What are the Best Options for Choosing Pet Insects and Spiders?

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Answered by: Una, An Expert in the Your Relationship with Your Cat Category
Having cats and dogs as pets is one thing, but for those interested in more exotic creatures, it is worthwhile thinking about choosing pet insects and spiders. There are several advantages to keeping more unusual pets such as these, including never having to walk them, no muddy kitchen floors to clean, and definitely no arguments over who gets the biggest share of the bed. As with everything in life, of course, there are a few down sides. Anyone who enjoys cuddling their pet, or even sharing sloppy kisses, will likely not be switched on to the option of insects and spiders as pets. However, for those who prefer their pets with more than four legs and equipped with a rocking range of antennae, they need to know what are the best options to choose from.

Embarking on the fascinating journey of keeping pet insects and spiders, there are several caveats to consider before diving in and bringing home a three feet millipede that is capable of hunting birds. It is best to avoid offending the neighbours and give some due thought to selection. The first aspect to think about is sourcing the insects and spiders from reputable and responsible suppliers. By doing so, a wealth of expertise will be available, providing answers to all the fundamentals of caring for these specialist creatures. It is vital that safety is at the forefront of any selection process, guaranteeing that recommended suppliers will not be selling anything illegal, namely endangered and dangerous species. Experts can also ensure that the insects and spiders are cared for humanely, as basic errors may cause the creatures to die. The worst thing anyone wants, after bringing their brand new and shiny spider or insect home, is to see them perish very quickly from a lack of appropriate care.

So what types of exotic critters are suitable for the intrepid beginner? For insects, a great choice is the beautiful praying mantis. Like many insects, the mantis has six legs, two wings and two antennae. Unlike many insects, however, it shares a trait with humans that no other insect has, namely that the mantis can turn its head. Praying mantids are in possession of specially modified front legs designed to capture prey and hold onto them. These legs are incredibly strong and, because they are armed with spikes, the mantids are able to maintain their hold on struggling prey without too much difficulty. The majority of mantids have wings, although not all, and despite the females having them, they do not usually fly. Take note, however, that the males can! Praying mantids are generally easy to keep as long as a few basic principles are followed. The most important of these is to ensure the mantis eats the food given to it. They require live prey, such as flies and cockroaches. A good way to ensure the mantis does eat is by offering the prey on the end of a pair of tweezers. Live prey can hide, and the mantis could starve as a consequence. Generally speaking, as long as the mantis is observed eating, the outcome is one happy and health insect.

Spiders are not likely to appear on a top ten list of cuddly critters any time soon. Despite image problems, spiders are popular choices as exotic pets. Everything that applies to choosing an insect is true for spiders. A supplier will be able to recommend the best options to get started, including advising on the pros and cons of looking after female and male arachnids. The basic rule with spiders is that the girls outlive the boys, often by many years. A female tarantula has at least fifteen years on the male. For beginners, the most popular choice is the beautiful Chilean Rose, a relatively easy to keep spider. Great care needs to be taken in handling tarantulas as they are delicate and prone to stress, and may bite if particularly agitated. While a bite from this particular species is not fatal, it is important to be mindful of issues such as anaphylactic shock because the venom is similar to a bee sting. All species of tarantula have what is known as urticating hairs on their abdomens, which a stressed spider can release by rubbing that area. Barbed as these hairs are, they are extremely irritant so it is crucial that after handling the spider, hands are promptly washed to avoid irritation, particularly of the eyes.

As long as basic principles are adhered to, caring for exotic animals can be a hugely rewarding experience. While there may be no orderly lines forming to cuddle the new arrival, it is no less than a privilege to study such remarkable and beautiful creatures.

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