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Spiders by post – that’s got to be cruel, hasn’t it?

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

In a bizarre news item, the BBC reports:

A man has admitted sending a rare venomous spider in a package to a colleague at work. Mahlon Hector, 22, of Leicester delivered the Mexican red-kneed tarantula in a box addressed to a Marks & Spencer branch in Leicestershire. Hector handed in his resignation after dropping off the parcel at the Fosse Park store.

Mexican red-kneed tarantula

Now that’s curious enough. Curiouser still, however:

A Leicestershire Police spokesman said: “The spider may also have suffered and we would have pursued the matter under animal cruelty legislation but it does not cover invertebrates.”

How crazy is that? Just look at that cute, furry spider and imagine it being shaken up in a box for some weird practical joke! What if it was one of those sweet little grey squirrels, or rats? People would be marching in the streets, probably led by Sir Paul McCartney. Well, the spider was probably OK, but the Ranger is very fond of spiders, and was startled to learn that there’s no way in law to be cruel to invertebrates. Perhaps there’s room for one more pressure group? No more flyswats! Ban the beer-trap! Calamari and prawns will be off the menu when the Invertebrate Cruelty Act is finally passed…

First published 2006. Republished with corrections 2013.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

5 thoughts on “Spiders by post – that’s got to be cruel, hasn’t it?

  • Dave

    I was reading a load of rubbish about Steatoda borealis on the ABC News online about “Spiders invade British school: Experts blame climate change for a huge rise in the number of venomous spiders in England.” (
    A google of the spider turns up one of your blog posts from 2 May 2007 about a similar beat-up. Good to see that your blog is still going strong.

  • Richard

    More ridiculous sensationalism in the media I see!

    The Mexican Red Knee (Brachypelma smithi) may be CITIES listed but thousands of them are captive bred every year all round the world – including the UK. The issue is more habitat destruction than anything else and populations are more stable than ever in captivity – hence I think “rare” may be overstating the case. After all, the individual is almost certain to be captive-bred and furthermore wouldn’t be released back into the wild.

    Secondly, calling it “venomous” makes it sound like the tarantula was harmful to human health – or even deadly. Infact, as someone who has been bitten by a tarantula before the “venom” is really less harmful and painful than a bee-sting for this species.

    I’m not commenting on the “posting” issue in any way – though I know it goes on – but rather a disappointment not only in the BBC but also this blog for reacting as the media always seems to when TARANTULAS are mentioned. Shame we can’t have a rather more educated and measured approach to these beautiful arachnids.

  • Rowan

    Yup, just been reading about Animal Welfare Act 2006 today and only backboned animals seem to be acceptable for consciousness. Still got a way to go.
    (At least the spider tortured by the fake Moody in the film of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was a CGI stand-in.)

  • Erin kent

    ewwww i cant stand spiders i dont care if he steped on it!!!

  • WiccanSpirit

    Hi, wow that was quite a story! I hope that the little critter wasn’t harmed. I love tarantulas, my sister had quite a few growing up.


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