Spider Pets

My wife is a pet person. According to her, anything "with a face" is cute. And she has an generous definition of "face." I've found it includes anything with visible eyes. The eyes are important. Unsurprisingly, she loves jumping spiders.

In case anyone is like my wife, remember: spiders don't enjoy being handled. Hard to believe that needs stated, but yeah.

We've had 4 bold jumping spiders.


Our first spider pet. We didn't know how to determine a spider's gender, so we gave it a unisex name. My wife likes the names Mary Jane and Michael Jordan, so she could believe it was either and still be happy. To this day, we still don't know how to identify spider sex. And we still switch between calling the spiders "he" or "she." It's fun.

I don't remember where my wife found MJ.

MJ was our "learning" spider. We bravely delved into my mother-in-law's basement for a terrarium. I'd been lurking in the invertebrate general threads on 4chan's /an/ board (again, my wife finds pictures of them cute), so I knew coconut fiber would be a good soil substitute.

What to feed her was a tougher problem. A young jumping spider is tiny, so we worried crickets might hurt her. We tried meal worms at first. The first couple worms immediately burrowed in the fiber, never coming up. I then cleaned a glass ash tray and pushed it into the fiber, thinking the worms couldn't climb the sides. They quickly embarrassed me. Resigned, we bought small crickets.

We didn't have to worry about her safety. MJ mostly skulked around the top of the cage between the glass and lid. She would descend to snatch a cricket every couple days. We never saw her catch one, but we did see her feeding at times. She had pulled the cricket up the side of the glass to a safe height and stayed still with it in her mouth. Jumping spiders don't build webs, so she couldn't wrap it up while it dissolved. She did attach the body to the glass with a few threads. After an hour or so, she'd leave the husk dangling from silk.

The worms sucked at being food, but they excelled at keeping the terrarium clean. They'd climb up the sticks and fake leaves, pull down the cricket shells, and munch them away. I'm pretty sure they also munched the coconut fiber until it had the texture of soil. MJ did eat a couple who stayed in the open air too long.


We found Scary Joe, Junior, (JJ) inside his namesake: a scarecrow named Scary Joe. I had thrown Scary Joe onto a pile of weeds to burn later (later never came, and I never cared). When my wife's aunt came to help clean up the yard, I tried to clean the pile and not seem the mess I am. As I took off Scary Joe's jeans, a large (thumbnail sized, counting legs) black jumping spider scampered out. I called my wife over. We kept him in a plastic soup container for an hour while preparing his small terrarium.

When MJ passed (i.e. disappeared), we moved him to the large terrarium.


We named DW because he was part of a dozen or so that hatched around the door of our previous house. He lives in the small terrarium. The meal worms haven't been able to survive well in there, so I keep up his supply of crickets. One of them's grown huge from the lettuce, and seems to have struck a truce with DW.


JC came from the local Jewish Community Center, where my wife works as a daycare teacher. She says the children posed a threat to the spider, but I know she just loves spiders. Luckily, we only have two terrariums, so that limits her wildlife disruption.

JC's been a pickier eater, never touching the worms. She's very skittish when I get near the terrarium. I don't mind. It means she gets away from the lid when I'm adding crickets or lettuce, and I don't have to worry about pinching her when replacing it.