We bought a tarantula but had to sell him because he scared our housemates

Originally published in February 2015 on The Tab Durham

He can skateboard

Pets in student houses are a hairy issue and that’s ignoring the whole issue of what kind of pet it is. A goldfish, sure, your housemates might put up with that. A much beloved stray cat or dog might be accepted into the fold, as long as they don’t interrupt student life.

But a massive spider? Or, to be more precise, a “Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula”? Definitely not.

As two Durham second years discovered when they impulsively bought a tarantula online, they aren’t quite as easy to deal with as traditional pets.

Tom Pawley told us how his experience meeting Fluffy for the first time was totally different to most people’s experience of bonding with a new pet. “The postman just turned up to our house with a standard looking parcel, he clearly had no idea there was a fucking tarantula inside it,” he says.

“I kind of felt bad for him, but we were shit scared too.

“He came in like a takeaway inside a standard delivery box too. It was super weird. Poor spider had no idea what was going on.”

“It took us a solid twenty minutes to get him from the box into his enclosure, using tongs and various other kitchen utensils to avoid actually having to put our hands anywhere near him. Lots of screaming was involved too!”

They were aware that their housemates were seriously unlikely to bond with Fluffy as they had and plotted a way to keep their new found buddy.

“We kept him hidden in the house over the whole weekend too, we were trying to strategise a technique as to how we could make our housemates warm to him, but it turns out it’s not so easy to get people to establish an emotional connection with a massive venomous tarantula.

“Naming him Fluffy was part of our attempt to de-criminalise him.”

Sadly calling the spider Fluffy didn’t make things any easier for Tom and James’ housemates.
“Initial reactions were those of surprise and confusion, this quickly turned into anger, followed by hysteria, as the realisation of an actual housemate inhabiting house set in, one housemate even vomited.

“Any attempts to try and defuse the situation were both desperate and futile, and within the hour we were given the ultimatum.”

In the wake of Fluffy’s eviction, desperate attempts ensued to sell the poor creature on the popular Facebook group “Overheard at Durham Uni“.

The post was much more developed than the average For Sale ad. As well as a written description of Fluffy’s possessions (a “house, food and friendly banter”), there was a video of him to allow prospective new owners to see him in action.

On the Facebook post, which now has over five hundred likes, one of Fluffy’s owners James Hudson declared that the pet was “one of those online impulse purchases”.

Fluffy was purchased on the day of the Facebook post and with Fluffy now sent to his new owners, James Hudson and Tom Pawley have released a statement: “It’s been a stressful and difficult few days since our separation from Fluffy. Due to the emotional trauma that ensued, James and I have both had to contact various members of university staff to seek extensions on our summative deadlines.

“We are consoled only by the knowledge that Fluffy is a strong independent spider and can take forth the knowledge that we gave him, to venture into the world and be the best tarantula he can be.”

Tom also offered reassurance to those who fear tarantulas: “I think most people would adapt if given the chance to just hold one for a few minutes. We were literally just as fearful of spiders as any other person at first but he was so chilled out we just sort of got used to him. It turned out he was actually a pretty cool guy.”

At the bargain price of thirty pounds “or highest bidder” it can’t help be wondered whether the new owner of Fluffy also made an impulse buy of their own.

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