Glasgow Zoo Park
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Spiders at Glasgow Zoopark
Rosie (Chilean Rose Spider)

Chilean Rose Spider
Grammastola spatulatus

Scorpions, spiders, ticks, and mites are all members of the arachnid class. All spiders and scorpions are poisonous, but for humans a bite or sting is only like a bee sting. They need their poison to kill their prey and partly digest it.

South and Central America straddling the Equator and the Tropics are home to vast numbers of species of invertebrates. Spiders are a key component finding abundant food in the myriads of insects, smaller spiders and even small birds and mammals. Tarantulas and bird-eating spiders are the most glamorous versions, beloved of enthusiasts in the country who like to collect them. They can live a relatively long time, up to sixteen years in some cases, and are easy to maintain and keep in good conditions.

The Chilean Rose is a fairly docile, tolerant spider which quickly becomes tame, with gentle, understanding handling. The hairs which cover the animal's body are nictating, and used as a defence. Microscopic examination has shown several species to be surrounded by a cloud of such hairs which can cause intense irritation to the skin and eyes of a predator, so sensible care should be taken when handling.

For many year these nictating hairs were a principle component of joke-shop itching powder, though today artificial alternatives are available.
Although we tend to regard spiders as being of no direct use to us, this is not the case for native residents of the tropical rainforests and other tropical areas. Larger spiders tend to live in traditional areas, which are easily wiped out by over collecting for the pet trade. Native peoples used these spiders as a useful source of protein in emergencies, when food was scarce.

Spider Venom Aids Heart Attack Victims

A report in the Journal of General Physiology has revealed that the poison of a tarantula spider may help save the lives of heart attack and brain tumour sufferers.
There are more than 30,000 species of spiders and the report's author, Professor Frederick Sachs, is studying the popular and readily available Chile Rose.
All spiders bite, though the amount of poison in the bite varies from virtually none in the UK species, to seriously toxic in some Australian Black Widow types.
The Chile Rose is well known to pet keepers as a particularly docile tarantula, despite possessing relatively abundant amounts of venom.
Such spiders live an amazingly long time 15 to 20 years. With kind handling, they become used to their owners and virtually never bite.
Even when they do, they usually give you notice that they are having an off-day.

Professor Sachs has found that a component in the venom of the Chile Rose is the chemical which blocks a part of the body's cells which govern muscle contraction.
When you suffer a heart attack, an often fatal form of rapid heart muscle contraction called ventricular fibrillation can occur. This chemical can block this, and might turn out to be a life-saver in due course, though obviously much research still needs to be done.

Mexican Red-knees

The zoo has 4 juveniles, one adult, several of whom have bred here. The Mexican Red-knee flicks urticating hairs when annoyed, which in the eyes causes an awful inflammation, on the skin a bad rash!

African Baboon spiders - Ceratogyrus darling

A very angry Francis, Baboon spider
Francis in attack position
these bite readily when provoked, rearing on their hind legs.

Imperial scorpions.
We also keep Imperial scorpions. Unlike tarantulas, they cannot climb up on glass.

Scorpions, spiders, ticks, and mites are all members of the arachnid class. All spiders and scorpions are poisonous, but for humans a bite or sting is only like a bee sting. They need their poison to kill their prey and partly digest it.

In mid-May 1999, Gila answered a routine call to visit a fruiterer to collect a spider which had emerged from a bag of Chilean onions. As all experienced zoo people know, just because a bag says the contents come from Chile, this does not mean the spider climbed aboard in Chile! It could be, and usually is, a British house spider which sidled in after the bag was opened, only to emerge again to the consternation of the natives. On this occasion, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Gila had indeed added a large and very hairy juvenile Chilean rose tarantula to her collection of over thirty spiders.

You can also find Pink-Toed Tarantula Avicularia avicularia on display at the Zoopark.

Millennium Bug Sanctuary

We will cheerfully accept as many spiders as possible for our Millennium Bug Sanctuary. They are easy to look after, are interesting personalities, and can live until they are 16 years old.

Spider [poem]

Do you know the difference between a spider and a fly?