In my previous post, I talked about the dangers of having reptiles as pets, and by how having them in the home can pose health and hygiene dangers.
To me, even worse than harbouring the exotic reptile – which I say, I’d much rather prefer having to live in my home, is pet spiders. There is just something about their menacing and contemplating demeanour that just makes me feel uneasy…
Having done some research on keeping spiders as pets, I must say that (surprisingly!) they do not pose as much of a health risk as what lizards do. Especially by the looks of spiders, one would not say that they are a much easier pet to have in the home than lizards. The most common spider to have as a pet is a Theraphosid, also known as a tarantula, or as we like to call them here in South Africa, a “bobbejaanspinnekop”. Fortunately for those spider lovers out there, and contrary to the general belief, their venom is not considered to be medically significant. The pain from this spider’s bite is predominantly ascribed to the hefty size of their fangs, and it is reported to have quite a painful burning sensation, ouch!
Pet spiders can be acquired from your local pet shop and do not pose much of a danger to us humans. I am especially thrilled that I do not have to cower in a corner when visiting my friend Jason who has pet tarantulas, but I will most definitely not be coming into any contact with them – not only because they repulse me, but because of their urticating hairs. These are stinging hairs are a defence mechanism that a tarantula makes use of when it feels threatened. The urticating hairs can very easily come off, just by rubbing its legs and can cause all sorts of uncomfortable allergic reactions ranging from itchiness on the skin as well getting in through your nostrils causing irrepressible sneezing and restricted breathing. These small hairs can even cause momentary blindness!
Pet or pest?
Having spiders on board as a permanent house guest is not as bad as I thought. But, these creepy crawly insects have to be fed as well, so one has to consider bringing insects into the home to feed them, and ensure that they do not take over. Some people, like me live in fear of spiders and would rather not have them in the home. As some of you are lovers of spiders as pets, I have done some research on how to get rid of spiders in your home, in a natural way:
- Be sure to use yellow light bulbs outside your home, which will attract fewer insects and thus ensure fewer spiders spinning webs in your house.
- Regularly sweep, vacuum and dust in any corners, baseboards, as well as washers and dryers to prevent spiders from spinning webs. Remove any spider webs when spiders are not in them, as this encourages them to make your house their home.
- Did you know that spiders don’t like citrus or peppermint? Be sure to rub citrus in areas that spiders inhabit such as windowsills or on bookshelves, or spray a peppermint mixture in these areas. Vinegar and even tobacco also helps to do the trick.
- If you have a shed, be sure that it is weather stripped, and that the door and windows are sealed properly (the same goes for caulking window frames and door panels indoors), and be sure to regularly clean and dust, as spiders love hiding in nooks and crannies. Also make sure that there aren’t piles of chopped wood or vegetation lying around in your garden as this will also attract spiders.
- If you don’t have a cat already, do a good deed and adopt one from your local shelter. Cats are great hunters and hunt rats and mice regularly.
On the other hand, spiders make for great natural pest control, catching other annoying insects in the home. Sometimes they do end up becoming more of a nuisance than being your very own insect-killer hero. Many a time one can control an infestation, but in certain cases, the problem can escalate and you would need to get your local pest control techie to assist.
So, unless you are an arachnid lover, I personally would not add spiders onto my top 5 list of pets to have around the home!