Rosie May Not be Your Dream Pet…

…Nor am I expecting lots of likes for her!

But I recently learned she’s actually not as harmful as many suspect, and quite a few people even keep her species as pets.

Rosie is, as you doubtless have guessed, a Tarantula.

But before we go any further, we need to clear up a lot of confusion about the word “Tarantula.” Scientifically speaking, the term is kind of, um, hairy.

Most of us understand Tarantula to mean “a big, hairy spider”—but this term constitutes a taxonomic “infra-order.” This simply means that most, but not all “big, hairy arachnids” come from the same scientific family.

About 900 different Tarantula species, including Rosie here, come from the family Theraphosidae, but some don’t.

And now we can finally get to our point, which is that some but not all species of Tarantula are actually quite harmless.

Here’s how her handler explained it to me. If Rosie knows you, and if you know how to handle her, she’ll do you no more harm than your pet dog or cat.

If, however, Rosie feels threatened, her hairs will emit an inflammatory substance which can feel very unpleasant and needs to be kept away from your eyes. The same could be said of a cat scratch—which most of us cat-lovers don’t love, but willingly endure for love of our cats!

Having said all this, I can assure you that I didn’t offer to handle Rosie. I did bring my camera fairly close, but was careful to keep it between me and her!

Nice to have made your acquaintance, Rosie. Call me a wimp, but I’m happy to remain an acquaintance.

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