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Arthropods: Creepy Crawly or Cute and Cuddly?

millipede

A Millipede can have up to 400 legs…WHY?!

Throughout history, people have tried to domesticate any and every animal in order to have them as a pet. Most of them are furry and cute, so it’s a no-brainer to want them as a companion animal to pet, cuddle, and love. However, some of them are a little on the creepy side, and most of these questionable pets are Arthropods – a group of insects, arachnids, and crustaceans that are known for having tough outer skins called exoskeletons (and usually claws or fangs, YIKES). Needless to say, you may find yourself confused as to why anyone would want to own these animals as pets. Heck, some of these creatures are so odd-looking, you will probably wonder why someone would voluntarily have them anywhere near them! While I love all animals, I definitely draw the line when it comes to creepy crawlies – but kudos to you if you’re willing to open your home to one of these creatures:

  1. Tarantula – It takes a special kind of person to enjoy spiders, and it takes an even more special of a person to willingly keep (and care for) one in their house. To many, “huge spider” is nightmare-inducing, but to many others, it means “pet.” What makes them so appealing? Well, there are tons of different species that hail from many different continents, and therefore have different personalities (spiders have personalities, apparently), temperaments, colors, patterns, and other attributes. Tarantulas from our continent of North America tend to be less venomous and aggressive (phew) than other species found in the rest of the world, and there are certain species that are widely accepted as the most “pet-worthy.” They usually do not bite unless provoked, and even if they do it supposedly isn’t as horrific as you’d think. While their merit as a pet seems to be one of pure morbid curiosity, they at least have hair so they could be considered cuddly…? If you are into that kind of thing, check out this list of suggestions for the beginning Tarantula owner. FINAL VERDICT: KINDA CUTE and PERHAPS CUDDLY?

    tarantula

    It’s kinda like a hamster, just with way more legs and eyes…?

  2. Hermit Crabs – Probably the cutest creature on this list, Hermit Crabs are commonly kept as pets by children whose parents won’t let them own anything else. This is because they are seemingly low maintenance, extremely quiet, and pose little to no danger to humans. The truth is that they are actually quite sensitive little creatures that demand fresh water, enough space to climb and burrow, and properly moist substrate (such as sand) otherwise they will have a short lifespan in captivity. They also are well-known for needing several different sized shells for when they outgrow their current one. A common problem that results in accidental deaths, is that owners do not put the necessary amount of substrate in the habitat, which the crab needs for burrowing when it is molting for a period of up to 3 months! Unfortunately many novices think that “they are just crabs,” so they do not care to go through the proper precautions when setting up their home and maintaining it for their proper survival. In my opinion, they are very cute, have interesting personalities, and can become quite a nice little buddy! If you are thinking of becoming a Hermit Crab owner, check out this page in order to educate yourself about the importance of proper substrate usage. FINAL VERDICT: CUTE – and can be made even cuter with customized and decorated SHELLS!

    hermitcrab

    “My shell is so boring…how about something with a little more pizzazz?”

  3. Ants – While most people agree that having ant infestations in or around your home is a complete and utter annoyance, it is a completely different thing entirely to keep them as pets. While ant farms used to be really trendy a few decades ago, they seem to have fallen by the wayside along the likes of Sea Monkeys and Pet Rocks. They are the least threatening on this list due to how insanely tiny they are, although certain species bite! Having a few of them inside an ant farm, aquarium, fishbowl, or whatever empty container you have can be a very interesting and fun little experiment. Just add some dirt and/or sand, and some ants (the most common “pet” species being Harvester ants), and feed it a steady supply of  fruit, vegetables, birdseed or the white of a boiled egg along with small amounts of water delivered through an eye dropper. They are an extremely social species, with a very intriguing hierarchy system (similar to bees and wasps), so they are definitely an Arthropod worth observing at least once in your life! FINAL VERDICT: CUTEants“We mustn’t upset the QUEEN!”
  4. Cockroaches – With a similarly horrible reputation as rats, cockroaches are usually thought of as disgusting pests that carry disease and indicate extreme filth. While this can definitely be true (as is the case with rats and mice as well), there are actually many species that are not pests whatsoever. In fact, only about 5 out of over 2,000 species are actual pests, and most of the species are quite intelligent and worthy of being kept as a pet. They are extremely resilient – they can survive up to 45 minutes without breathing any air, and can go without eating for a long time. Their food consists of ground up dog food, grain, or pre-made roach food. They don’t bite, so they don’t pose any real danger except you should definitely wash your hands after handling them. The most popular species kept as pets is the Hissing Cockroach, which people have even adorned with rhinestones and glitter. If you are looking for an extremely easy-maintenance pet as part of a science classroom or experiment, cockroaches may be the right choice! FINAL VERDICT: CUTE  

    cockroach

    Kinda cute, right?

  5. Centipedes/Millipedes – While they are both completely different organisms, most people lump them together because they both have way more legs than the average creature. Centipedes are definitely the more aggressive of the two, often biting or pinching when it feels threatened (which is quite often). They are also carnivores that hunt larger organisms such as bats, mice, roaches, and others. They are also scary-looking, cannibalistic, move very fast (too fast, if you ask me), and if they escape – good luck finding them! Millipedes on the other hand, are very docile, harmless, and slow-moving creatures that are safe for children to handle. They have way more legs than Centipedes, but are way less creepy because they eat decaying vegetables instead of other creatures, and they can be kept in groups. They are very chill, easy-going creatures who enjoy some nice, damp rotting vegetation – while centipedes are bloodthirsty killers who are high-strung and scary. I think it’s clear that Millipedes are the better option here… FINAL VERDICT: Centipedes are CREEPY and Millipedes are CUTE

    centipede

    NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE.

  6. Scorpion – The only creature on this list more terrifying than a Centipede, is a Scorpion – which is an equally anti-social, aggressive pet to own. Holding a Scorpion isn’t advised, even if it isn’t venomous, because they are easily defensive and will definitely strike you with its stinger. The good news is that only about 30 out of over 2,000 species have potent enough venom to kill a human, but that’s hardly any consolation seeing as how they are horrific. Don’t get me wrong, you have every right in the world to want to own one (or a few) if that’s your interest, but I’d rather let several Tarantulas and Cockroaches crawl all over my body than have a Scorpion anywhere near me. They literally will sting you if you hold them, so all you can do really is observe them and make sure they have a steady feeding of crickets or roaches as well as some fresh water. FINAL VERDICT: CREEPY and also SCARY

    scorpion

    Does this look cute to you?!

Obviously these judgments are based on my own personal evaluation of the creature itself based on what it looks like, how it behaves as a pet, and what kind of care it requires. There are other Arthropods that are commonly kept as pets, such as the Walking Stick, Preying Mantis, and several different types of Beetles. I honestly prefer furry critters when it comes to pet ownership, but I have to admit that the Hermit Crab is super adorable and even the Cockroach would be an interesting pet to try. There is absolutely no way that I would ever own a Scorpion or a Centipede, because they are not only nightmarish, but they don’t like being handled and they are aggressive. There are many different types of Arthropods, so if you’re looking for an unusual pet to own, I’m sure you can find one out of the several thousand different species!

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