By Dew Adams - Eagle Staff Writer
When I say “Pink Toed Tarantula” what do you imagine? Maybe something like that one scene from "Home Alone"? Maybe that one giant spider from the Harry Potter books? Whatever comes to mind, it's valid. Spiders are often seen as something that should be feared. From the black widow to the brown recluse we are told from a young age to fear and avoid these eight legged bundles of death. Sometimes even being associated with spiders is enough to doom a creature to mistreatment, like the innocent daddy longlegs for example. This Creature Feature intends to dull that fear a bit and show the friendlier side of our eight-legged friends. However, a warning is still important: we will be showing pictures of spiders beyond this point so arachnophobes beware.
The pink toed tarantula is a South American wonder, sometimes called the Guyana pink toe, or South American pink toe. They can grow to around 6 inches and eat almost anything smaller than themselves, from roaches to crickets to even small lizards. They are popular in the pet trade due to their more docile nature, being less of the “scurry over and bite you and your family” type of spider and more of the “I am gonna chill in this corner, okay?” type. Their venom isn’t very harmful to humans, only causing minor pain in the area of the bite. They can also flick their hairs at aggressors which does cause mild itching. However these spiders prefer to run and hide from threats, once again showing off that popular docile nature.
My pet pink toed tarantula, Whumpus, has been the (mostly willing) model seen in this article showing off her most defining feature, the pinkish orange tips of her legs. They look like a ballerina’s shoe or maybe some kind of socks. Taking a closer look you can see a little separation on the end of each limb like a toe, similar to a cat’s paw. Just like a cat, they have little pads on the bottom of each foot which allow them to both climb and stick to surfaces, but also just look very cute. They are also very soft.
I find these spiders are brimming with personality, Whumpus being a rather sassy individual whose hobbies consist of napping and judging people. Her favorite activities besides those consist of finding ways to make her care difficult, listening to music with me, and web design. When I first got her during the Christmas season my mom insisted she would, “never go near that thing," being rather afraid of her and choosing to leave the room whenever I opened the door to her tank to mist. So, how is she with her now? Well part of Mom's bedtime routine is to open the door of the tank and talk to Whumpus, asking her how her day was and giving her one final mist for the night, then wishing Whumpus goodnight before heading to bed herself. I have to say their relationship has greatly improved.
Whumpus, of course, follows the general parameters for her species. Being docile however doesn't mean she is nice. She is in fact, quite the opposite. Part of her daily care is a mist down of her enclosure anytime the humidity in there drops below 70. This is because in the wild these spiders live in a very humid environment. They also will sometimes drink from the water droplets in their tank. However one of her habits is standing right in the way of the mist bottle. Now dear readers, I would never soak her on purpose and in fact I go out of my way to avoid getting water on her. However Whumpus's response is the equivalent of seeing oncoming traffic, jumping into it, then complaining about getting hurt. So, how does Whumpus deal with this issue? Does she move out of the way? Does she get a better early morning resting spot? No, of course not. She wasn’t the problem; we were (according to her at least). She quickly figured out my mom won’t open the tank door if she is on it so that quickly became part of her routine - to stand right on the door. Of course after a while we just started misting from the top of the tank instead, which she hates more, so she went back to just tolerating us misting her tank. How dare we supply her with water, after all.
If you plan on getting your own Whumpus please do remember, these are individuals. Some will be more active and others will choose to sit in one place all day. If you plan on getting an eight-legged friend do plenty of research beforehand. Find one that best fits your lifestyle or your wants and needs. Getting a spider is the same as getting any other pet: they need love and care. But be prepared to have to put up with some spider shenanigans.