Mail-Order Tarantulas Can Take a Hike, the Post Office Rules-Leaving Mickey Jacobson with a Hairy Handful
updated 10/15/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/15/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Jacobson, who lives with his business partner, Julie Rotan, is on the verge of panic himself. With 1,000 ordered spiders now in inventory and another 2,000 on their way from Mexico, he is up to his neck in them. At $14.95 for the popular Mexican red leg, tarantulas are a profitable item in his pet catalogue, and if the postal service rejects his appeal of their ruling, Jacobson plans to sue.
Experts support his claim that tarantulas are less monstrous than they look (though they do carry venom). "Tarantulas are not really dangerous to man," says Larry Nienaber of the Animal Resource Center at Arizona State University. "But their bite is painful." The same, of course, could be said of dogs—and Jacobson says that many tarantula purchasers (60 percent are women) treat them just like man's best friend. "We have had customers make little leashes and collars," he reports, "so they can take them out for walks." Tarantulas do, however, have one bad habit that could solve his firm's problem—at a fearful cost. "Tarantulas are cannibalistic," he explains. "If you keep more than one to a cage, you quickly reduce the population."