by Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomologist
A few posts ago, I mentioned the hazards of pet tarantulas. In general, I believe that most wild animals, including spiders and insects, don't make very good pets, and that they are best observed in the wild or in educational exhibits. This is just an opinion: I don't think it should be illegal for people to keep these pets, I just think, personally, that many of these animals are, at worst, dangerous, and at best, a little boring. Live spiders, snakes, and birds make great educational displays and they can be fun projects for people who are REALLY interested in them, but the rest of us should stick with dogs and cats.
David Letterman learned this lesson first-hand. A few days ago on his show, he talked about his toad-ownership experience. It seems that his young son Harry really loves toads and frogs. So, a person from the Natural History Museum installed a toad terrarium ($$$), complete with two toads, in Dave's home. Dave and Harry soon discovered that "having a toad and not having a toad... there's really very little difference." These toads, named Hoppy and Zoogie, like to burrow, see, so they buried themselves as soon as they were placed in their new home. Recently, Dave and Harry son decided to "inventory" the toads, so they dug them out of the soil. Luckily, both toads were still alive. But Harry dropped one of them and it fell on its back. So they stuck it back in the terrarium. As Dave said, "and as far as we know... everything's fine."
I can attest that Dave's description is generally applicable to tarantula ownership, as well. And you should NEVER drop a tarantula on it's back.
Dave and his son also own two African Clawed Frogs. He said that they are quite ugly. Dave and Harry are now watching the male slowly die because the female steals all of the food. I suppose I shouldn't find this funny...