It all started two Halloweens ago. My daughter, who was not yet three at the time fell in love with spiders. I know, I was surprised at first. She found stuffed spiders at our local dollar store. They went with her every where she did. The crossing guard at my son's school still remembers how protective she was with her precious stuffed spiders. She still has them and still plays with them.
At first I thought it was just the stuffed spiders, but soon she would see spiders on TV and we just had to watch them. I learned more about spiders that winter than I ever had before. By the spring we would find spiders in the yard and garage. We would watch them build their webs and admire how pretty the webs looked.
Then we went to the zoo. Nothing special we go to the zoo all the time, this time we found a children's play room. It was set up for the kids to play, explore and learn. In the room was a Hexagonal tank that housed the zoo's tarantula. Her name was proudly displayed for all to read. Her name was (still is) Madonna. B fell in love with this spider. She announced that she wanted to bring Madonna home with us.
Some little girls go to the zoo and love the tigers, monkeys, maybe even the zebra's. Not my daughter she goes to the zoo and wants a pet spider. Of course I had to break her heart and explain that Madonna lives at the zoo and the workers at the zoo would be very sad if she went home with my daughter. This worked for a couple visits.
B meanwhile must have been watching secret spider shows on TV. She still insisted that she wanted a tarantula for a pet. If you haven't heard a two year old ask for a pet tarantula it is just too darn cute. That little voice saying such a big word. She knew that some people had spiders at pets and for months she kept bugging us for a tarantula.
Now I try to be a cool mom, I am willing to get dirty with the kids and I let them get dirty. I try to be open about letting them try new things and experiences. I even arranged a tour of a water treatment plant when my son (who was three at the time) wanted to know what happened after the toilet was flushed. He just had to know where the pipes under the ground went and how they cleaned the water. So after about eight months of pleading for a pet spider (almost a third of her life) I started finding out more about people and pet tarantulas.
I found out they were pretty good pets. Some species of tarantula were more docile than others and made very good pets. They rarely bit people, often giving plenty of warning before they would lash out. I was warming up to the idea. I know, what was I thinking? So I figured it would be a while before I would get one for her, then I walked into a pet store. Yes, they had tarantulas and they took one out and let her see it up close.
Oh the joy on her face, the giggles were priceless. She was so happy. Then I noticed the price just $12.95 so being the impulsive mommy I am bought one, with cage and set up. I swear I made her lifetime that day. She couldn't wait to get home and hold her spider.
I still was a bit hesitant about letting my daughter old hold a spider so I picked up Hannah Montana (B named her) first. She was soft and fuzzy, no weight to her at all. The tips of her feet kind of reminded me of velcro. She explored my had and arm slowly and not once was aggressive or fast. I then let B hold her spider (the photo is above) and she loved it. I think she would have kissed the spider had I let her.
We have had Hannah for almost a year. B takes good care of her. She makes sure that Hannah has water and food. She feeds Hannah live crickets and has no problem grabbing the crickets to put in Hannah's habitat. She handles her spider occasionally with adult supervision of course. She is a fantastic mommy to Hannah.
Today we went out to buy the crickets. We came home and went to Hannah's habitat and we saw what looked like Hannah in a tight ball and motionless. B was horrified. She was crying, she thought her beloved pet had died. I had to take a double take, I was expecting this. Hannah, like all spiders molt. They shed their skin as they grow. Hannah was alive and well on the other side of the habitat.
It took a few minutes for B to calm down, and it took a few hours for her to really understand what happened. We explained as Hannah got a new outfit to wear.
This is the top view of the Molt
This is the bottom view, If you look close you might see her fangs. They are near the red coloring.
The spider literally pops out of her old skin revealing a nice shiny new skin. This is a very stressful time for a spider and they are very vulnerable so we can't feed her for about a week. So I guess this was an eventful stressful day for both peat and owner. We have saved the molt so B can bring it to school for show and tell in the fall. I am sure the teacher will like that more than the real live spider (which B did take to show and tell last year with permission from her teacher, that was a great show and tell, lol).