Monday, October 1, 2012

An Arachnophobe’s Guide to Spiders (A.K.A. “Is it dangerous!?”)

Most people do not go on safari hoping to see spiders and other “creepy-crawlies”.  In fact, most people won’t give spiders a second thought until they find one in their shower or under their bed.  Unfortunately, unless you live in a sterile, sealed box, you will most likely have spiders around you almost all the time.  Many of them are tiny and you probably won’t notice 95% of them, but every once in a while you see one that makes your skin crawl (especially those big nasty hairy ones).  At this point you’ve got a few options (depending on how paralyzed with fear you are).    You can: (A) freeze and scream, waiting for someone more capable to deal with it; (B) kill it; or (C) get closer, identify it, and admire it for its inherent beauty.  Option “C” is probably NOT the first thing you’d think of doing, but once you realize that spiders are not “out to get you”, you can learn to relax around them. 

As with snakes, the fear of spiders is often the fear of the unknown.  However, as with snakes, most spiders are completely harmless, and indeed beneficial to all of us.  If all the spiders on the earth were to just magically disappear, we would all be drowning in a sea of insects!  And in Kenya, there are hardly ANY dangerous spiders that you will ever have to worry about.  Bites from dangerous spiders are VERY uncommon, and serious effects from those bites are even less likely. 

This blog/guide is not meant to be an exhaustive photographic list of all the spiders in Kenya (there are literally thousands of them), but rather a simple guide to representatives of the most common families that one is likely to encounter while on safari (or in some suburbs of Nairobi). 
See subsequent posts for more details/photos.

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