Are Spiders Good Pets
If you have ever been near a spider at all, you know that they creep us out. But if you consider yourself someone who likes the outdoors or has an affinity for cute animals, then it might seem like a great way to spend some time and maybe even some money to bring home a little friend.
It turns out that many people do exactly this, considering that black widows alone kill more than 2 million Americans each year. And with several species of spiders living across North America, Europe and beyond, the choice is yours where you want to live. Some species are venomous, but most aren't.
Nowadays, you'll find house-friendly tarantulas, wolf spiders (which resemble Tasmanian devils) and even cave spiders. So what makes these creatures so attractive to keep around our homes? For starters, they’re relatively inexpensive compared to other types of exotic pets.
They also don’t require much space since they're often kept inside glass terrariums or plastic containers. Plus, you won't have to worry about their food costs because they only consume insects. If you're on a budget, then having a pet spider may be an easy choice.
And while we’re talking about budgets, let’s talk about another thing that makes owning a pet spider appealing: They’re pretty darn cute, too. Just look at this fuzzy ball of joy. "I think that's because everyone wants to feel safe and secure," says Nicole Smith, owner of The Black Widow Society, which offers educational programs about the world of arachnids. "These spiders are harmless."
In fact, if you were to pick up a book about how to properly handle a spider, you'd see that they're actually quite docile creatures. Sure, they may scurry away from you in fear, but they're unlikely to bite you, unlike other types of pets.
Why not just eat them?
While it's true that some species of spiders will bite humans, the majority of spiders are completely harmless to human beings. In fact, they don't pose any threat to our health.
However, there are times when eating a spider isn't recommended. For example, if you come into direct contact with a poisonous spider, you could suffer severe allergic reactions or die from ingesting the poison. This doesn't happen very often, though. More commonly, you'll experience stomach pain or an upset stomach after consuming it.
Most experts agree that the safest bet is to leave a dead or dying spider alone. Even if you wanted to capture one alive, doing so would cause harm to the creature.
When capturing a spider for your own use, remember that they can escape through tiny holes and cracks within their enclosure, so you'll need to be careful when opening the lid of your container. You may also wish to wear gloves during this process to prevent injury.
Just remember that you shouldn't try to remove the spider's head, legs or abdomen because those parts contain toxins. Instead, wait until the spider dies naturally, or put them back into nature. Once they're gone, you can safely dispose of them.
They're so small!
One of the biggest draws of owning a pet spider is that they’re so small. A full grown adult female black widow ranges between 1/4 of an inch to 3 inches long, yet she still manages to maintain her intimidating size. Male spiders are slightly smaller than females.
This means that you can easily hide them under furniture and behind plants without anyone ever knowing. Another benefit: Spiders can fit into spaces that other pets can't. Unlike bigger furry friends, they can squeeze themselves in tight places and crawl through narrow tunnels.
Also, they're quiet. Sure, they emit sounds when they move around, but they're generally silent except for the occasional hissing sound when they're startled. That's perfect if you're looking for a low-key companion to cuddle up next to on rainy days.
The spider's web is its life raft. Spiders build webs to catch prey, but they also use them as shelters. Since the web provides structure and support, it keeps the spider protected against predators. The sticky threads act as a barrier between the spider and potential threats.
You can provide additional protection by building a cage made of mesh over the top of the web. That allows fresh air to circulate, preventing mold growth and providing warmth in colder climates.
It's important to note that spiders can become aggressive when trapped in their webs, so it's best to leave them alone when they’re working on their “homes.”Once the spider is ready to rest, you can gently lower them onto a piece of string or yarn secured to the ground. Then, tie off the end so that they don't run away.
How to Take Care of a Spider in Captivity
Even though they have such interesting habits, spiders are still delicate creatures that need proper care. Here's what you need to know about caring for them in captivity.
First, you'll need to choose the right type of spider. Each type of spider needs different things like temperature, humidity, lighting and diet. For instance, tarantula spiders need warmer temperatures and lots of hiding spots, while wolf spiders prefer cooler environments.
Next, decide whether you're interested in putting the spider outside or letting it stay indoors. While both options have their pros and cons, it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Then, you'll need to select a suitable location for the enclosure. Remember that spiders only get a certain amount of sunlight per day, so choosing a spot that receives plenty of light is essential. Also, ensure that the area is large enough to accommodate the spider. Most spiders grow to be 3 inches long, so make sure the enclosure is big enough for that size.
To avoid future mishaps, you can buy an aquarium pump to increase the water circulation. Your goal is to create a habitat that mimics the natural conditions found outdoors.
Finally, you’ll need to purchase the correct equipment. Although spiders are typically housed in glass terrariums or plastic containers, you may choose to go a step further and get a vivarium. These larger enclosures allow you to control the temperature and humidity levels inside the enclosure. To make sure your spider feels comfortable, you can adjust the settings according to its preferred environment.
As far as feeding goes, spiders feed on various kinds of bugs including flies, beetles, moths, mosquitoes and aphids. However, you'll probably only need to give them a single meal every week to satisfy their nutritional requirements.
What happens when the spider gets loose?
Many homeowners assume that once a spider is caught in its web, it can never escape. Not true. Spiders can climb walls and ceilings using silk fibers. They can also shed their skin from anywhere, including the ceiling. When that happens, they'll drop to the floor, dig into the soil and regurgitate their old skin.
Since they usually hang upside down, spiders are able to walk along the ceiling of their enclosure. After shedding their skin, they'll begin climbing back up.
That said, you shouldn't expect them to escape from their enclosure. You'll need to monitor them closely, especially when they're carrying eggs or young spiders.
So, are they dangerous?
Despite being relatively small, spiders pack a powerful punch. Their fangs are capable of delivering strong bites, resulting in serious injuries. Black widows are perhaps the most well known among spiders due to their dark colors and tendency to weave large, deadly nets that ensnare victims. Other popular species include brown recluse, black garden spider and yellow sac spider.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 5 percent of U.S. households have at least one member who was bitten by a black widow in the past 12 months. Unfortunately, these numbers are likely higher in states like Florida, Texas and South Carolina.
Although black widows inflict painful bites, they rarely cause death unless multiple bites occur. Still, it's wise to seek medical attention immediately if you believe that you've been bitten by one. Other types of spiders, however, are more dangerous. Brown recluses and tiger spiders produce neurotoxins that can result in paralysis, tissue damage and sometimes death.
Tarantula bites can lead to serious infections. Yellow sac spiders' venom causes nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, while funnel-web spiders carry tetrodotoxin that results in dizziness, breathing difficulties and convulsions.