Woman starts tarantula-breeding business

One local tarantula hobbyist appears to be tapping a niche market in North Kitsap, as she makes plans to venture into the business of spider breeding.

When Lauren Weiss posted to the North Kitsap Community Facebook group in search of people who might be interested in purchasing young tarantulas — bred from her Colombian pumpkin patch tarantula — she was initially expecting to receive the amount of push-back one might expect when trying to create more spiders. Weiss said she was surprised at the number of potential buyers who contacted her.

“I have 15 people so far. A couple actually are tarantula hobbyists, like I am,” she said. “It’s not something that people normally see. I was surprised just how much positivity there was. I was expecting a lot of people to just be like, ‘That’s so nasty.’”

When asked if tarantulas are difficult pets to care for, Weiss said her fuzzy crawlers are about as low-maintenance as they come.

“I feed them a roach or a cricket once a week, and if they [require] high humidity, I mist the enclosure,” She said. “That’s pretty much it.”

Weiss said certain species of tarantula were more difficult to own and this should be taken into account by folks looking to bring one home. Tarantulas fall into two main categories: new world and old world.

New world tarantulas are easier to care for as they rely heavily on their barbed, urticating hairs as an irritating defense mechanism. These spiders generally have a less venomous bite. Old world tarantulas have a more venomous bite, no urticating hairs and are generally more difficult to handle. Weiss said she owns both types and has yet to be bitten in the two years since she first brought home a tarantula.

In addition to the new and old world tarantulas, each of these categories has numerous subspecies, leaving plenty of spiders for collectors to pursue.

“In both categories there are arboreal tarantula; there’s terrestrial tarantulas,” Weiss said. “I know people that have 500-plus in their collection. It’s just crazy.”

With previous egg sacks reaching 150 and 400 spiders, Weiss said breeding spiders can become a viable means of making money.

“It’s not really something that you can do as a full-time job, but it’s definitely something you can do on the side to make a decent amount of money,” she said.

—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com