Who's afraid of Tarantulas?

bness2

Arachnoknight
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Hello everyone,

I am new to this site and thought I would introduce a question.

First, a little background. I am fairly new to keeping tarantulas. I teach biology at a small 4-year college and I have never been especially fond of spiders (I'm actually a botanist by training). I decided, as a professor of biology I should get over my, fortunately mild, fear. To do that, I bought a rosie about 6-7 months ago and was able to hold her after working up the nerve to do so for about a week. Unfortunately, I let a student hold her one day, and he got spooked and dropped her, which was her demise :( The student felt so bad he bought me another one, this time a male, and he only lived for about 4 months. He was already mature, so I assume he died of old age. He was very healthy and then stopped eating and gradually faded away. Just got a new one yesterday, making sure it was a female. I want to have her a bit longer, and I now require my students to sit on the floor if they want to hold a tarantula.

Anyway, my question . . . What percentage of people do you find are afraid of trantulas? Is there a difference in the way that men and women react to them?

In my case, I have had many more of my female students willing to hold a tarantula than my male students. I don't know if this holds true elsewhere, because I may have a skewed sample. We have almost 2X the number of women as men.

Of course, I also find many students who fear snakes (some of them have no problem with spiders) and I often bring in a large millipede into lab and many students are afraid of them too. I try to tell them there is nothing to fear, but the irrational side usually wins out. By the way, I can't count the times that students are surprised when I tell them that tarantulas are not deadly poisonous. :? Seems that that myth has spread far and wide.

Thanks for letting me ramble and hope to hear from some of you.

Bryan
 
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x101

Arachnopeon
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I have come to find that many many many people are very irrationally fearful of spiders for some reason. I don't know how they got their reputation. My roomate unfortunately is one of those people who is very afraid of spiders. He keeps telling me how if my littl e1 inch sling ever got out he would squish it lol.
 

Code Monkey

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I don't really think it's possible to generalise as it is such an irrational fear. Spiders and Snakes compete for the number one animal phobia even though the animals most likely to kill or otherwise seriously harm a human are dogs and cats (cats have some of the *foulest* infection potential of any animal out there when they bite :eek: ) I was lucky all through college that the worst any room mate ever displayed was disinterest, but then I lived with a bunch of pretty free thinking people.

I've seen (non-invert type) girls who would handle a scorpion and burly men who would run from a house spider. In short, I guess it's people who let their reptile brain do their thinking for them, and those people come in all shapes, sizes, professions, etc.
 

Botar

Arachnoprince
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Well put CM, as always. Welcome aboard bness2. Sorry to hear about your misfortune with you first T. Good luck with the new one.

Botar
 

Immortal_sin

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well, I would have to concur with my experience with children. I take tarantulas to my daughter's class a few times during the year. (she just started 2nd grade). I've also found the boys to be a bit more leery, and also more likely to jump around :D
The girls are calmer, and take direction better.
I know that is completely unscientific though!
At the ATS conference, I noticed the same thing. Families with children would come in and look at the tables filled with Ts for sale. My daughter usually walked around with a juvenile A hentzi on her shoulder. (I ended up having to buy it at the end of the conference!). The boys again were jumpier around the Ts, didn't take direction as well (don't blow on it, don't jerk your hand around...etc), and more scared to get close in general.
Although there was a small girl that wanted to hold one, and it startled her. The poor little T went flying, onto the linoleum..but it actually survived..believe it or not..
Ok...I'm done rambling!
Welcome to the forum!
 

SkyeSpider

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Unfortunately, being the computer nerd I am, I only know a handful of people. Of the three I'm closest to, all have been dealthy afraid of spiders since I met them.

My wife is one. About a year ago, she got past the repulsion from them and was able to admire them as beautiful. Recently, I got her to hold her first spider: a baby pinktoe. Today, she held my full grown female curlyhair! What progress :) She's still a bit iffy, but I know she isn't afraid of them anymore; just hessitant.

My best friend, Tyler, is another. He made fast progress about a month ago. He asked to hold my curlyhair. Since then, he's held most of my tarantulas and thinks they're absolutely awesome ;)

My other friend, Evan is another story. He doesn't like ANY animal. He's actually afraid of all of them. That said, he likes the colors of a few that I have.

As far as I've seen, fear of spiders isn't always pure fear. It seems to just be an aprehension, as we're not forced to deal with them day to day, like other creatures. With more exposure to these delicate animals, the aprehension seems to wane quite a bit :)

-Bryan
 

JacenBeers

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I find the most people are very afraid of them yet quite fascinated. My sister would never hold one yet she thinks it is amazing how my pinktoe will devour ten crickets at a time and wrap them all up on the side of the tank by spinning in circles. She can watch them for hours but would never ever hold one.
 

kosh

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jacenbeers......yeah thats me.....im afraid of spiders but, i am also fascinated by them at the same time.....thats why i got a T .....they are fascinating and also maybe it will help me to not be so afraid of spiders........
 

galeogirl

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Most of my friends are interested in (or indifferent to) my spiders. There are only one or two that are actually arachnophobic....and they're starting to be swayed to The Dark Side by my babies. They at least will acknowledge that my animals are beautiful and seem to like watching them feed.

I don't have the numbers, but I would imagine that they are pretty similar between men and women for arachnophobia.
 

ArachnoJoost

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I once brought my rosie to the class I was teaching biology last year (about 25 kids, aged 12-13). After explaining about tarantula's I gave them the chance to let her walk over their hands (I let them hold their hands on the desk so there would be no chance of falling). To my surprise, at the end there were only two kids too afraid of holding her (those two were boys btw). They loved it!
Another class was peeking through the windows when I did this, so I let them in and gave them the chance, although they were more reluctant to hold her (Didn't teach them, so I think they did not trust me as much as my own class...:D ).
The people most afraid of the spider were the other teachers! The children were more fascinated then afraid.
greetz,
Joost
 

Valael

Arachnodemon
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Originally posted by Code Monkey
I don't really think it's possible to generalise as it is such an irrational fear. Spiders and Snakes compete for the number one animal phobia even though the animals most likely to kill or otherwise seriously harm a human are dogs and cats (cats have some of the *foulest* infection potential of any animal out there when they bite :eek: ) I was lucky all through college that the worst any room mate ever displayed was disinterest, but then I lived with a bunch of pretty free thinking people.

I've seen (non-invert type) girls who would handle a scorpion and burly men who would run from a house spider. In short, I guess it's people who let their reptile brain do their thinking for them, and those people come in all shapes, sizes, professions, etc.

Yeah, I find it kinda funny that people won't believe me when I say dogs kill more people than any other pet out there.


And cats.. I watched a vet show where this lady tried to save her cat (It had got impaled on a stick) but it bit her multiple times. Her hand started to turn black and stop working as though it was bitten by a venomous snake. She had to have sugery multiple times because of it.

Hell, I'll take a fierce snake (taipan and a black mamba before I willing keep a cat or dog.


(And this is coming from osmeone forced to live with three dogs and two cats.)
 

skinheaddave

SkorpionSkin
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I don't know about you guys, but what really get me are those that refuse to let go of the concept that their fear is irrational. I completely understand that people are afraid of my animals. I don't even care that much if I can't convince them over time to let go of their fears. There is a huge difference, however, between realizing that you are phobic and refusing to be taught that it is a phobia and not a completely rational fear.

Not that everything in my basement is so benign, of course, but that is another story. ;)

Cheers,
Dave
 

bness2

Arachnoknight
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Originally posted by ArachnoJoost
I once brought my rosie to the class I was teaching biology last year (about 25 kids, aged 12-13). After explaining about tarantula's I gave them the chance to let her walk over their hands (I let them hold their hands on the desk so there would be no chance of falling). To my surprise, at the end there were only two kids too afraid of holding her (those two were boys btw). They loved it!
Ah, another teacher. Isn't it fun to work with students? I actually find that younger students are less afraid than my college students. I sometimes wonder whether the college guys are more sfraid of how they might react to holding a T than than of the T itself. I mean it would be quite a blow for a macho guy to freak out when the tarantula crawls across his hand.

It has also been my experience that parents and teachers are the ones who have the greatest influence in this area. If a kid has a parent who fears spiders, more likely than not the kid will too.

Bryan
 

bness2

Arachnoknight
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Originally posted by Code Monkey
I don't really think it's possible to generalise as it is such an irrational fear. Spiders and Snakes compete for the number one animal phobia even though the animals most likely to kill or otherwise seriously harm a human are dogs and cats (cats have some of the *foulest* infection potential of any animal out there when they bite :eek: )
I am a cat lover and we have two of them. fortunately neither of them is a biter, but I do know about cat bites. They can be very nasty and often set up a "healthy" infection :(

I have found that a number of people claim their fear of spiders is because they are afraid to get bitten. I used to say the same myself, but as a biologist I know that the only spiders around my area I need to fear are black widows and brown recluses. I could pick up any other spider and if I got bitten it would be no worse than a bee sting. When I tell my students that tarantulas are not deadly poisonous, like they seem to think, some of them get over the fear rather easily.

On the other hand, fear of being bitten may just be a facade for fear of multi-legged creepy crawlies, in which case the cure takes longer. Seeing me handly my rosie often alleviates the fears of many students, although it can take a little longer to feel comfortable.

Bryan
 

Arachnopuppy

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The myth of deadly poisonous tarantulas probably originated from the way explorers in the old old old days classified the level of poison an insect had, which was by size. The scientific community got over that impractical method of judging an animal a long time ago, but it remained quite popular among regular people who are not very interested in spiders. The myth was also reinforced by the news of banana spiders, which have been responsible for quite a few deaths in South America.

I have introduced my tarantulas to most of my friends here in college and boldly brought them to work, which was in the hospital, to show my friends there. I have found that girls, although showed more fear than guys when first seeing the humongous spiders, tend to have more courage to hold the tarantulas than the guys. I actually have a theory on it. My theory is that girls, like their tolerance to more pain the guys, also have more courage than guys overall. However, they subconsciously act like they are more afraid of things than guys because society expects girls to be weaker emotionally and mentally.
 

The_Phantom

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Helll no. I aint afraida no tarantula!

I used to be TERRIFIED of spiders when I was a little kid, found one in the bathroom sink,...screeeeamed. Found one in my bed,....screeeeeeamed...finally Im fourteen and not afraid of spiders, and I squish them easily. Then at age 17, I learn that my best friends brother has a tarantula, so to finally over come my fear 100% I ask him if I can hold him, which I do. That was my first encounter w/a T and yes, I was a little scared, but it was sooooo thrilling...and when he got married, he gave me the T (his sissy wife,...)and I had nine glorious months with him till he passed on....a old mature male....the most tamest T u could hope for !! Lets all have a moment of silence for Harrison. Hey shh! Now Im 23, and Im getting that itch again,...I have the urge to increase my T population, which is at 2. :D
 

Tranz

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I've always been scared of spiders. I think this fear is innate in humans. It springs from a shared "subconscious memory". I think that some people are more in tune with this fear than others, and it is something that can be diminished with experience. It's a fear of something that is predatory and non-mammalian, which seems alien and evil.

A phobia is something different, but is based on the fear we all have. I've had a 1 1/4" G. Pulchra spiderling for 12 days and have been trying to get the courage to take it out and let it crawl on my hands. I tried yesterday, but just couldn't do it. I could not open the lid to the critter keeper - I bumped the container slightly and the spider moved, and a slight jolt of fear ran through me. Rather than looking like a harmless baby, it looks to me more like a big wood spider. If it were gigantic and sluggish it might actually be easier to approach, but it can move fast, and reminds me too much of the spiders I've always kept a healthy distance from.

The worst part is the unpredictability - not knowing what might happen. Also, perhaps a factor in my fear is that the spiderling was advertised as 3/4 ", but arrived as 1 1/4". It doesn't look anything at all like the wispy picture of a sling on a green leaf. I happened upon a 1 " Chilobrachys huahini (Giant Asian Fawn) sling Arachnocenter also sells, and its picture seems to look more like mine than their picture of the G. Pulchra. It doesn't, really, but in the back of my mind there is the possibility that they sent me the wrong spider. I e-mailed them with my bizarre worry, and they didn't respond back. So, when I think of getting out my sling, there is a concern in the back of my mind that this is really a nasty spider.
 

Code Monkey

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Originally posted by Tranz
Also, perhaps a factor in my fear is that the spiderling was advertised as 3/4 ", but arrived as 1 1/4". It doesn't look anything at all like the wispy picture of a sling on a green leaf. I happened upon a 1 " Chilobrachys huahini (Giant Asian Fawn) sling Arachnocenter also sells, and its picture seems to look more like mine than their picture of the G. Pulchra. It doesn't, really, but in the back of my mind there is the possibility that they sent me the wrong spider. I e-mailed them with my bizarre worry, and they didn't respond back. So, when I think of getting out my sling, there is a concern in the back of my mind that this is really a nasty spider.
The logical explanation, of course, is that it has moulted recently. Paul's had this lot of G. pulchra in stock since June if memory serves. He hasn't updated the picture or description so if it moulted any time in between, you get a bigger spider for the price of a smaller sling - that's a good thing ;)

While I think there's something to innate fear of things "non-mammalian and alien", I don't think it's a question of being in tune. It's a question of how much you let that remnant of brain that neither had fur, nor probably even warm blood, overrule the rest of your mind. I've never been afraid of spiders or bugs or snakes or much of anything else. In fact, about the only thing that really gives me the willies is big fish. Somewhere in my head I've got this hangup that if its body plan looks like it ought to be able to be in a fish tank, it had damn well better be small enough to be in a fish tank. Put me in the water with a 8 foot grouper and watch me do my Jesus imitation :D

Heck, I'd rather be swimming with a great white than a school of tuna. One fear would be based on logical respect, the other, sheer stupid willy-brain.
 

kosh

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i dont understand why cats get such a bad rap!!:confused: :confused: .......personally i LOVE cats....they seem so much more intelligent than dogs and they seem to have much more personality and individuality....there is a sort of thrill having a pet so closely related to the "big cats"....you can almost see it in them...that they are just a step or two away from being this wild and dangerous predator...and yet they are so sweet and cuddly and affectionate.....i do know that their bites can be pretty nasty though....personally i currently own 6 cats...3 inside and 3 outside...and all but 2 were strays i rescued and gave a home (strays seem to make the best pets IMO)...and i can't say that if i come across any more pitful strays that i won't bring them home as well........by the way.....did you guys know that cats (felis domesticus) are the only other animals on earth that kill for sport!!!
as far as spiders....YIKES!!!...i hate 'em and i'm scared of them...i even try to get someone else to squish them for me....there is something about the T's that doesn't seem quite as scary as a wolf spider, jumping spiders (family salticidae), or large garden spider (argiope aurantia)...and i would surely let a T crawl on my hand before any of the others listed above except maybe the occasional jumping spider...i like the jumping spiders' attitude and friendliness...i like the way they follow you with their big eyes and will readily jump on your finger!!!...i think the jumping spider is the only spider i know FOR SURE i have ever been bitten by (i saw him/her do it)...it wasn't any worse than a very small bee sting and nowhere near as bad a the sting of a yellow jacket...
 

Wade

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I've often thought that people are repulsed by animals that have more limbs (insects, spiders, myriapods) or fewer limbs (snakes, worms) than we do. The exception is animals in the water. People are generally not repulsed by fish, lobsters, crabs or shrimp. Do you think shrimp would be as popular a food as they are if they lived under your refrigerator instead of the ocean? ;)

Wade
 
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