Dennis. Not a menace. Yet.

This is Dennis, the new Montanez family pet and yes, I’m going to keep that picture up there until I write a new post and you’re going to probably get all [shudder] about that and I’m going to be all MWAH-HAHAHAH about that.

Dennis gave me heebie jeebies the entire first week he lived in the house. I’d obsessively check his terrarium to be certain he couldn’t lift the lid off and scurry away in the cover of night to crawl up on my sleeping person and into my ear canal where he would lay eggs (dare you to click that). My husband is convinced Dennis is a female. I don’t know how he could know that. Maybe Dennis got bitchy with him and then refused to tell him what was wrong, instead answering with the dreaded, “I’m fine,” or the even worse, “I’m going to my mother’s.”

When we first got Dennis, the lady at Petco said, “And be sure to latch the lid because they often crawl up the glass–” and I said, “HE CAN CRAWL UP THE GLASS?!” The Petco lady looked at me like a tarantula just crawled out of my ear.  My husband said, “Did you not get the Spiderman movies at all?”

I had nightmares about Dennis regularly. Dennis escaping. Dennis crawling up my chest like that episode of the Brady Bunch where they go to Hawaii and a tarantula crawls on Peter’s chest. That’s all I remember about that episode. The tarantula. And the screaming. Oh god, the screaming.

I gave myself several feet of leeway around the terrarium every time I entered my son’s room to clean. His room would be spotless except for a three-foot radius around the tank. A rat could have made himself a nest in that three-foot radius and I’d have been all, “Well, maybe we’ll luck out and Dennis will eat the rat. Otherwise, welcome to your new home, rat.”

I couldn’t make direct eyes-contact with Dennis. I only looked NEAR Dennis. To his left. To his right. Over his shoulder. At his feet. Looking Dennis in one of his eight eyes meant Dennis would see my fear and find a way to burst through the glass of the terrarium and eat my face off like he was on bath salts.

I couldn’t be in the room during feeding time. Dennis likes to stalk the crickets. Lets them get away at first to give them tiny cricket hope, and then when the cricket says to itself, “Whew. I think I lost him,” Dennis leaps across the tank with the element of surprise and the cricket looks up and is like, “Motherf–“.

Dennis is an asshole to the crickets.

Now that it has been two weeks and forty shots of tequila, I kinda like the little guy. He’s cute. Fuzzy. I care that he has the right humidity in his tank and so if it gets low, I give his tank a little squirt of water and Dennis comes out of his log to feel the rain and he smiles at me … his Goddess That Brings the Rain.

I check on him each night, not to make sure he hasn’t escaped, but to make sure he seems healthy and happy. AND to make sure he hasn’t escaped.

I remind my son to feed him because I don’t want Dennis to be hungry.

I no longer run from the room when Dennis decides to do something terrifying, like move one of his legs.

I’m not completely over my fear of him though because yesterday I went to check on him and when I walked in the room, there resting on the carpeted floor in front of his terrarium was a giant rubber spider my daughter had left there and I thought Dennis had escaped and that he was lying in wait for me so that he could leap up and eat my face off. I screamed and I did not stop shaking for a good thirty minutes and then I was like, “I’m going to my mother’s.”

I still haven’t looked him in the eyes. Or the mouth. [shudder]

And God help me when he molts. (I double dare you to click that link.)

Because there will be screaming.

Oh, God. the screaming.


  1. Julia
    August 10, 2012 12:25 pm

    Um, I wouldn’t care how many times my stepson would ask for a tarantula as a pet, or how nicely, I would NEVER get him a freaking spider. I might suggest a nice goldfish or something, except that our cat would probably find a way to eat the thing within the first week.

    Kudos to you for being a brave mom though!

  2. red pen mama
    August 10, 2012 12:50 pm

    I am curious as to how big Dennis is. Because, I’m sorry, I’m imagining him as big as one of my hands, and eff to the effing eff no would I have such a large, fuzzy spider in my house willingly. I… was it a reward for the kid? Was it a compromise of some sort? I’m just curious as to how the conversation went, because I can’t imagine saying “Yes” to the question, “Hey, mom, can I please have a tarantula?” Unless there were extraordinary conditions. I may be short on imagination today.

    Also, your husband’s comment to you, re: Spiderman, made me laugh.

    • Butcher's Dog
      August 10, 2012 1:19 pm

      I’m wondering about the “why” part as well. Whose idea was this? Son’s? Counseling may be in order. Hubby’s? I don’t think any of us want to go there. Spiders and snakes aren’t really my idea of pets, regardless of the circumstances. Just sayin’.

  3. Virginia
    August 10, 2012 8:09 pm

    The why, for those who asked. My son has been begging me for a pet for a long time now and I don’t want to get another dog until our current dog dies because he’s old and I don’t think he could handle a puppy. We can’t have cats due to allergies. Fish die within days of being in our house. We just suck at fish.

    Hermit crabs die like [snap] that in general. You take them home and their claws just start falling off and stuff.

    He wanted a snake. I rejected that idea. Because snakes can eat babies. Natch.

    He wanted a lizard. They require ridiculous habitats and temperatures and they live for 35 years and can grow to be quite sizable.

    Birds. Live forever. He’d have to take it to college with him.

    Ferrets. God no.

    Rabbits. Too much poop.

    Hamsters/gerbils. Smelly. Poopy. High maintenance.

    That pretty much left us with spiders.

    The tarantula, when its legs are spread out, yeah, it’s a bit bigger than the palm of a man’s hand, but when it is standing normally, no bigger than the bottom of a coffee cup. It eats once maybe twice a week. It doesn’t poop or pee anything discernable. It will only live five to ten years max. It won’t grow much bigger at all. It doesn’t really need much by way of temperature control. No daily or even weekly/monthly cleaning of the tank. It doesn’t require interaction or love or anything because tarantulas just like to be left alone.

    AKA THE PERFECT PET. Once you get past the fact that it’s a huge hairy spider.

    • LeeInIrwin
      August 10, 2012 11:17 pm

      Hi, Virginia – Congratulations on the new family member! We have a rose-hair tarantula also. Her name is of course, Rosie and she is now about 8 1/2 years old. If you have a female, they live to be about 15 (max). If you show a picture of your Dennis spread out, I’ll be able to tell you if it’s a Dennis or a Denise. Don’t worry about him escaping – although he’ll crawl up the glass, if you have a screen on top he can’t get out. And the older they get, the more stationary they get. Kind of like an 8 legged turtle just sitting there. When he does molt, he’ll be on his back – that’s how you’ll know he’s not dead. Then his empty duplicate will be laying there when he’s done. My kids have taken the ’empty spider’ for show and tell and it’s always a hit. But don’t handle it (or your live spider for that matter) too much as he has irritating hairs that he uses for defense.
      You’re right when you say they are low maintenance. And I hope your squeamishness subsides and you worry less and less. Pretty soon you’ll be looking him in the eyes and he’ll be your new BFF….no? OK – but maybe, at least, you won’t run out of the room….

    • red pen mama
      August 13, 2012 1:39 pm

      Fair enough! My girls are begging for a pet now, too. The fish we have, while pretty, are “boring”. Plus, my younger daughter makes a real mess when she pets them. No, I’m not joking. We’ve done a similar checklist: no puppy, because I am not done with human poop yet, and no freaking dog is getting me up in the middle of the night to go pee outside. I’ve potty trained two out of three humans so far (presumably I’ll potty train the boy, too, in another 18 months). Done. With. Poop. The girls need to be able to take care of the next pet we get. On their own. (Why, yes, I am delusional, why do you ask.) I am allergic to cats, so no cat. We explored the possibility of a rabbit, and decided we are not a good household for a rabbit (see: younger daughter). I’d do a gerbil or hamster, but again: the girls have to do most of the heavy lifting. So that could end up being super smelly. They aren’t interested in lizards or spiders. They’d go for a bird, but no. Birds live too long and are dirty, dirty animals.

      I suspect we’ll have a dog in the next three years.

      • Butcher's Dog
        August 13, 2012 1:58 pm

        Gerbils and hamsters tend to be nocturnal, which means they’re on that damn squeaky wheel most of the night. Just sayin’ from experience. Once the dog is housebroken s/he won’t need to go in the middle of the night, although being regular in your daily routine helps keep them the same way. And if one human year is equal to seven years for the dog, that means one day is equal to a week and one hour is equal to seven hours. Could be one explanation why the dog is always happy to see you regardless of the circumstances.

  4. steelertom
    August 10, 2012 9:41 pm

    Hey there is NO WAY A spider & I are living under the same roof! hold on a sec,…… I’ll get my Ruger Blackhawk.357 Mag & send that thing back to hell for ya!

  5. Angela
    August 12, 2012 10:50 pm

    LOVE! I was all aww-y and when husband asked what I was looking at I was all, “Dennis!” *clueless look from husband* “Is that the shark?” (I’m watching shark week.) “Nooo! He’s the Montanez’s tarantula!” I really want about eleventy bajillion exotic pets and husband keeps saying no. I would adore a tarantula, snake, lizard, alligator, otter, penguin, red panda, sand cat, ya know, the fun stuff. I had to beg for three years and bawl my eyes out to get my dog, so this will likely never happen. I’ll live vicariously through Dennis updates. And I watched the molting video and cheered the little fuzzer on!

  6. Monty
    August 14, 2012 9:40 am

    There is a youtube video tutorial on “sexing a tarantula.”

    I am happy to report that those words do not mean what I thought they meant.

  7. Trish
    August 17, 2012 3:25 pm

    Late to the party but what the hell–when I was a kid my brother, the oldest at 12, took it upon himself to buy a tarantula for a pet, with the necessary equipment. The tarantula’s name was Daisy. My mother, who absolutely loathed spiders, told him he could have it as long as it never left his room. Daisy was rather a resourceful tarantula–I can assure LeeInIrwin that tarantulas CAN move screens–and made her escape one day when my brother left his room door open. That day my sisters and I were met by my frantic brother, and even though we were grossed out we gamely searched for Daisy, with no luck. When my mother came home from work I’m fairly sure my brother was curled in a corner reciting Hail Marys. She put her stuff away and went into the kitchen to make dinner. A kitchen cabinet door had been left open and there Daisy was, hanging on top of a can of tomatoes. My mother, a big woman, seized the can, threw Daisy on the kitchen floor, and stomped on her. Did you know tarantulas explode when stomped upon? Now you do. My brother was made to clean up a ton of blood and tarantula parts.

    May Dennis not meet the same fate as Daisy.

  8. Janelle
    August 20, 2012 6:13 pm

    I think I made it 30 seconds into that video. Clicking that link is my only regret in life.