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Playing with Animals

November 1, 2012   

In my Invertebrate Biology lab, we get to look at a lot of specimens to see the anatomy and diversity of different animals.  Currently, we are making our way through Phylum Arthropoda, which includes spiders, centipedes, millipedes, crabs, and shrimp!  Since a lot of these animals are easy to look at alive, we get to play with a lot of cool animals in lab.

Today was most definitely the best day in lab ever because I got to hold a tarantula!  Now, I was just as freaked out as you were when I found out that we would have this opportunity.  Throughout lab, I kept on thinking that I wasn’t going to hold it because I was too scared.  I’m not necessarily afraid of spiders, but I’m really afraid of bad things happening and I really didn’t want to get bitten.  However, Hillary Joy (who is in charge of the greenhouse and maintaining the invertebrate animals) assured us that the tarantula was very gentle.  As if!  How could a hairy venomous spider be nice?!? 

As lab went on, a lot of people were taking turns at holding it.  So, by the end of lab I figured I’d give it a shot.  When would I ever get a chance to hold a tarantula again?  It was a red-haired one, which means that their bites only feel like beestings.  Getting stung by a bee still hurts, but at least it wasn’t a tarantula that could kill you!

I decided to only let the tarantula rest on my arm, which was covered by my sweatshirt just in case.  I was slightly too scared to hold it in my bare hands.  When the spider was on me, it was really creepy!  It didn’t really move around much (thank God!), but it was very surreal to hold something that is usually depicted as deadly by the media (Arachnophobia the movie, anyone?).  Once I had it taken off of me and could finally breath again, I realized that holding the tarantula wasn’t as bad as I thought.  It was actually kind of cool to be in such close proximity to a venomous animal.  One girl in my class even put it on top of her head!

After having this experience, I feel like I can conquer anything.  I still cannot get over the fact that I held a tarantula!  The next time one of my roommates freaks out about having a tiny spider in the room, I know that I can help pick it up and bring it to safety without being scared.  To all of the arachnophobes out there- spiders really aren’t that bad, including tarantulas!