds of creepy crawlies. There is an interesting story behind how the word Arachnida came about. Arachnida comes from 'Arachne' (er-ak-nee), who in Greek Mythology was a young woman from Lydia who boasted that she could weave better than the patron goddess of weaving herself, Athena. A contest was held and, angered by Arachne's challenge, Athena turned Arachne into a spider.
Stories apart, spiders - and tarantulas in particular - make some of the most fascinating pets, and if you can look past their undeserved reputation for being dangerous and 'evil', you'll have an eight-legged, palm-sized friend for many years to come.
- Before you buy your Tarantula
- Choosing your pet
- Care and feeding
- A name for your pet
- Tarantula Trivia
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