Simon’s Cat Scary Legs
We love Simon’s cat and this one Scary Legs really made me laugh. Many people are afraid of spiders and I have to be honest, I used to be one of them. I could barely stand to be in the same room with a spider but I never wanted to kill them. I liked to relocate them back outside and at times this took a lot of courage to accomplish. In fact, more often than not it involved deep breaths, involuntary shuddering, shivering and repeatedly telling myself to stay calm while I balanced the spider on the end of a broom or yardstick.
Gracey didn’t like spiders. She would actually come and get me or Hazel our other cat to deal with the spider. She had no interest in bugs of any kind and we never saw her play or try to eat any type of insect.
Overcoming My Fear of Spiders
My fear for spiders greatly diminished after spending time learning about a couple spiders while on a walk with our guide in Australia. I was fortunate to spend time at O’Reilly’s Rain Forest Retreat which is situated in the World Heritage Lamington National Park, in Australia’s Gold Coast Hinterland. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is a sanctuary for bird lovers and is recognized as one of the best birdwatching locations in Australia. More than 160 species of sub-tropical birds live in the surrounding rainforest.
Waking up at O’Reilly’s offered a host of sounds I had never experienced. I learned from our guide that the bird with the long drawn out whip cracking call is the Eastern Whipbird. If you want to hear this unique sound check it our here: Birds in Backyards. In addition to the Bowerbirds, Green Catbirds, and Albert’s Lyrebird, I saw Wedge-tailed Eagles and even a Tawny Frogmouth! But this post was supposed to be about spiders and I promise to get back on track now.
So, during out walk with our guide Glenn, he stopped along the path to point out a Trapdoor spider. These spiders dig burrows for shelter and feeding and they
lie in wait for passing prey which they ambush from their burrow in the blink of an eye and you guessed it, lock them in with their trap door. The trapdoor is difficult to see when closed because it is so well camouflaged due to the plant and soil material used to make it. The trapdoor is hinged on one side with silk and the spider holds on to the underside of the door with the claws on their tarsi. The prey is captured when it triggers the trip lines and the spider detects the vibrations causing it to leap out and snag the prey.
These spiders dig their burrows as juveniles and will live in that exact burrow their entire life. If the adult trapdoor’s burrow is destroyed they are unable to dig a new burrow and will die. Glenn directed us to be super careful observing and not to cause any damage to the spider’s home. Not to worry Glenn, I was keeping my distance.
Some time later along the path, Glenn pointed out a Funnel-web spider burrow. Their burrows are lined with a sock of opaque white silk and several strands of
silk radiating from the entrance. The Funnel-web spiders are some of the most deadly spiders and are found in coastal and mountain regions of eastern and southern Australia. These spiders have fangs capable of penetrating soft shoes. Prior to the introduction of antivenom, envenomation resulted in a significant number of deaths. Glenn told us that the bite of the Funnel-web spider is so painful that you might wish for death to come quickly.
In full disclosure, at this point I had my hood up and pulled tight around my head and neck and I went no where near the burrow of that Funnel-web spider. Walking on down the path with a sincere appreciation for closed toe shoes, Diane with our group said she just wasn’t sure how she felt about being in the forest with spiders smarter than us Yes, indeed. These two spiders are best admired from afar.
O’ Reilly’s promises an unforgettable experience filled with lasting memories and a renewed appreciation of nature. They certainly kept that promise.
According to Animal Planet, studies have shown that you’re never more than 10 feet away from a spider and to be “spider-free” you’d have to go into space in a fumigated capsule. Having just seen Gravity, I think I will take my chances with the spiders in our home. Here in Ohio most spiders are harmless so I continue to try to relocate them back outside. After that walk in the Australian Rainforest, I wasn’t as afraid of spiders at home. I can even get them to crawl on the end of a piece of paper and carefully place them back outside. Maybe by comparison, the local spiders just don’t seem as scary to me.
Last fall, Paul claims to have seen a giant spider in our laundry room and he was convinced that it had hitchhiked in my duffel bag from Namibia. It was winter time when I was in Namibia and I didn’t see too many spiders, but that didn’t keep me from putting my shoes in zip loc bags at night…..just in case.
How about you? Are you afraid of spiders? Is your cat afraid of spiders?
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