On a recent climbing trip, my climbing partner mentioned to me that they have a pet spider. My entomological mind automatically began sorting the spiders into different classifications wondering which species it would be. It took me days to consider how rare my love for spiders is likely to be in the general population. For you, are spiders pets or pet peeves?
Mobile vs Stationary
Some spiders are active hunters such as:
- Wolf Spiders
- American Wandering Spiders
- Fishing Spiders
- Jumping Spiders
Other spiders are web hunters that spin silk near where their pray resides or passes by such as:
- Orb Weavers
- Cellar Spiders
- Black Widow Spiders
- American House Spiders
Web spiders tend to be easier to keep as pets since they are tied to their webs. Web spiders tend to drive pet peeve status for those that:
- hate walking through a spider web and having it cling to your hair, nose, and mouth
- want to maintain a clean and cobweb free interior
- are not fans of the aesthetics of the arachnid exterior decorators. The only webs they like are Halloween decorations and some can’t even handle those.
Are Spiders Pets or Pet Peeves: Cute vs Freak Show
Some spiders have certain characteristics that make them take on a sense of cuteness. The top 3 cute facts that some spiders have going for them are:
- Oversized eyes – whether on a teddy bear or a jumping spider, the oversized eyes will cause our brains to draw a closer tie between the object and a human face
- Fuzziness – some spiders have long gangly hairs, but the ones like Mexican Rose Hair tarantulas have a soft feel and cuddly appearance that make them one of the most popular pet store purchases in the arachnid vein.
- Bright colors – in much of the animal world, bright colors indicate “stay away!” For us humans, we have a sense of wonder and awe that gets triggered by bright contrasting colors. Many spiders such as orb weavers have striking colors that grab our attention.
For those that feel more closely related to PT Barnum when observing spiders, the following top 3 freak show characteristics jump out:
- Uncanny Valley – when features are distorted or not quite right to us, this triggers the Uncanny Valley effect. Spiders’ legs seem too long for their body and they move in a hydraulic fashion giving the bulk of us the creeps
- Always watching – when we think of something watching us, we get the Heebie Jeebies. Since spiders have 6 to 8 eyes, this tends to push our brains in the wrong direction
- Narrative thinking – our brains do not like the unknown. We see spiders setting up to bite insects and have a self-preservation fear of biting things. Whenever something looks like it could be a spider bite, we tend to create this story to simplify the equation even though spider bites are much more rare than reported. Spiders can’t eat us and would much rather run away than take on a monster 100+ times its size.
While climbing, I made the guess that the spider was a type of jumping spider. I was pleased to receive via text a few days later some cute pictures of a Zebra Jumping spider. Wherever you fall on the pet to pet peeve spectrum for spiders, we are happy to help from identification to control efforts. Rove’s spider specialists are ready to help on all fronts!