If you have an irrational fear of spiders/tarantulas, you may want to look away now! You have been warned...
However, I happily admit to being an arachnophobe and I am quite happy as such, as my colleagues will testify after hearing my blood-curdling screams when a money spider is seen running across the desk! No amount of cajoling will get me to change my fear of spiders or even attempt to overcome it.
The strange thing is - and this my colleagues cannot understand - I just love tarantulas!
This all started when I was a wee girl of 14... my parents bought a Mexican Red Knee tarantula sub-adult female (i.e. almost, but not quite, full grown) home as a 'surprise' new pet. I still think that they had the ultimate morbid aim of curing me of my fear. However, it didn't work - to me a Tarantula is not a spider, it is an arachnid of the order Theraphosidae, completely different to 'true' spiders. A true spider has fangs that move on an axis, a Tarantula's fangs are fixed and therefore it must rear up and lunge in order to get a bite of food or your hand! I loved our Mexican Red Knee (latin name of Brachypelma Smithi) - we named her Tabatha. She was very mild-mannered and we were able to handle her as the photo to the right shows. B. Smithi's are known for their long life and females can live to 20 years and longer. Tabatha lived a good life although not quite that old.