‘T’ Time Adoption/Rescue Facebook Group- An Interview with Samantha Miller

A brand new group hoping to fill a much needed hole in the hobby. 

Several years back, I got an email from a frantic hobbyist who was preparing to start his freshman year in college. With only a few weeks to go before he was to move into his dorm, he made an unfortunate discovery; this particular school didn’t allow any pets in the freshman dorm rooms. This young man had amassed a modest collection of a half-dozen or so tarantulas, and his mother, an arachnophobe, had already made it quite clear that the animals couldn’t be left behind. Instead of enjoying his last remaining days before starting school, this poor guy was desperately trying to find a new home for his beloved pets. He was even willing to part with them for free if they went to a good home, and he was hoping I might know of some place that would be willing to take his collection and ensure his animals got the proper care.

Over the years, I’ve received several similar emails from hobbyists looking for someone to adopt their pets, and I’ve usually directed them to the classifieds section of Arachnoboards or FaunaClassifieds. The truth is, although there are obviously a plethora of options for folks keeping warm-blooded vertebrates like cats, dogs, ferrets, etcetera, the options for invertebrate keepers are quite limited. Although a few shelters will take in the oddball invert, most know little about their care or are particularly interested in dealing with the “creepy crawlies.” I’ve heard of cases of people with one or two spiders donating them to a school science teacher or a friend or family member, but what does one do when she has several spiders? Or, perhaps someone has outgrown the hobby and recognizes that he no longer has the passion to keep these animals. Where should he go to get them new homes? Sure, Craigslist and the classifieds can work, but selling off larger collections can take time…and emergency situations can lead to strict deadlines.

Then there are hoarding cases or instances in which a keeper dies leaving behind dozens of pets that no one wants or knows how to care for. What happens to these animals after being confiscated by the authorities?

Well, now there may be a new option.

While chatting with hobbyist Samantha Miller, I learned about her idea to create an adoption and rescue service specifically for inverts. Within weeks, she had set up the ‘T’ Time Adoption/Rescue group on Facebook in an effort to see her idea come to fruition. With the membership numbers swelling and the group off to quite the auspicious beginning, I caught up with Samantha to learn more about this fantastic and much-needed new group.

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Samantha!

Hi Tom! Thank you for hearing my story and taking your time to discuss this with me. This means a lot to me and other ‘T’ Keepers of the world. Not to forget, the ‘T’s will thank you too 🙂

My pleasure! So, to start off, how did you first come up with the idea for ‘T’ Time Adoption/Rescue?

I had seen a story out of Texas that a hobbyist had been evicted from his home. As the authorities entered the apartment, it was discovered this person left behind numerous inverts, not limited to strictly ‘T’s. Animal control did in fact take these animals and I believe they have all gone to a keeper around the area. I have tried to follow up on the whereabouts, but information is hard to find, so I am not 100% positive where these animals ended up. I would have liked the opportunity to adopt these animals, or at least a few. This sparked a concern in me, as not a lot of people are willing to take in and foster such animals due to fear, lack of knowledge and the like.

I am in Tarantula Owners Worldwide group on Facebook and made a post asking if anyone would be interested in this type of group. The response was immediate and positive. That is when I decided to create the group ‘T’ Time Adoption/Rescue. There have been great stories shared of people rescuing or adopting these inverts, and it is always nice to hear the success stories. But one can only imagine how many unsuccessful stories there are for every successful one. But here in our group, we can all have ‘T’ Time together. I don’t know why, but I just love the name!

Having seen firsthand what most people think of our hobby, and I can only imagine what happens with the unsuccessful cases… I know when you shared the idea with me, I thought, it’s about time. It sounds like others agree as well. With over 350 members already, it looks like the response has been fantastic!

The response has been amazing. I was not expecting it to take off as well as it has already. The requests keep coming in almost daily from people all over the world. It is great to know that people have a place to turn when in need.

When I first created the group, I felt kind of silly, but now I feel pretty good. I am gaining confidence and knowledge. If we can help save one ‘T’, that is a success. We won’t be able to save them all as much as we would like to, unfortunately. But such is life, and to save them all would be impossible. So I set my goal small and build from there. It is also an amazing feeling knowing I helped bring others together. I am a bit of a hermit and a bit reclusive but this helps me come out of my shell a bit. I know I can’t be the only one lol.

You’re definitely not the only one (stop pointing at me, Billie…). The part that really blew me away is that you guys are not just limited to the United States, but have affiliates all over the world. Was this originally part of the plan?

I originally did not intend on utilizing the global aspect, but then realized this hobby is not limited to just the United States. Therefore, I readjusted my idea/goal to make sure I have included the globe, which I believe to be a great idea and a great way to communicate with those across the world. We even have Spider-man, Alan Hickin in our group, and that feels amazing. Just had to throw that in there! I am hoping to spread the group to more and more places.

I don’t blame you for throwing that in; Alan is a great guy! Which countries do you currently have members in?

From what I gather as of right now, it is looking like the U.S., Canada, Malaysia, the U.K., Philippines, South Africa and others I can’t name off the top of my head. There may be other countries that have not been listed. We are still working out the files and the technical issues that we are having. Seems that some people are having a hard time getting the file to open. But we are working on this and will update this list as soon as possible. Then we will be sure to add everyone who would like to be on this list. There are quite a few right now and I anticipate the list growing once everything is worked out. My amazing admin, Rachael Hawkins has been working on this project around her family and life. She is amazing to have help me on this endeavor.

I know that there is a rabid contingent of Filipino hobbyists (I may be part of a Filipino tarantula hobbyist Facebook group…). I might be able to help you there.

For folks interested in joining the group, what do they need to know? What expectations are there?

First off, I would like to mention that this is a fairly new group. As with anything new, it takes a little time and patience for it to be considered successful. I have an administrator, Rachel Hawkins, who has put together a spreadsheet with a list of members and their locations. The goal is for anyone in need to be able to check the list, find either their location or some place near them, and contact that individual personally to discuss details. I don’t recommend to put out there in public the situations at hand if they are personal or considered embarrassing to the individual in need. However, if someone wants to put their story out there, that is fine as well. Again, no judgement will be tolerated. We just ask that the basics be shared or at least a small blurb on the success and experience of the adoption or rescue. This will help work out kinks and answer questions a few may have about the process. We are not responsible for shipping costs as that will be between those individuals involved.

With the documentation of individuals and their locations, we have experienced a little technical difficulty but we work on the issues as soon as we know about them and we have the time to correct things. The response time is quite fast in this group. We have not yet had stories of anyone in need of new homes or foster for any animals yet, as it is still a new group. There are, however, plenty of stories about experiences with previously adopted/rescued animals.

For new members, we do ask them to complete the three questions they are asked prior to getting an approval. For the most part, that hasn’t been much of an issue. This group is very helpful for information, tips and ideas. This group is pretty laid back and we do not put up with any of the negativity that a lot of other groups tend to get. We do not judge others if they make a mistake or for any other reason. We also like to keep it family friendly. I personally, would like to keep it so children interested in the hobby can read and watch what is posted. We also understand that not everyone will agree with everything posted or stated. Discussions are allowed as long as they are kept civil and clean. We do not allow bashing of others either; none of this will be tolerated. Posts about people getting scammed or ‘ripped off’ are allowed as long as it is legit and presented in a mature manner. As far as the rest, we want others to enjoy the group and have fun watching and learning.

I must note that we also do not allow selling unless extreme circumstances arise and sales are to be approved by myself or another admin. We are all aware of the many sell/trade groups out there, and there is a plethora of them. We also understand collections can be expensive and hard to give away for that reason as well as the love for their animals. So in some cases it can be looked at as far as selling. But that also will be required to be approved by an admin.

Personally, I think that all sounds great. Lord knows that some of the forums and FB groups can be a bit…hostile toward newbies. Glad to hear that you’ve created a safe place for information and dialog.

Now, I’m assuming that when there isn’t rescuing to be done, members can just use the group to socialize and share pictures and stories about their pets?

Absolutely! We love to see other keepers’ ‘T’s and hearing their stories. If we don’t share our stories, good or bad, how are we going to help others learn? If I can help someone learn from my mistake, that is amazing in my book! Throwing ideas off others is a great learning tool and helps create camaraderie between others in the hobby and all over the world. However, we still have to worry about scammers, as I found out the hard way with Freddie. What happened with Freddie is that I had gotten scammed when I tried to trade one of my tarantula, and it ultimately led to me calling the Law Enforcement agency in this guy’s area and received my original T back in bad condition. She was almost dead but I got her going again. Through the whole ordeal I had tremendous amount of support from the followers of this group. I don’t know that I would have gone as far as I did to get my ‘T’ back if I didn’t have their support. They helped me keep going and ultimately, I did receive my Freddie back. I owe a lot of that to the group. I still get questions on her updates and her well being. If I have questions, they are always willing to help me out. No matter how big or small the questions are, someone is always there helping out. So we encourage people to share stories and ask questions. There is only one question that is dumb…

…the one NOT asked!

As a teacher, I have to wholeheartedly agree! Now, for anyone interested in joining, is there anything in pipe that you’d like them to know about?

I have a profile picture contest each month where other members can vote on their favorite. The one with the most likes wins. We do this usually the last week of the month. My admins and I are discussing possible giveaways in the future so the winner will receive a small gift. We are also discussing possibilities of being able to win a gift certificate from a trusted breeder for an invert of their choosing. That is something that will be in the future as well. Once details are figured out we will post the updates as they arise. Right now I think most people are trying to recover from the holidays, myself included, so it would be more than likely closer to August for the live giveaway. Something to think about.

Man, that sounds like a ton of fun!

Logistically, how do you forge ahead and raise public awareness for the group? I’m assuming the focus right now is to swell the ranks with hobbyists, but are there plans to try to make the general public aware of the group?

This is a great question. This is something that has been discussed between myself and other admins. So far, this is my first real reach out to anyone to help raise awareness. I have reached out to all of the veterinarians in my county as well as surrounding areas. Right now I am researching information on how to become a certified-legit resource for people to use. Two of my admins are also assisting in this research. As we live on opposite sides of the U.S., we would like to make a few places headquarters, for lack of better word.

The details are still in the beginning stage of development, but with as much passion as I have for this hobby, I can’t let this idea go. I first need to prove myself within the hobby to build the trust of others before I think I can really progress at the moment. So, that is my first step. That is what I am working on now. I want people to know they can come to the group when in need, for any situation, and without judgement. We realize that sometimes life happens and things can be out of our control. Our concern is the health and safety of the animals in need (as well as the people involved.). I have even offered to foster an animal until the individual could get on his feet again if he needed. Fortunately it turned out in favor of this individual, so my services were not needed. But the offer always stands.

It definitely sounds like you’re taking a very determined but level-headed approach to this endeavor. Now, a little about you! How did you first get into the hobby?

When I was young, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, which is ideal for spiders and other creepy crawlies to live. I have always been fascinated with bugs and animals in general. However, one day a friend of mine, (I was around 8-9) had a black widow in a cup and threw it on my face. Not what I called a good time! Since then I became afraid of spiders. Black widows to be exact. In my house, it never failed that every day there would be a black widow living next to the toilet. Every day, I would discard this little creature because I was afraid of it (not to mention, it hanging out where I needed to be). A bite on the rump was not my idea of a good time…so naturally, I got rid of it. This is when (in my area at least) the black widow had a horrible reputation, not that a whole lot has changed around here about them. But I have since learned and researched these spiders. At the time I was under the impression it would run me down just to bite me. Lol. I had heard the horror stories at a young age, and they really got to me. But now my thoughts are different.

Well, about 17 years ago, I decided that I was over this ‘silly little fear’. I decided to purchase a tarantula to help me overcome this. What I thought I bought was a G. rosea. However, turns out she is G. porteri. Either way, I loved her regardless. She was a good 4” when I got her so she was the biggest spider I had ever seen. Oddly enough, she didn’t scare me. She was sold as a juvenile, but about a month after I received her, she laid an egg sac which I think was a phantom. I discarded that as well. I did not know exactly what I was doing as I was just a beginner.

Rosy was my only ‘T’ for several years. I had to have a friend of mine watch over her for me as my living conditions at the time were not the greatest for her during cold winters. She is still at my friends house, as my friend grew quite attached and I couldn’t stand taking her away. I visit almost every day anyways, so we share her. Of course, her name is Rosy the ‘T’…

I watched Tarantulaguy76 for quite some time before he no longer did videos on YouTube, but he definitely lit a spark in my mind to pursue more information and desire to own more ‘T’s. I decided to dive into the hobby even heavier a few years ago after doing more research on these inverts and seeing all the beautiful creatures out there. I did a lot of research as far as husbandry, temperaments, care needs, venom potency, and trustworthy breeders. I enjoy watching videos about the inverts and I learn along the way. For some reason, I can retain the information I learn about this hobby better than any other topic. Work doesn’t count!

So now I have a wonderful addiction. I am so passionate about this hobby it is crazy. Who knew I would ask for dirt for Christmas!

What a fantastic story, and amazingly similar to my own. It’s incredible how many folks gravitate to the hobby BECAUSE of their fears of spiders.

Now that you’re obviously addicted to the hobby, which species do you currently keep?

My collection is currently made up of 99% new world ‘T’s. So I will list them:

  • 1-M. robustom
  • 1-B. vagans
  • 1-L. parahybana
  • 1-A. brocklehursti
  • 1-N. chromatus
  • 1-G. concepcion –Suspected species (Adopted)
  • 2-A. seemani BCF
  • 2-B. albopilosum–1 honduran/1-nicaraguan
  • 1-E. murinus
  • 1-C.versicolor
  • 1-6 Eyed sand spider
  • 1-Ravine Trapdoor
  • 1-G. porteri
  • 1-G. pulchripes
  • 1-H. petersii scorpion
  • 1-H. lividum–Freddie– my only OW.
  • 1-GBB
  • 1-Euathlus sp. red
  • 1-P. irminia

I am waiting to receive these from Fear Not Tarantulas once the weather is appropriate:

  • G. pulchra
  • G. rosea (red color form)
  • A. diversipes
  • L. Klugi
  • Homoeomma sp Blue 2 Peru
  • Hapalopus sp.  Columbia Large (which I believe Tanya has stated these spiderlings came from you Tom 🙂

I definitely plan on adding to my collection as well. I am doing a lot of research on the OW ‘T’s as I would like to get into some of those. I dove in pretty deep when I got Freddie, my H. lividum. So I figure if I can handle her, I should be good to go. But I will wait on getting an OBT! Not ready for the ‘Orange Bitey Thing’ as of yet. Freddie does just fine with that aspect.

That’s an awesome collection you have already, and all those additions on the way, too. Wow. And those Hapalopus sp. are likely my babies. 

If I may add, I have a missing Euathlus sp. red. Little bugger wiggled its way out of the tiny little air vent in the enclosure after I did some maintenance. Was in the same enclosure for quite a while but then one day..poof…gone. I am pretty sure it is gone gone by now. Worst part is that it was a birthday present for a friend of mine. So, I had to order another to compensate… tiny little buggers. 🙂

Oh no! It’s amazing the tiny holes these guys can squeeze out of. Do you have a personal favorite?

I personally love any ‘T’ with stripes. I love all the different forms and colors of any ‘T’ really. I am just generally drawn to the striped legs. The E. murinus is one of my most favorites. However, the M. robustum is very special to me as well. But I also LOVE the way the N. chromatus looks… UGH how do you put a favorite on a ‘T’? There are so many that I always say is my favorite. I just love them all. Can I say that? Each species has something about them that makes them my favorite. I enjoy the fact that not one is exactly the same as the other. Attitudes are just as different. As for true spiders, it is easier for me to say that any jumping spider is by far the cutest thing ever. Just absolutely love them.

Where do you hope to see ‘T’ Time in the coming years? What is the long-term plan?

I would like to see us be successful and a major resource for people in this hobby. I don’t know if my hopes are over the top but I would like to see this as an organization for these types of creatures. I would like to eventually get involved with ASPCA and those type of organizations. I would like to see protocols in place as well. Just because they aren’t a dog or any fluffy mammal, doesn’t make them less of a pet. They are living creatures just as we are.

As my long-term plan, I guess I haven’t really sat down to think about that yet. I eventually want this to succeed into a ‘thing’ and become a legit organization to represent this hobby and their keepers. I want to see it turn into a resource anyone can use and trust. So far I have been taking it one day at a time. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a ‘T’ show like the dog show? Lol 😉

I am planning on getting some ideas from the group on their opinions on what they would like to see in the future as well. I just haven’t put it to paper to present just yet.

Well, it sounds like you are well on your way to a successful organization! Samantha, a huge THANK YOU for taking the time to talk about this incredibly cool and important new endeavor!

Thank you Tom for getting interested and chatting with me. I definitely look forward to chatting again and watching your amazing videos and keeping up with the information you share. You are amazing at what you do. I feel very fortunate to be able to chat with you. I appreciate all your hard work.

Tell Billie “hi”  for me and to make sure she knows I appreciate her hard work as well. 🙂 After all, every good man has a good woman telling him how to do things… :p Just playing of course ;p

Ha! Thank you…and you’re darn right!

I do want to say Thank You to all of our members for being part of this group and hobby. I Thank my administration team for all they do and the support they have for each other.

Interested in joining? You just click the link to visit and join the ‘T’ Time Adoption/Rescue group!

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