Ames IA (AP) – Baby tarantulas have invaded Iowa State University.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service donated 169 confiscated tarantulas and offered them to the school in Ames this month.
The tarantulas, some not much bigger than a fingernail, arrived on Valentine’s Day and were carefully unboxed by university’s Insect Zoo staff and student workers.
The school said ten of the tarantulas went to its 17-acre property, called Reiman Gardens. The rest will be raised in the Insect Zoo until they get bigger.
Ginny Mitchell, Insect Zoo education program coordinator, said she hopes to keep half of the tarantulas at Iowa State, where they’ll join other venomous species of spiders and scorpions as permanent zoo residents. The other half will be offered to other zoos when they are big enough.
Tarantulas are among many animals trafficked in the illegal pet trading industry.
“Many animals, such as tarantulas, are collected in the wild and sent to other countries for the pet industry. When animals are taken out of the wild, it reduces the general population and gene pool which can lead to the decimation of the species,” she said.