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Farmers' Creepy New Gig: Collecting Tarantulas

They provide the animals to pet breeders
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 7, 2014 1:30 PM CST

(Newser) – 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.

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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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