PHOENIX — It's hard being a giant spider.
You're not the most popular animal at the zoo. Most people don't want to pet you or, really, be anywhere near you.
But it's tarantula season, and that means those giant spiders are going to make themselves a lot more visible.
Josh Crabtree with the Phoenix Zoo knows more about tarantulas than most people.
"It's very natural behavior for tarantulas to just hang out," Crabtree said as he put a six-inch spider on a dead cactus.
He's not surprised people are seeing more tarantulas.
“One, you have urban sprawl, so the city is moving further and further out into their natural habitat," Crabtree said. “And two, it is the breeding season for these spiders.”
And the breeding season is what gets these normally solitary spiders out in herds.
"It is not uncommon to find very large migration of male tarantulas all at once," Crabtree said. "Anywhere from the hundreds to thousands of tarantulas.”
Late summer and early fall are the tarantula mating season, so the males are on the move.
But don't worry, they're not after you.
“They all have fangs anywhere from a half-inch to an inch long so they can inject venom," Crabtree said. "But the venom is relatively harmless to humans unless you have an allergic reaction to it.”
Which most people don't, he said.
And, unlike in horror movies, they're not going to leap up from the ground and attack you. You have to get close, in which case the tarantula will probably give you a warning: it'll rear up and spread its legs out to make itself more threatening.
Crabtree said that tarantulas are an important part of the food chain, taking care of a lot of pests. And, he said, they generally leave people alone.
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