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How to keep a giant spider

****While it is nice to be able to deploy a gargantuan weasel or a phalanx of outsized tapeworms, any evildoer will rack up major brownie points if the the word going around is how there is a loathesome eight-legger or two patrolling the approaches to the lair. For in the human mind there is a deeply ingrained antipathy against the arachnoid creepy-crawlie, which is amplified manyfold when the creature is scaled up to unnatural proportions. You might imagine that all you need is a batch of mutant eggs, an overgrown forest trail, and a couple of months, but it turns out that arachniculture is an exacting art not for the rank beginner.

*Evil plotpoints

  1. Selection of species. Besides the familiar web spinners, there are also burrowing trap-door spiders, jumping wolf spiders, high-stepping Daddy Longlegs harvestmen. Also, with a little extra effort, there are the spiders from Mars, megatarantulas, rabid barking spiders, and augmented black widows. Decide carefully what best fits your style and your budget.
  2. The supplier. Many's the prospective spider owner duped into buying a crate of lacrosse balls in place of eggs. Make certain your source is a reputable one by talking to their other customers and touring their breeding facility, if possible. Also before you take it home make it clear on whether your purchase is a web-spinning sort or a hunting sort of monster (few spiders excel at both behaviors).
  3. Hatching. Temperature and humidity are the most critical factors here, with the optimum settings varying from species to species. An instant reading digital climate control system is what the sensible giant spider husbandry experts recommend. Make sure the eggs remain undisturbed, both before and after the time of emergence.
  4. Thinning out. In many species, this takes care of itself immediately after the young spiders emerge, at the siblings' first meal. Otherwise, you may need to sacrifice the weaker members of the brood, hand-culling, setting them against one another, or perhaps picking them off with a revolver depending on their size and attributes.
  5. Maintenance. This is the fun part. Provide your giant spiders with live prey, congenial shelter in a dark, dank cave, medical attention as needed, and a wide, wide berth and all should be well. You will know that your fully grown beasts are doing well by observing the growth in the pile of bones at the edge of the forbidden zone surrounding their abode.

! Strokes of genius

  • A change of scenery. Sometimes a broody spider will be perked up if taken out of its accustomed haunts. One that sulky and a picky eater can make a dramatic turnaround when exposed to exciting new surroundings and tempting new prey. This is easier to arrange for poodle-sized arachnids than the ones the size of a golf cart, for which the better treatment may consist of a bit of home redecoration. Appeal not only to their eight eyes but to their sensitive touch when crafting your artistry.
  • Training. Good tricks: Stay, Roll over, Sic em, Heel. Bad trick: Hey guys wanna see something really funny? You may also benefit from a course of basic conditioned response training to teach your charge the difference between their normal prey and your clearly uniformed minions.
  • Sound effects. With only a few exceptions, the normal-sized precursors of giant spiders do not generally make a great deal of noise, so if you want your creations to bellow, chatter, or shriek you almost certainly need to engineer this capability in yourself. If you want them to have the power of speech, things are even more tricky, unless you go the simpler route of implanting a wireless speaker around the thing’s body somewhere.
  • Advanced variants. There are a few fanciers who speciallze in more exotic specimens than the normal monstrous horror: these include such things as robotic spiders, dimension-traversing spiders, vampire spiders, demonic batwinged spiders, telepathic hyperintelligent spiders, hybrid half-scorpion half-spider abominations, and human-sized werespiders. Now and then a sudden fashion trend for one of these will break out suddenly, last a couple of seasons, then fade out of favor, taking with them the dreams of fame and wealth for those breeders who sank a small fortune into supplying the market that dried up. But if you have your heart set on one of these and take good care of a few healthy individuals over the long run, you may find the fad returning some day to reward your hard work.

!! Traps for mere fools

  • Rolled up magazines. These may frighten your spider, owing to unpleasant associations. Brooms also.
  • The pantry. They all pretty much like to suck their envenomed victims dry, either soon after catching them or after some time wrapped in silk. When housekeeping, avoid overzealous cleaning up of mummified objects unless you are quite certain that all the good stuff has been drained out.
  • Ticks and mites. in an ironic twist, spiders tend to suffer from arthropod pests themselves. Careful grooming and sanitation by the spider wrangler is a full-time job to keep your charge in show-quality form.
  • Mutant tarantula hawks.
  • Spider monkeys. Despite the name, they are not actually spiders, and have quite different requirements from what you might expect.

Sitticus fasciger Jumping Spider

+ Precious and needful

  • Armor. Don't forget the thick leather gloves, and antivenom for when these aren't enough.
  • WD-40. There are times where you need to venture into a place where you really do not want to get stuck. Apply liberally and step conservatively.
  • Chainsaw. It is often stated that spider silk is stronger than steel, but this refers to the tensile strength, not to the resistance to abrasion. A good Poulan or Husqvarna will be able to chew its way through a tough web in most cases.
  • Antivenom doses.

Further plotting

Created by: GrinningSkull. Last Modification: Thursday 28 of October, 2010 07:50:14 EDT by Veeper.

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