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A Look Inside the Tarantula Black Market

A Look Inside the Tarantula Black Market

You wouldn’t think that tarantulas are a particularly valuable commodity, considering the fear they induce in most people due to their frightening appearance.  Why would anyone pay much money for an ugly, hairy spider? Who would want to actually keep one for fun as a pet? Well, you are in for a surprise because the illegal market for tarantulas is booming, and illegal activity involving tarantulas is only increasing over time. There are many people that are fascinated by these creatures and can’t get enough of them; and they are willing to pay insane amounts of money to add more to their collection.

The illegal tarantula trade may be a little known section of the black market, but it is rampant, and with people becoming more and more interested in exotic animals, it is steadily increasing. The expanding number of people traveling to places that have exotic tarantulas, the rising awareness of these creatures people have gained through social media, as well as the growing commercial interest in these and other exotic animals are fueling the illegal trade of tarantulas. Many scientists have reported a great deal of illegal activity in relation to tarantulas, and most believe it is fueled mostly by people that make a hobby out of collecting these exotic pets and are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for just one of these spiders.

The demand for tarantulas is growing rapidly, and traders are having to find ways to meet that growing demand. Traders are now having to hire locals to hunt down tarantulas in the wild. The captured spiders are then smuggled out and sold to collectors and breeders searching for the newest, most distinctive and exotic tarantulas on the black market. While some become pets, others are killed and mounted on display in a box or enveloped in resin. What makes tarantula poaching especially cruel is that these spiders are long-lived, with some reaching 30 years old, and the females procreate late in their life and infrequently. Poaching takes a serious toll on the tarantula population, and they take a long time to recover from these harvests. Scientists are afraid that this could have a much wider negative effect on our ecosystem in general, and other problems such as climate change and the destruction of their habitats are threatening their different species even more. Many of the most exotic and interesting tarantulas that people collect through the black market could end up being wiped out completely. The collectors buying the tarantulas may not have bad intentions, and actually have a love and appreciation for these exotic creatures. Unfortunately, that love could spell the end of their pets existence.

Do you know anyone that owns exotic tarantulas? How do they find ones to purchase, and do they know whether the seller obtained them legally?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Dangerous Spiders Imported From Canary Island Bananas May Have Caused One Medical Emergency That Nearly Ended In Tragedy

Spider bites used to be shrugged off by parents from previous generations, but due to an increase in dangerous and exotic spiders in regions where they are not native, medical professionals are beginning to treat spider bites with a greater amount of concern. Dangerous spiders are relatively uncommon in the United States, but they are abundant in South America and even Mexico. Given the dramatic increase in global trade during recent years, the chances of finding a dangerous non-native spider in your town is now much more probable than it ever has been. You may be surprised by how often non-native spiders and insects are found by grocery store employees while unpacking food shipments from South America. Of course, the US is not the only recipient of agricultural food shipments from South America. The fruits that westerners have become used to having all season long are usually imported from South America. Europe also collects fruit shipments from South America and Island regions around the horn of Africa. In fact, a recent incident involving a British girl hospitalized as the result of a spider bite may have occurred as the result of spider-contaminated fruit shipments from the Canary Islands.

After a small area of skin on a girl’s forearm seemed to melt away in response to a spider bite, she was rushed to a hospital where she was promptly put on an emergency IV drip of antibiotics. The girl’s wound, which was initially no larger than a fifty cent piece, was immediately recognized by doctors as a false widow bite. The surgeon who met with the young bite victim claimed to have suffered a false widow bite himself, and he recently treated another British girl who also sustained a bite from the nasty spider. Upon the girl’s first examination, doctors believed that she would have to undergo surgery in order to have the affected area of skin removed. However, a heavy dose of three different antibiotics healed the wound, making surgery unnecessary. According to the doctors who treated the young girl, cases of false widow bites have been increasing in Britain, and it is being theorized that the spiders are arriving in Britain from banana shipments imported from the Canary Islands.

Do you ever wonder if the fruit that you buy from the store contains exotic insects from the fruit’s home country?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Cannibal Spiders “Sing” to Each Other to Recognize Other Spiders of the Same Species and Avoid Becoming Dinner

Cannibal Spiders “Sing” to Each Other to Recognize Other Spiders of the Same Species and Avoid Becoming Dinner

There is plenty of cannibalism in the spider world, with one species of spiders that only prey on other spiders. However, this particular species has pretty bad eyesight, so there is a danger that they could eat one of their own species if not careful. They aren’t aiming to eat their own species, as this would cause obvious problems for the continued survival of the species. Eating member of your own species has quite a few drawbacks such as eating a possible mate or other spiders eating possible mates, causing missed mating opportunities, a higher risk of disease, as well as the obvious one of accidentally eating one of your own relatives. The spider species Palpimanus has a much higher risk of accidentally eating one of their own since they are specialized hunters, only preying on other spiders. So how do they avoid cannibalizing members of their own species? A recent study revealed that Palpimanus spiders likely use sound to recognize one another and avoid eating other members of the same species.

Since Palpimanus spiders have very poor eyesight they rely on touch and vibration instead to interpret what is going on around them. They can also make noise that sounds similar to buzzing chirps when they rub their facial appendages against the ridged surface of their jaws. In a recent study researchers placed two Palpimanus spiders in the same enclosure to see if they could recognize each other or one of them would end up eating the other one. When they put two of these spiders together the spiders usually would touch each other with their front legs and make a chirping sound. Both spiders walked away unharmed in this situation. However, a few smaller spiders that did not chirp did end up as dinner for the bigger spider.

The researchers then tried amputating some of the spiders’ facial appendages, rendering them unable to chirp. When they placed them in the same container as another spider of the same species that was bigger, the bigger spiders turned out to be four and a half times more likely to eat the smaller spider when they couldn’t chirp than when they could. This demonstrated that the spiders do, in fact, use sound to recognize each other and avoid eating their own species.

Have you ever heard a spider make noise such as chirping? What did you think it was doing?