Now I hear what you are thinking…. where will you find a collar small enough for your pet spider? lol. Spiders are not pets of the cuddly companion kind, they are hobby animals whose behaviour can be fun to observe. They require very little care, are often fascinating to watch. They don’t bark all night, don’t make a lot of mess and are extremely quiet so they can be kept in a bedroom with little disturbance of the inhabitants. They need no walking, little attention or socialisation – in fact, they do best when left to their own devices. Granted, don’t expect a cuddle from a spider, or a lick on the face at the end of the day.. A spider will not keep your lap warm, even a very large one. But as hobby animals to be kept as a pet for the purpose of simply observing the behaviour, spiders can be great pets.
Spider behaviour such as making webs, hunting (Editor – as I write this I am travelling Australia in a caravan and my kids have had to leave their pets at home which has been heartbreaking for them. I have granted them permission to have a bug catcher, and catch a “pet” for a day. Presently “lumpy” the fat window corner spider, has pounced greedily on a fly that has been dropped into the bug catcher that has been her home for the last 24 hours and is proceeding to drag it buzzing into the safety of the corner of her web. Well, it’s safe for Lumpy in any case. The kids, are most impressed with her bravery the fly was a March fly almost half her size again.), even breeding can be observed all from the safety of a suitable enclosure. Most spiders are not sufficiently venomous to be dangerous to humans…. and in most cases, it’s best not to seek out these types.
Where to get a spider from?
Many pet shops stock non or low venom spiders such as tarantulas that can be handled. These spiders will not bite unless squeezed so in some cases they can be handled if you wish to impress your friends by letting one crawl on your shoulder..(Editor’s note. SOME can be venomous – don’t just take my word for it and start picking up the next tarantula you see).
With a little care, almost any garden spider can be made into a pet, there are 4 types of garden spiders you might consider.
1. Orb Weavers. Orb weavers make great pets. Many will build their web daily which in itself can be a treat to watch. Most are only lightly venomous and in the event of a bite, it will be no worse than a bee sting. the downside of orb weavers is they need a lot of room to make their web, larger ones sometimes needing an area of 3-4 meters( 9-12) feet so such “pets” often do better left in the garden.
2. Corner Webspinners. These include daddy long legs, and many species of fat brown spider…. but also black widows, redbacks and other dangerously venomous spiders. The former of this group are ideal to be kept as pets. They are happy with a small space to build a web, they will hunt and hunt, so will catch as many flies as you can supply them. They usually don’t rebuild their webs every day. A small fish tank is an ideal size for such spiders, but even a medium-sized Tupperware container would be fine. The latter(the venomous spiders) should be avoided as pets unless you are an experienced spider keeper and have a backup plan in case your spider escapes due to a broken enclosure or some other misadventure.
3. Roaming Spiders – these include huntsman, wolf spiders, tarantulas( in Australia, the baby bird-eating spider is the most commonly available)- all lightly venomous but non deadly spiders, as well as mouse spiders, funnel webs, white-tailed spiders and Brazilian walking spiders…. which are very venomous and should be avoided as pets. Roaming spiders can be wonderful pets – they build no webs but instead will roam their enclosure looking for insects to hunts. They are all fairly large spiders, so a successful hunt usually ends in a spectacular and very visible fashion. Be very very careful collecting such spiders from the garden, however, and even more careful keeping them.
4. Jumping Spiders – I love these spiders, they are very active and alert, and very fun to keep. Rather than sitting motionless in a web they will prowl their enclosure like a roaming spider, however instead of walking around they can jump, often many tens of times their own length. Their vision is excellent compared with other spiders that rely on webs for their prey, so watching them stalk and catch prey is fascinating. These spiders are mostly small 5mm to 18mm long and though venomous is not dangerous to humans so keeping them is low risk.
Spiders are not for everyone, but for some, they make for a fascinating hobby pet. They are not a life commitment like other pets and require little care.
Consider a spider, for a low maintenance, at times high excitement pet.