Let’s keep it real … tarantula keeping is not the most respected hobby in the world, and tarantula keepers are generally thought to be a bit eccentric at best and creepy at worst. And believe me … I get it.
With the majority of folks either being terrified of spiders, or thinking that they are disgusting animals to be squished on sight, it’s difficult for them to understand why someone would willingly choose to keep larger, hairier, scarier versions of these creatures as pets.
When asked why I don’t keep “normal” pets, I explain that I have three big rescue dogs who I absolutely adore (I’m petting two in between typing this). I also grew up on a small farm, and I look forward to the day when I will get to keep goats again. I don’t eschew common animals to keep giants spiders; I love them all.
Inevitably, when I’m asked what I could possibly find appealing about these “giant, hairy bugs,” I usually mention my fascination with them from an early age (even when I considered myself arachnophobic), and the fact that they’ve been around for millions of years. I try to explain the thrill of watching them molt and mature from fragile slings to large, bold adults. I talk about how feeding and maintenance time becomes a way for me to relax and unwind.
Then, knowing full well what’s coming, I usually explain how I actually find them to be quite beautiful.
“Beautiful?” the person will ask incredulously, a look of pure disgust smeared over his/her face.
“Beautiful,” I answer again, then take out my phone to show a couple pics of my stunners.
And usually, this is when the non-believer mutters a stunned, “Wow, is that real?” then asks to see more pics. It never gets old.
For some, this glimpse of a few of the more colorful species is enough to help them cross the threshold from fear and disgust to curiosity. What do they eat? How long do they live? How to you house them? These are some of the questions that often follow.
Do I win everyone over? No, of course not. People have a right to their opinions, and I understand my love for tarantulas puts me in the minority. Still, more often than not, the next time I talk to one of these people about my hobby, their questions are more genuine and inquisitive and not as judgmental.
Yes, tarantulas can be beautiful. Want proof?