This is unbe-weave-able!
Arachnophile Aaron Phoenix, 36, says he has amassed a collection of more than 700 pet tarantulas, making him a real-life Spider-Man. He’s developing a website, with plans to open a spider store.
“People always ask if I’m kidding when I tell them how many spiders I have — they ask if there is something wrong with me,” Phoenix, of Yate, England, told SWNS.
“But everyone has their hobby, what they like to do,” he added. “Some people like to go to the gym — and I like to collect tarantulas.”
Phoenix started accumulating arachnids in the summer of 2021 after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
He lives with his partner, Jo, 47, and her two daughters — a room in their home is designated a “tarantula cave.”
“I couldn’t give you an exact number. But I have more than 700,” Phoenix shared about his collection. “I don’t think there could ever be a limit with me — as soon as I had one, I knew I wanted more.”
The inspiration for Phoenix’s peculiar pastime comes from a pet tarantula he had as a teen but tragically had to give up.
He got into collecting when doctors told him a hobby could help his mental health.
“Even though it sounds cheesy I was born to do this,” Phoenix said. “All in all, I’ve rescued 120 spiders in the last year or so — it’s just my life, really. It’s everything to me.”
The largest spiders in the world, tarantulas can live a long time.
A female tarantula can live 20 to 25 years, while male tarantulas tend to live only seven or eight years, according to the National Park Service.
“I get quite a lot of people messaging me saying they’ve got spiders, and they don’t want them anymore,” Phoenix explained.
“I’ve also had messages from people where spiders were dumped in the street — once someone had moved out and left spiders on the street in their enclosures,” he continued.
Phoenix says his largest spider is a burgundy goliath tarantula — also known as a goliath bird-eating spider — with a leg span the size of a dinner plate.
He spends around $125 a month on substrates, cork bark, leaf litter and sphagnum moss for the spiders.
He breeds locusts and mealworms to feed them, claiming it saves around $250 a month on food costs.
“At the beginning, my partner and the kids were a bit freaked out, but they saw the positive effect it had on me immediately and became supportive,” Phoenix noted in a 2022 interview with The Sun.
Now, he says, “My partner stays out of [the tarantula cave]. She’s just happy it makes me happy.”
He recently started showing off his collection at kids’ parties, giving youngsters and parents the chance to safely experience the creepy crawlies up close.
“I have a full-time job doing house removals, but as things have developed, I’ve realized this is what I want to do,” Phoenix shared.
“My boss had a spare unit available, so I’ve been doing it up, sealing the walls, putting racking and special enclosures up, as well as heat pads and that sort of thing,” he said of his future spider store.