School Tarantula?

Jijross

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jan 25, 2011
Messages
1
Hi guys. This is a complete noob question, so apologies for my ignorance!
I line manage a science faculty in an inner city school, and want to start an invertebrate club to engage some kids who in all likelihood will never have come across any of the critters I'm thinking of keeping. I'm an experienced aquarist and have kept stick insects before, so I'm pretty confident that I can keep a tarantula well.
However I have read a couple of articles on the net about eriticating (sp?) hairs and the dangers of getting these under the skin or in the eyes.
Do those who know lots more than me think this is a reason to not get a spider in school? I'm not intending that the students handle the spider, and I will take care of moving him out of the enclosure for cleaning, I just want them to observe and enjoy!
Any views / advice very much appreciated!!
 

Kathy

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
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Apr 4, 2009
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852
Hello, yes, the urticating hairs of the new world T's is not something I would be willing to risk as some people have strong reactions to them. I don't know about the UK, but in the U.S. people want to sue for everything - so I wouldn't even risk having any tarantula in a classroom. The old world tarantulas do not have urticating hairs, but then you would have to worry about the venom. I suppose if you kept the tarantula where the students could see it, but not handle it, then you would be okay. I'm sure people will come along who can give you good suggestions on which one would work best in a classroom environment.
 

Transylvania

Gondorian
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 26, 2006
Messages
593
What about an Avicularia species? The hairs don't irritate as much and they don't have strong venom. You could create a beautiful arboreal enclosure that would be nice to look at too. :)
 

AbraCadaver

Arachnoknight
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Feb 6, 2009
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As the children aren't going to handle the spider, I don't think it's going to be a problem. In my opinion the bristles are far less worrying and painfull than the bite of some of the old worlds, which doesn't have bristles. Neither are deadly, but a bite will create alot more trouble for you.

Padlock the enclosure, or keep it in a locked cupboard(like a display cabinet), and you should be safe.

A few species I would consider is an Avicularia avicularia or A.versicolor, a Grammostola Pulchra and/or a Brachyphelma smithi. These are all common, usually docile species, that are easy to take care of. The avicularias will not kick hair, as most of them can't, the G.pulchras very rarely do, and if you keep them in a display cabinet the smithis hairs wont be a problem. They can tend to kick, but take precautions and you should be fine. I expect the kiddies will have alot of "ooh" and "eew" 's if you keep some roaches as feeders as well. :)
 

ArachnidJackson

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jul 3, 2010
Messages
41
Safety first

Padlock the enclosure, or keep it in a locked cupboard(like a display cabinet), and you should be safe.

if you keep them in a display cabinet the smithis hairs wont be a problem. They can tend to kick, but take precautions and you should be fine. I expect the kiddies will have alot of "ooh" and "eew" 's if you keep some roaches as feeders as well. :)
I think with this as a guideline you should be able to keep any species without any problem at all. As far as safety for the students is concerned.
 

Venom

Arachnoprince
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Jul 21, 2002
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1,709
Urticating hairs aren't a big enough threat to not have a tarantula as a classroom pet.

To start with, there are several types of hairs, some that can be carried on the air, and some that cannot. Simply put, the kind of tarantulas most appropriate for a class pet, do not have airborne hairs. Therefore, the only way someone could get "haired" is by direct interaction with the tarantula, and you say it's cage will only be opened by you...so that eliminates the issue right there! :)

In order to get "haired" in the eyes/ face ( which is the only serious issue here), you have to put the spider in close proximity to your face ( how dumb could you get??), because the hairs do not travel far through the air, but waft down toward the ground after the initial flicking off the tarantula.

I have been haired many times on my hands and wrists, from handling my tarantulas. It is a prickling, itching sensation, and can last several days. But it's quite easy to avoid--don't handle the spider with your bare hands. Simple enough!

You might wonder about transferring spider hairs to your eyes after they get on your hands...but here there is a quirk--tarantula hairs are barbed in multiple directions, and once they contact the skin and embed ( they dig in with friction), they DO NOT come out....ever--your immune system breaks them down. Once haired, the best way to get the loose, unembedded hairs off, is to rinse your hands in running water. All the other hairs--the ones that are causing your itch, will never budge, and can't be transferred to your eyes.

If you're still concerned, there are a number of varieties that exhibit low to no-flicking. Grammostola and Eupalaestrus species are the best for this.

Tarantulas make wonderful display pets, and will surely catch your students interest and attention. Their care is --really-- rock-bottom easy, and this forum will be a great resource to you in both choosing, and caring for your tarantula.
 

gmrpnk21

Arachnobaron
Joined
Nov 1, 2010
Messages
319
Lol, you already have some great answers, and I think a rose hair or golden knee would be awesome for a classroom. I wish I had a cool teacher like that when I was younger!
 

Londoner

Arachnoangel
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Mar 21, 2008
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846
My wife teaches in a primary (elementary) school, and she's taken one of my docile B. smithis in a few times. The T remained in the cage every time and wasn't handled. My wife also brought some of our books to show the children pictures of spiderlings and the molting process and what not. The kids loved it and were fascinated to learn about tarantulas. They even made a huge display in one of the halls with all the kid's drawings of tarantulas!

My wife checked with the school authorities and the kid's parents first but apart from the odd shudder, everyone was fine about it :).
 

shanebp

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
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Dec 14, 2009
Messages
353
To echo what somebody else said, use an enclosure with lockable apses. Tarantulacages.com or Tarantulahomes.com makes great enclosures that you can easily lock with a tiny padlock. This would eliminate the possibility of anybody tampering with the tarantula.

Also, to second everyone elses suggestions, Avicularia is a great place to start, as well as Grammastola, or Brachypelma.
 

captmarga

Arachnobaron
Joined
Mar 31, 2010
Messages
340
My first tarantula was the school tarantula. The mother of the classmate who originally brought it to school said it was NOT to come home with him.

My concerns are temp and humidity maintained in the building. Obviously, for break, where the building might not have heat or cold turned on at ALL, you'd want to take it home. Here in Texas, they often don't turn on the heat at all over the weekend. Far too cold for anything unless there is a controlled-climate area.

Other than that - go for it. Fang (A. hentzi or anax) was the best T a girl could have ever gotten. I miss that spider. She was my best pal for several years. Never flicked, willingly walked into an open hand, sat on my chest while I laid down and read a book. Almost thirty years later and I still remember all the fond times with her! If having a spider in the classroom can make a lasting impression for the good on kids and adults... I'm for it.

Marga
 

BrettG

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
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Aug 19, 2009
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We have given my wife's sisters 4th grade class Avicularia.They already had a rosea and some native stuff,along with a snake and the biggest salamanders I have ever seen.Here in Mesa the public schools have a "predator" program,where they buy a "predator" and house it accordingly,and watch it grow.They always use Avicularia as well.They are a great spider for younger children,and you do not really need to worry about venom,or being tagged by a defensive spider.
 
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BioTeach

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jul 14, 2010
Messages
33
I have a B. smithi, male and female G. pulchra, and a female LP in separate locking tanks in my classroom. The tanks are also up high on a built in bookshelf in the front and 2 top corner cabinets in the back (with the doors removed) so that a student would really have to work at it to get to any of them. The kids love them and even the arachnophobes are fine with them being in the room since they are secured.
 
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