Couple keeps dead tarantula on front porch to greet guests: 'We didn't want to throw away the family pet'

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I had a couple of friends with what I like to call "non-traditional pets." They kept an aquarium filled with snakes in the living room and a tarantula in their daughter's bedroom.

Their daughter was in elementary school; she loved spiders and snakes. That tarantula was the same as a puppy or a kitten to her, minus the belly rubs and scratching behind the ears.

Whenever I visited my friends, I insisted on seeing the snakes and the tarantula before settling in, just to make sure they were present and accounted for before I got comfortable.

I never got comfortable.

One day, my friends gave me "bad news." At least, that's what they called it. I wasn't so sure it was bad.

Their tarantula had died.

"Are you sure?" I asked as I tried to suppress my glee.

They assured me that they were sure.

The next time I came to visit, I spotted something startling. A huge tarantula was sitting on the stone wall near their front door. In fact, if I wanted to reach the front door, I'd have to pass by it.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to reach the front door that badly.

How quickly do tarantulas move? Can they jump?

I was frozen in place, trying to make eye contact with a tarantula to let it know it wasn't going to be sneaking up on me no matter how many its legs outnumbered mine. Fortunately, one of my friends spotted me from the window.

"Don't worry. I told you. It's dead." She laughed. "You can walk right past it."

"Oh," I replied. "I didn't know if this was the dead one or if you got a new one." I still didn't trust it, but I sidled by it and arrived safely at the front door.

"We didn't want to throw away the family pet," my friend explained over instant coffee. "This way, it can still greet our guests, and our daughter can enjoy it when she's playing outside."

"Great idea," I muttered without conviction into my coffee cup.

I didn't feel much more comfortable inside the house now, which had the same number of snakes despite being short a single tarantula.

Unfortunately, my friends kept their lifeless tarantula atop the wall outside their front door for "as long as they could." I'm not sure what that meant. Did someone complain? Did it start to deteriorate? I may never know. It doesn't matter.

They were perfectly happy living with either a living or a dead tarantula. I'm only happy living without either.

Would you feel comfortable visiting friends with non-traditional pets such as tarantulas or snakes, or would you stay away? Comments are welcome.

Why would you want to Buy Me a Coffee? I am a full-time writer and a full-time unpaid caregiver to my 82-year-old father, who lives with Parkinson's. Your tip or donation allows me to provide for his care and comfort around the clock while working from home. Thank you.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Massachusetts State

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