I Want to See One of These Bad-Ass Spiders in Real Life Before I Die (Hopefully Not Due to Its Bite)

I’ll never forget the moment: I was wandering around a mall in Santa Rosa, California in 1995, checking out the wares in some sort of adventure-themed shop dedicated to books and toys and games and other gewgaws centered upon wildlife and exotic outdoor exploration. I want to say that it was some sort of zoological version of Sharper Image, but my memory banks are fading and I never saw such a boutique again, anywhere, so the business model itself could not have lasted very long.

The store was probably best-described as something that you’d find at the end of your tour of the late Aussie Steve Irwin’s jungle park or whatever the hell his brood continues to operate Down Under. A kind of gift shop for the intrepid admirer of strange animals and other biological oddities and beasties of the natural world.

Anyhow, in this store in Santa Rosa, they sold a large, blow-up plastic model of a Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria species) in full “attack mode”—its front legs raised high and its fangs spread wide in preparation to jump on you and deliver one of its neurologically devastating Bites of Horror. I had never seen or heard of such a bad-ass spider in my young life and, upon reading (on the tag) that the Brazilian Wandering Spider was the most venomous and aggressive arachnid ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH, I was duly obsessed for … well, forever.

Long story short: this spider-nerd did not have enough money on himself at the time to buy the blow-up version of the Brazilian Wandering Spider, so I spent the next 25 years studying every article and scientific paper I could pertaining to this dangerous denizen of the South American tropics. Of course, my investigative efforts in this regard were helped greatly by the ensuing advent of Google and YouTube and 9 Zillion cable-TV channels devoted to adrenalin-junkie explorer dudes wandering the wilds and poking sticks at poisonous creatures for ratings.

The Brazilian Wandering Spider is TROUBLE. Its venom is, milligram for milligram, more toxic than that of a rattlesnake, much less any other “problematic” spider on the globe. In one chilling example from Brazil, a scientist documented an instance in which just one of these spiders killed two young children sleeping in the same bed. The spider had become entangled beneath the kids’ bedsheet and, after biting one, it bit the other child as both thrashed about in the darkness, screaming in pain. The poor kids were both dead in an hour.

If a tragic tale like that doesn’t make your hair stand on end, nothing will. But it will also add to the fascination-level of a mind like mine, e.g. how and why do spiders of this genus develop such particularly lethal venoms during the process of evolution, over millions of years, especially when mammals like us are obviously not on their menu. These big arachnids eat jungle-bugs and, maybe, the occasional hapless mouse or lizard or small bird.

There are plenty of documented stories about Brazilian Wandering Spiders chasing people all around their houses—these large spiders do not run away when confronted; on the contrary, they run AFTER you. One poor woman in Sao Paolo tried to defend herself by bashing the spider with a broom. The spider simply jumped onto the broom, scuttled up the entire handle and bit her in the hand before the stunned soul had the presence of mind to drop the thing.

Another individual, a farmer, came upon his three large dogs barking and “playing” with a single Brazilian Wandering Spider in full “attack display” in his front yard one day. Two of the dogs were dead by the end of the afternoon and the third barely survived.

Perhaps one of the most astonishing hallmarks of the bite of the Brazilian Wandering Spider is that their excruciatingly painful bites—the venom is comprised of a cocktail of pain-generating proteins and peptides high in serotonin—almost always result in an unexpected side-effect in male mammals: agonizing, long-lasting erections. Yep.

Needless to say, major pharmaceutical companies are already experimenting with the venom of the Brazilian Wandering Spider with the intent to create new, better drugs to treat erectile dysfunction in men because, well, there simply aren’t enough humans populating the world and we need more raging boners on planet Earth.

Whatever the case, these spiders are the stuff of nightmares and obsessions, at least for a Curious Joe like me, who has been demanding “Why, why why?” and “How, how, how?” ever since I was old enough to be slapped into silence.

Click on the link in the text above to learn (and see) more about this fascinating inhabitant of our tropical rain forests and cities below the Equator. For my part, I’d like to actually see one of these creatures in real life—from a safe distance or behind protective glass or something—at least once in my life. If that makes me weird, then you ain’t telling me anything I don’t already know. Hmmpph!


#BrazilianWanderingSpider #VenomousAnimals #Spiders #Venom #Phoneutria #AuthorJonathanKieran #JonathanKieran #WriterJonathanKieran #CaliforniaLife #OnTheEdge #Wistwood #JonathanKieranTheAuthor #JonathanKieranMusic #JonathanKieranNewAlbum #JonathanKieranArtist #Jericho #JonathanKieranJericho #JerichoAlbum #WritersOfInstagram #ArtistsOfInstagram

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