Wine, fruit and copper may be the best known of Chile’s exports , but Juan Pablo Orellana’s business, Andespiders, is responsible for sending a far more unusual product overseas: Chilean spiders and scorpions.
The number of pets sent by Andespiders is growing constantly, with 30 distinct species of spider and five types of scorpion finding new homes in China, Japan, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and most of all the United States, destination for 80 percent of the 20,000 pets shipped out annually.
Within the United States, Florida and California are the most popular destinations for Orellana’s octopodal pals, while in Germany they have become a subject of interest for the German Arachnalogic Society, which studies the behavior and habitat of these and other varieties of spider. Indeed the Chilean arachnids have generated so much interest in Germany that the highly-regarded news organization Deutsche Welle covered the trend in an extensive report.
The report highlighted the particular benefits of the ‘Chilean tarantulas’ – known in Chile as ‘arañas pollitos,’ or ‘little chicken spiders.’ Common to the mountains near Santiago, arañas pollitos are smaller than other tarantulas and entirely harmless. According to the Deutsche Welle report, they make “calm and faithful friends” and even “the ideal pet.”
“Maintenance is minimal, they eat once a week, they don’t make messes or noise, you can leave them alone for weeks at a time during vacations, and they live for many years,” the report continued. “Compared to dogs, they are very practical.” According to Orellana, caring for the arachnids requires no more than maintaining a temperature of 18-25 degrees C (64-77 degrees F) in the terrarium, and a little water and one or two crickets each week for sustenance.
Further, Orellana ensures that his exports pose no danger of reproducing in their new habitats. “I don’t know of any cases of adult species like the ones we export colonizing or reproducing outside Chile. They can’t survive the cold of European winters or the direct sun they’re likely to receive in the open air in North America,” Orellana says.