A mini, and quite hairy, adventure

This week’s mini adventure didn’t include any mountains, camping, or self-sufficiency.

This week’s mini adventure was small, hairy and many-legged.

We went to Butterfly & Insect World at Dobbies Garden Centre near Dalkeith. If you’ve never been then it is a big green house full of tropical plants and some gigantic free-flying butterflies. If you are in any way creeped out by insects then you will find it a little unnerving. There are more earth-bound animals on display, from tortoises to giant hissing cockroaches. It’s all very educational and entertaining. The best part was the handling session where the staff bring out some of the animals and let you get very close indeed. They had giant millipedes and snakes, both of which we all got to hold. Then they brought out two Chilean Rose tarantulas. They were both female and so not given to wandering about by nature. In fact in the wild they would probably live down a short burrow for most of their lives and rarely venture much further than to the opening to grab a passing cricket.

This one was as big as my hand, which is where I was invited to put her.

Now, I don’t mind spiders as a rule. They’re very useful things to have around, and are gruesomely entertaining when they catch something and wrap it up to eat it. They have their place, but it is not usually in my hand. My daughter had happily handled the giant millipede and the snake but was far less certain about the giant hairy spider and so I did what any dad would do and, gritting my teeth, held my hand out. My hand was filled by the giant hairy beast. She just stood there calmly and tolerated my bothering her without sinking her fangs into me (apparently it would be less than a bee sting!) and without spraying me with her urticating hairs.

It did the trick and my daughter held the spider as well, leading her to be very pleased with herself. Meanwhile my body was flushed with adrenalin and I had to go and have a cup of tea. I don’t think I will go seeking spiders to hold but perhaps it will go some way towards being less freaked out by other arthropods. It might take a little bit more for me to hold a centipede


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