For my 27th birthday, I was given a rather unique gift, from someone I only knew as she served my coffee nightly when we (me and the boys) snuck out for a second break at 4am from the brewery. Some nights we'd hang around and talk with this girl, not much else for us all to do at this time of night (oh, I guess we could have been working). I only knew her by first name and I guess she knew more about me than Rob takes a medium double double.
I was quite shocked to get a gift from this girl... especially a tarantula and a 10 gallon terrarium to boot with a locking lid!
She didn't tell me much about this tarantula other than it's species name being an "Indonesian Red Legged Bird Eating Tarantula". I probably should have given it right back to her at that time just by the name alone. I was younger, probably intoxicated (working at a brewery... that's how we rolled back then, worked and drank)... and I ended up taking this critter home.
I knew very little about this species but learned very quickly how aggressive this spider was. It had a little hut that it liked to stay in, a nice dark hide out from where it could pounce on it's prey. I would open the lid to feed it and it devoured cricket after cricket in a speedy manor. If I put my hand in the tank to do a little cleaning, watering, whatever... this spider would charge at my moving hand.
I began to fear this spider. I gave it a name from the best King Diamond cd ever... "Abigail" which is a story (concept album) about an evil spirit of a girl. Now, I didn't honestly think my Abigail was an evil spirit... just a very aggressive spider. I respected this spider but as I said, I also feared it. I continued to care for it though.
I had to look further into this species since I still knew so little. Does it really eat birds? Yes, it does! It will sit up in trees and wait on branches for a bird to land and kill/eat it. So, if it can attack and kill songbirds, how big will this thing get I wondered. Well, as luck would have it, this book told me all about that too! This spider, as a full size adult, can easily sit over a dinner plate (that is how they put it in the book)... it's diameter can reach 13 inches or more!
Apparently this tarantula was 3 months old when I got it and it was nearing 5 inches already.
I wondered about the girl who gave me this present. Did she want me dead? Did she want to impress me? I learned she was a unique individual who also worked in a pet store, loved all animals and bred Himalayan kittens at home. Where did she get this spider? Seems the pet stores have contacts to many things out there besides dogs, cats, birds and fish.
So, with all I was learning about this tarantula, I wasn't happy. I promised I would still take care of it until I figure out in my head what to do with it. Donate it to a zoo or somehow manage to co-exist?
I continued to feed it lots and lots of crickets. It was eating 40 large ones a week. Could I keep up with this appetite? As it got bigger, I was certain that one day crickets just weren't going to cut it anymore. I know you can purchase frozen rats and things like that from pet stores, which is something I have no interest in. I know some people with snakes and this is what they feed them. The problem is, other than it's so not me to start buying and keeping frozen rats in the freezer... tarantulas only eat live food, they are attracted to movement... so a dead and frozen something just won't cut it. I was not ready to start buying live feeder mice. I know that is part of nature but that don't mean I have to partake in it.
About 3 months in with this spider, I woke up one day to find it dead in it's hut. Another mystery as to why, but as I sit here years later, I wonder if it was due to malnutrition? Abigail never looked unhealthy but perhaps she was lacking that something in her diet... blood?
I hate to admit but I was more relieved than anything over the passing of this tarantula. I took care of this spider to the best of my ability. I never had luck on pawning it off to another responsible person or place to care for it so I did what I could for it... unfortunately it may not have been enough.
To whom may be reading this blog... I ask you to not grow more fearful of arachnids after this tale. Everything has it's place on this planet whether we see it as good or bad.