Farmers' Creepy New Gig: Collecting Tarantulas

They provide the animals to pet breeders
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2014 1:30 PM CST
Farmers' Creepy New Gig: Collecting Tarantulas
A second-grader holds Legs, a tarantula, in Tennessee.   (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Kyle Kurlick)

After a drought this summer, some Nicaraguan farmers have struggled to make ends meet. But some have found a new way to make money: by collecting members of the local tarantula population, AFP reports. Over a two-week period, one family was able to collect 400 of the creatures. "We were a bit afraid, but we sucked it up and did it because of the drought," says a farmer, who then made a 60-mile journey to transfer the animals to a government-approved breeding company called Exotic Fauna. The farmer gets about $1 for each animal; that's enough to buy a quart of milk in Nicaragua.

Exotic Fauna is working to breed 7,000 of the animals, which are in demand as pets in the US, China, and elsewhere. They sell for up to $8 each. Another exotic animal farmer sells about 10,000 tarantulas each year, with customers in Europe also scooping them up. "There are a lot of people that love to have them at home, some as pets and others because they like danger," says an expert. But tarantula farming isn't always easy; it's tough to make a big profit because tarantula care, including parasite prevention, can be expensive. (In other tarantula news, a Brazilian spider was recently named after a legendary musician.)

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