Random Tarantula experiences with strangers.

jc55

Arachnosquire
Active Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2014
Messages
58
I have had the pleasure of being asked by the school an ex worked at if i could bring in a few of the tarantulas i owned to show the students who were around ten years old .It was a great experience and both students and teachers asked a bunch of questions but most important was the fact that i was able to educate some people about the tarantulas and show them they are not the horrible monsters of death that some think they are and show them that even though they may fear them or true spiders that there is no reason to harm or kill them simply because they fear them.I even had one of the teachers ask about where she could purchase one as she found them to be fascinating and had thought about keeping them but had never pursued her interest before.Always a great day when you can educate others.
 

l4nsky

Aspiring Mad Genius
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
454
One place I caution every T keeper to be very careful of where you expose your hobby is your place of employment. Some people might show interest but others will form a negative view of you which may effect your job. Again this is solely dependent on what type of job you have.
I don't think its the type of job so much as the company culture, their hiring practices, and the work environment. My place of employment finds people through a temp agency and the employees are thoroughly evaluated in their first 90 days for company culture fit, attendance, and work performance before they are even eligible to be hired on as full time (which may take an additional 4 weeks to 11 months depending on the current FTE to temp ratio and work volume). I'm in management and one of the ways we make high performance teams is to establish trust by setting the example of being vulnerable. This involves sharing our personal interests and passions to make leadership both more relatable/less intimidating and to encourage other team members to share to get to know each other better. Obviously, I share my tarantula hobby. Usually the responses fall on the extreme ends of the spectrum of interest. They are usually really interested or really frightened, very few people fall in the middle. Having your associates afraid of you or believing your some kind of evil freak is never a good thing for team performance, so I usually take two steps to mitigate this. The first is I have a short "quiz" on my phone that I have people take. It involves asking if a tarantula picture has been photoshopped or if it's fake. I'll start out with a picture of a rose hair and ask real or fake? Then I'll show them a photoshopped picture of a chipmunk with eight spider legs and ask real or fake (this usually gets a few laughs). I then warn them that the next ones are going to be much harder. I'll then go through a slide show of about 15 or 20 of the most gorgeous tarantulas out there (P. met, P. sp Sabah Blue, OBT, T. seladonia, C. sp Electric Blue, O. Sp hon-sej, P. sp Solaris, P. ultramarinus, B. simoroxigorum, C. versicolor, etc) and ask them real or photoshopped for each one. Usually they only get about half of them right, as all the pictures are of real species. This tends to blow their minds as most people just think tarantulas are big, brown, and hairy. The second thing I'll do is bring in a molt (usually P. met if I know they just want to see it or P. regalis if I think they might want to touch it) for them to look at or touch if they want. You have to approach this carefully though, you DON'T want to just throw it in their face. I'll bring in a molt in a sealed, clear container and I'll keep it in my backpack. I'll then ask the associate if they have any interest in seeing it (explaining to them it's not alive and the tarantula growth cycle). If they say no, then it stays in the backpack (I haven't had someone say no yet). If they say yes, I'll take the container out UNOPENED and set it down in front of them, not hand it to them (this is important, some people have such a programmed fear of spiders and the molt being in a sealed container helps alleviate those fears just like looking at a snake at a zoo). I'll then ask if they want me to open it so they can get a closer look. If they say no, that's fine and it goes back into my backpack. I'll make a mental note of that as well so that if I am opening the container for someone else, it's not around them. If they say yes, I'll open it up and move it around for them so they can get a better look at the fangs, underleg coloration, or carapace if it has one attached. Usually if they are fine with the container being opened, they are fine with touching it as well (although it's important to ask). I'll have them pet the hairs on the underside of the body and I always get the reaction "It's sooo soft, I never would have thought that!". With this considerate approach, I've won almost everyone over and everyone from my associates to my senior leadership asks how's the collection, or how many do you have now, or did you get any new ones/do you have any pictures of it? Some people are more interested/invested then others, but no one harasses, denigrates, or looks down on me for the hobby.
 
Last edited:

Arachnophobphile

Arachnoknight
Active Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2018
Messages
182
I don't think its the type of job so much as the company culture, their hiring practices, and the work environment. My place of employment finds people through a temp agency and the employees are thoroughly evaluated in their first 90 days for company culture fit, attendance, and work performance before they are even eligible to be hired on as full time (which may take an additional 4 weeks to 11 months depending on the current FTE to temp ratio and work volume). I'm in management and one of the ways we make high performance teams is to establish trust by setting the example of being vulnerable. This involves sharing our personal interests and passions to make leadership both more relatable/less intimidating and to encourage other team members to share to get to know each other better. Obviously, I share my tarantula hobby. Usually the responses fall on the extreme ends of the spectrum of interest. They are usually really interested or really frightened, very few people fall in the middle. Having your associates afraid of you or believing your some kind of evil freak is never a good thing for team performance, so I usually take two steps to mitigate this. The first is I have a short "quiz" on my phone that I have people take. It involves asking if a tarantula picture has been photoshopped or if it's fake. I'll start out with a picture of a rose hair and ask real or fake? Then I'll show them a photoshopped picture of a chipmunk with eight spider legs and ask real or fake (this usually gets a few laughs). I then warn them that the next ones are going to be much harder. I'll then go through a slide show of about 15 or 20 of the most gorgeous tarantulas out there (P. met, P. sp Sabah Blue, OBT, T. seladonia, C. sp Electric Blue, O. Sp hon-sej, P. sp Solaris, P. ultramarinus, B. simoroxigorum, C. versicolor, etc) and ask them real or photoshopped for each one. Usually they only get about half of them right, as all the pictures are of real species. This tends to blow their minds as most people just think tarantulas are big, brown, and hairy. The second thing I'll do is bring in a molt (usually P. met if I know they just want to see it or P. regalis if I think they might want to touch it) for them to look at or touch if they want. You have to approach this carefully though, you DON'T want to just throw it in their face. I'll bring in a molt in a sealed, clear container and I'll keep it in my backpack. I'll then ask the associate if they have any interest in seeing it (explaining to them it's not alive and the tarantula growth cycle). If they say no, then it stays in the backpack (I haven't had someone say no yet). If they say yes, I'll take the container out UNOPENED and set it down in front of them, not hand it to them (this is important, some people have such a programmed fear of spiders and the molt being in a sealed container helps alleviate those fears just like looking at a snake at a zoo). I'll then ask if they want me to open it so they can get a closer look. If they say no, that's fine and it goes back into my backpack. I'll make a mental note of that as well so that if I am opening the container for someone else, it's not around them. If they say yes, I'll open it up and move it around for them so they can get a better look at the fangs, underleg coloration, or carapace if it has one attached. Usually if they are fine with the container being opened, they are fine with touching it as well (although it's important to ask). I'll have them pet the hairs on the underside of the body and I always get the reaction "It's sooo soft, I never would have thought that!". With this considerate approach, I've won almost everyone over and everyone from my associates to my senior leadership asks how's the collection, or how many do you have now, or did you get any new ones/do you have any pictures of it? Some people are more interested/invested then others, but no one harasses, denigrates, or looks down on me for the hobby.
That's a great way of approaching it and glad it worked for you.

The job I just left were completely closed off to it. That's why I said depends solely on the type of job you have and the type of employees.

The manager's daughter worked there and just right off the bat when she found out I kept tarantulas was 'I will kill it if you bring it in here'.

First and foremost I had to correct her. One, they are not that kind of pet that you take everywhere with you. The stress of it on them is too much. Second, why in the world would you ever think I would bring any of them in to work with me. Three, I would never do that to anyone who has a fear of them as that is ignorant, irresponsible and is negative to the hobby.

None of that mattered she just kept up with she will kill it.

So that place of employment would be a no go on every level.
 

kingshockey

Arachnoknight
Active Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
291
:rofl:got to stress out a few mothers showing pics of my ts to their lil kids after getting asked what i am feeding the crickets to its funny cause most assume its a lizard or frogs:shifty:and then its the if i bite you and die its poison if you bite me and i die its venom speech to the mom after she tells her kid no you cant have one they are poisonous:rofl:so then i tell the kid maybe your mom will buy you one if you get all A's on your report card hahahopefully i created some new converts and they might end up on these boards years from now but i always make sure to refer them here if they are interested in learning more about keeping a t
 

Smotzer

Arachnoking
Active Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
2,483
Not in public, but I do get DM now and then, from random Instagram users, if I want to take over their collections. Sometimes for free, sometimes way cheaper than market price.
That’s always a plus!!!
I used to do creepy crawly roadshows at schools, scouts etc and have also done a radio interview on the BBC.

I find that the children are much more fascinated than adults as the "learned" fear has yet to kick in with most of them.

The usual questions about feeding, lifespan etc always crop up. I have many tarantuka t shirts and phone covers so usually get some kind of reaction when I am out.

My user name is what all my neighbours refer to my house as. Many of the local kids will often come in and have a mooch round trying (unsuccessfully so far ha ha) to persuade their parents what a great pet a Tarantula would be.

Edit: forgot to add that when I tried to do a Tarantula education open day at work, the number of complaints and people refusing to come into the office was ridiculous. The very same people who kicked up the fuss, were the ones that would actually benefit form learning a thing or two!
Love it!! I have been thinking about doing some of these road shows!! Seems like it would be satisfying!

I was thinking about wanting to do a tarantula day at work, but I actually want to take it one step further and get a tarantula at work for the house, to continually do an appreciation group with each group of clients. I’d have to be bringing in T’s every 2weeks to a month to do that with each group of clients.

I was in a local reptile/exotics shop a few months ago and a mom brought her little girl in to see the critters. She started looking at the tarantulas, but didn't know there was a giant Pampho in a different display who had just been fed a big meal. I got to show her an 8" purple spider devouring a mass of crickets, and she got to meet someone who actually keeps spiders as pets!
That’s awesome!! 🤩
I have only had a few times where I ran into someone who shares the same interest in tarantulas and that has always been in an exotic pet store.

When I first got into tarantulas after buying my first one the excitement and awe was overwhelming. As excited as I was I made the mistake of sharing my interest with co-workers.

Switching to a new job I continued to do so as these animals are fascinating. I educated the uneducated and actually helped them to better understand them.

However behind my back they labeled me as a nut job. They knew that I cared about arachnids so one day the top manager told me there was a huge spider on the wall outside.

They had me go look at it. I told them it is harmless just a type of wolf spider. She told me she was going to kill it. I begged her to let it be it is beneficial as it is hunting the pest insects and it's harmless to humans.

She egged me on, when I wasn't around she came back in with wasp spray and said she killed it. She taunted me with the fact she killed it, which she did. I yelled at her, said that was cruel, it was outside and was beneficial. It definitely set me off.

Why this story?? I've learned to watch who I share my passion for arachnids with. Being a former severe arachnophobe I understand people's fear and reaction especially to people who keep them.

One place I caution every T keeper to be very careful of where you expose your hobby is your place of employment. Some people might show interest but others will form a negative view of you which may effect your job. Again this is solely dependent on what type of job you have.

Believe it or not the tarantula hobby has a pretty small population. I do find that people generally will listen and seem interested outside of work. Every so often you run into another T keeper but it is extremely rare unless you're at an exotic pet show.

What I find funny are all the myths out there that people still believe about tarantulas. Some of the funny ones are 'don't they shoot their hairs at you?' or 'some are so poisonous they can kill you' which with that one we instinctly start with the correction of poisonous to venomous and no one had ever died from a tarantula bite that is documented.

It is a good thing for us to share and educate people. Not so good in the workplace. It can work out but I would practice caution.

I apologize for this long post. After I posted it I went back to read it and realized I just wrote a book, sorry.
Ahhh screw them, you do you!! They weren’t worth your time if they would even do that. What other people think of you is none of your business, you gotta be yourself, and fly your own flag! Sorry to hear you had that experience!!
I'm wearing something with one on it etc. just results in a "ew" or a weird look.
Yeah I have gotten these too!!
*me on the side of a slope with a friend shifting leaves around in search of Apomastus, Aptostichus, and Aliatypus*

Pair o' Strangers:
"What are you doing?"

Me:
"Looking for spiders!"

Pair o' Strangers:
"Oh...good luck!"

Thanks,

Arthroverts
I had this experience last week taking pictures of a small Coleoptera eating a slug lol. Although the guy was like “awesome, love photos with perspective like that” as I was laying belly down to the Forest floor
Not strangers so much, but the other day I sent my team at work an email praising (high five) all the accomplishments on various projects and sent them a pic of one of my T’s giving me a high five and all I got back was ‘creepy’. It was a cute pic too. I guess if it doesn’t wag a tail, wear a collar, or piss on the carpet I should keep it to myself.
Naaaaah I think you gotta keep doing it!! And I think I gotta do this 🤪
:rofl:got to stress out a few mothers showing pics of my ts to their lil kids after getting asked what i am feeding the crickets to its funny cause most assume its a lizard or frogs:shifty:and then its the if i bite you and die its poison if you bite me and i die its venom speech to the mom after she tells her kid no you cant have one they are poisonous:rofl:so then i tell the kid maybe your mom will buy you one if you get all A's on your report card hahahopefully i created some new converts and they might end up on these boards years from now but i always make sure to refer them here if they are interested in learning more about keeping a t
Hahaha!! There ya go!! I do the same thing with anyone who is even remotely interested I try and point them to us here!!
 

Almadabes

Arachnoknight
Joined
Sep 20, 2020
Messages
156
I'm not very public about it.
Friends and family all know - just cause of the occasional Instagram pic.
Most of them think I'm weird, some of the nerdier ones are intrigued by it, my mom just worries about me. lol.

I learned early on - people are dumb.

When I got my first T, a buddy of mine said I was stupid, said spiders were stupid. asked me how a spider is a pet, why I'm putting too much energy into making their enclosure, Then told me that if he had a tarantula he would have put it in a 20 gallon and that my set up was cruel and too small.

Obviously. I was the one doing the research and he's a complete moron - but like I said. Its why I don't bother.

As for a more positive story - My Gf and I are buying a house.

As we're checking the windows, the inspector brushes some cobwebs off and my GF says "Spider Friends!"

Our realtor laughs and proceeds to tell us about a couple she once worked with that owned "a bunch of tarantulas and was looking for a home with an extra room so they can have a tarantula room."

I just kind of awkwardly raised my hand and laughed.
 

Uial

Arachnosquire
Joined
Jun 11, 2018
Messages
68
I've gotten positive and negative reactions.

My mum is my landlord, so I had to convince her first. She went from "they could kill you" to "Aww, this tiny one is cute" and "I've seen people on the internet cuddle their t, why can't I cuddle yours?"
My Bf went from "This is your creepy thing" to clamoring to feeding them every week. If it were up to him, they'd all have thunder butts^^

My friends mostly think that they are cool, which is why whenever I've invited people home (In the long forgotten past when inviting people was a thing you did) they were mostly just staring at the big spiders for the first few minutes, and whenever anyone got up and walked by them, they would kinda stop and stare. Also, the old "I want to touch them" thing comes up often, but that is a big nono around here.
Though one friend is extreme scared, and I have to hang towels over all the enclosures when he’s visiting, so he can pretend they do not exist, and he has to be drunk, so he's not so focussed on it^^

People at my work know, and this only results in that I'm now not only called to deal with English-speaking customers, I'm also called to remove spiders and other insects and put them outside. After reading some things here, that seems like a great outcome, so I'm happy. I also told people at a seminar, and they called me in the middle of the night to remove a spider from their hotel room, which is kinda overreacting, but way better than squishing it.
I mean people at work do think I'm kinda eccentric and not normal, but I have colorful hair and tattoos and piercings, so most people react with "Yeah that makes sense for you" when I tell them, though I've not had one person reacting with "Oh cool" it's all "Nope, not for me"

I also, when I introduced myself to a new class and said one of my hobbies was tarantula keeping, had another person in the class getting up and being like "Me too, I've never met another keeper in the wild." So that was nice. But their husbandry is atrocious and their reactions to prodding are "well they all still live so why would I change anything" which is not ideal, so yeah. It's a mixed bag, but nothing extremely negative happened yet, which is good.
 
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