Saturday, December 10, 2011

No Tarantulas Allowed?

Ever since I got Audacia, my Grammostola pulchripes, I've been taking her with me to the assortment of summer camps and presentations that I do to help people learn about spiders. She's very friendly, which is a fact that most if not all of the people at the camps and presentations have learned.

However, it's much harder to convince the people that I encounter to and from these events. I never realized this, until one day when I was going to the annual Bug Camp that I have attended since I was a sophomore in high school.

It was a hot day in late June, Bug Camp was going to begin at noon. My Dad had driven my sister and me to the Camp, which is held on the same campus where I work and attend class. We'd handled check in, and were headed over to the Entomology Building, where the other campers were going to meet in a little over an hour. I had Audacia with me, and was going to store her in the building until the time when I was going to do my presentation with her.

We walked up to the front door, and sure enough, it was locked. Well, I knew that since the professor who had the other key wouldn't be finished checking in other campers for another hour, and it was really hot outside. To top it off, we were all hungry. I looked down at Audacia and knew that I needed to get her inside into an air conditioned space.

We decided to go and grab a burger at one of the local fast-food places. As hot as it was, there was no way that I was leaving Audacia in the car. So I walked in carrying her tank right under my arm. I walked to get a table in the back while my Dad and Sis ordered our food.  I sat down at a table far away from the other patrons, so that Audacia wouldn't scare anyone.

As I sat there, waiting for the food and watching Audacia take a drink from her water dish. I soon became aware of someone standing near the table. I looked up to seeing one of the waitresses staring at the tank. She started muttering curse words, and leaning in closer. She asked a few questions, which I politely answered. Then she did something that really irritated me.

She started thumping the side of the tank, right next to Audacia. I asked her to stop, but she ignored me. She was asking why the spider wasn't crawling around, and proceeded to try and make her. I told her that she was starting to irritate the large arachnid, and she got scared and ran away. I ate my meal in quiet, after that.

The rest of the restaurant was empty, until we were about to leave. I had noticed a school bus pull up outside, but hadn't really paid any attention to it. I picked up Audacia's tank and headed for the door. The door was blocked by nearly 20 cheerleaders. I was holding the tank down, not greatly obvious. I looked for a way to get through the crowd, but they were all crowded in the door.

I asked them to move, but their leader whirled around and informed me that I "needed to be quiet" because they were talking. I sighed, and held up the tank. "Excuse me," I said for the 5th time, "I need to get my large tarantula out of here." The group turned around again, and their faces changed from their previous annoyed expressions to ones of fear.

It was like the parting of the waters as the group scrambled to get away. I walked out, got in the car, and rode away, ready for the fun week of camp activities.

I've carried her into other places, and the reactions I get are mixed. Some people give me angry looks, and others actually ask questions. She's a great traveling companion, but not everyone is happy to see her. So far, I haven't gotten myself kicked out of anywhere because of her, but who knows. Someday there may be signs saying "No Tarantulas Allowed."


  1. 'No Tarantulas Allowed - Except Guide/Assistance Tarantulas' That would be a good sign to see! Thanks for a great post – I love all animals, in fact don’t tell anyone but I’m a bit of an animal geek! I hope to have my own Tarantulas someday. What species would you recommend? What has the best temperament? Thanks again!

  2. Hi Glyn. There's nothing wrong with being an animal geek. There are a lot of us out there.

    As far as tarantulas, go, I'd recommend the Chaco Golden Knee (Grammostola pulchripes) or the Desert Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes). Both are large, docile species. They're also relatively easy to get from different breeders. If there's any way I can help out, let me know. There are lots of places to research tarantulas, and my best advice is to research and know all about the spider you get before you even order it.