Aug 17, 2007

Spidery Admonition

The ornate golden baboon spider has been in the news lately. It seems that a bloke in Suffolk County, NY, got tired of having this spider as a pet and did the right thing and turned it in to the local chapter of the SPCA.

Now, folks, let this be an admonition to all would-be pet owners. If you think that maybe, just maybe, having a hyper-aggressive, poisonous, 5" spider might not be the best pet for you, then don't buy one. Err on the side of safety if you must. The same goes for fuzzy kittens and fad-sized puppies. But I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

UPDATE: according to one of our resident spider experts, the spider below is a togo starburst baboon, not an ornate golden baboon. Shame on you, Associated Press, if you fed me a bad photo!

Photo source: Miami University Tropical Ecosystems


Jade said...

The spider in the picture is a togo starburst baboon (Heteroscrodra maculata), and always white and black.

The spider he turned over is an Usumbara orange starburst baboon (Pterinochilus murinus). Totally different species.

Also, I assumed you linked the same article I read on Fark. It says they get 8" for females and the males are larger. Sorry to disappoint, but they max out around 4" for both sexes.

For the record, I have one right now and have had several. They have one of the worst tempers of any spider I've worked with. I can see why he got rid of it, but not why he would have bought it to begin with!! ;)

Stargazer said...

hm it's not so ugly...kind of beautiful, nice colour!

Anonymous said...

This didn't happen in the UK, but in Suffolk County, NY, on Long Island. Here's the article
Rocky Point resident surrenders pet tarantula
BY SUSANA ENRIQUEZ August 18, 2007

Whether in its silken retreat among African scrub brush or a plastic container in a Rocky Point home, the Golden Baboon is one mean tarantula.

So much so that its owner couldn't bring himself to keep his hairy pet and called Suffolk animal-rescue officials to whisk the spider away.

On Sunday, the Emergency Animal Response Team from the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took the 5-inch-long Golden Baboon from the home - the organization's first-ever spider rescue - and sent it to a Massachusetts animal sanctuary.

Not one of the rescuers dared to open the container, lest the orange arachnid get loose or bite them with its half-inch fangs.

"These do not make good pets," SPCA Chief Roy Gross said Friday. "They are very aggressive."

Gross said the owner, who asked officials not to identify him, probably was having trouble feeding the spider and cleaning its cage. Gross said he didn't know how the man got the tarantula or how long he had owned it. The spider was believed to be a female, he said.

Golden Baboons, also known as Starburst Baboons, can move very quickly, are unpredictable and are more likely to bite than other tarantulas, said Eric Denemark, 20, an entomology major at Cornell University who breeds tarantulas in the school's program and also sells them wholesale to online retailers.

"It's just a nasty spider," said Denemark, who currently has two of the species among his collection of about 200 spiders, but has had as many as 123 Golden Baboons at one time. "It's perfectly natural to keep tarantulas, but I think this one was a little out of his league."

Because the spiders breed easily, they are readily found in pet stores and for sale online.

The species, native to the deserts of western Africa, thrives in a hot, dry climate. The tarantulas live in the base of scrub brush, where they spin themselves a retreat of silk. Any bugs the size of crickets and cockroaches that enter the retreat become prey.

Females, which are known to eat the males, live about five times longer than them - about 10-15 years. The spider's venom is not poisonous but its bite is painful, like being hit with a hammer, Denemark said.

Gross would not identify the Massachusetts sanctuary that is the tarantula's new home, saying he wants to protect the sanctuary's owner from people who may try to retrieve confiscated pets.

Having a tarantula as a pet is not illegal. But Gross, for one, was stumped that anyone would want one.

"There are so many unwanted dogs and cats that would make good pets," Gross said. "What kind of love can you get from a spider?"

Kritter said...

He probably wanted one because they're so beautiful!--I checked out a few "web"sites (no pun intended) and the bright orange variation is gorgeous! But it looks like it could put some serious hurt on a person.

K. Lindeman said...

I bet the poor thing is so stressed by this point!!

It's true- Golden Baboons are extremely agro, but tarantulas, on the whole, are awesome creatures. Definitely my fave!!

Jack Ruttan said...

He is a nice-looking guy. I want to put some neon on him, to make a truly 80s disco-rave spider.

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