The day before yesterday Fatima and I were sitting over breakfast waiting around for the Federal Police (no – they weren’t the uninvited guests!) who were coming to interview me, for me to get my permanent visa…they had made an appointment for “early in the morning” because Fatima had to be at work in the afternoon; they had been in Jacone the day before checking with neighbours that I actually lived at the property but in fact they never turned up for the meeting; but that’s not why I am writing this ‘journal entry’ (see previous Blog for why I didn’t use the word ‘Blog’…!!)
Anyway, there we were relaxing over coffee and suddenly I noticed a spider in the middle of the kitchen floor, looking like a miniature Tarantula, which, of course, it could not be because we don’t have tarantulas living in the house. I asked Fatima if she recognised it and ‘was it dangerous?’ and she did not seem particularly perturbed by it so I caught it and put it out into the garden, rather than have it in the house. By and large, as those of you who know me will know, I do not like killing things (but I do make exceptions of cockroaches; ants, if they are in the house – they’re fine outside; and mosquitoes, especially now that Dengue fever is becoming more prevalent in and around Rio) so the spider was safe enough.
By the way – a tip for catching spiders if you have never tried – they generally feel safer inside something so, first find a container (mine was a plastic margerine carton) which you put nearby the still spider and then poke him or her gently with something else handy and the said spider will run into your container. Works every time (well, almost every time!)…so, anyway, I caught the spider and put him in the garden as indicated above, thinking no more about it.
Then, very early this morning, I woke up and my mind had obviously been subconsciously analysing the information from the event and the question that had puzzled me – “why was there a small hairy spider in the middle of the kitchen floor, when we have never seen hairy spiders in the house?” – suddenly had an answer; 4.30 am is a good time for new answers appearing from the subconscious I have found!
Well, the answer which best fits the evidence, is that it WAS a tarantula – perhaps a baby one, it was less than an inch long – which had come into the house in a bunch of bananas we had bought. We had just used the last of the bunch and the remains of the stalk had just been put into the kitchen waste bin. Clearly the spider didn’t much like these surroundings (not very homely?) and had climbed slowly out of the bin and had made it to the middle of the floor before I had spotted him (or, perhaps, her; I didn’t take the time to sex the spider before finding it a new home).
So, having come to the early morning conclusion that it was, probably, a Tarantula, I had one of those very early morning feelings of panic, that I now had a dangerous spider lurking in the garden, so quickly leapt to turn on the computer and find out just how dangerous it was. It turns out it is not particularly dangerous to humans, slightly venomous if defending itself but about the same as a wasp sting. So, just don’t poke it too hard!
It is, however, dangerous if it is a female Goliath Birdeating Tarantula and you are a male Tarantula because the females have a tendency to eat the males just after mating with them. According to Wikipedia … “Birdeaters are one of the few tarantula species that lack tibial spurs, located on the first pair of legs of most adult males, which serve to keep the fangs of the female immobilized during mating, so that the female does not eat the male.” Wiki is also the source of the picture at the end showing an adult – but the uninvited guest must have been a spiderling, definitely less than an inch on the ruler in the picture.
Apparently their typical life span is quite long, at 15-25 years, but the GOOD thing is that they eat cockroaches, which I hate having around the house! And insects generally, so the guest might keep the ant population down and reduce the mosquito population too, which would both be good things to do. The last note in the Wiki article was very reassuring… “Tarantulas are becoming increasingly popular as pets …” so if it is a female and has lots of spiderlings we might set up shop as a “petshop”.