Good News: Loose Tarantula That Freaked Out Petco Shopper Was Just A Shed Exoskeleton

Last week, we shared a reader’s story of encountering a cool spider just hanging out on a cart in the middle of the store while shopping at Petco. Yes, Petco does sell tarantulas, but they live in habitats. Are spiders really supposed to just hang out on the cleaning cart while their habitats are cleaned?

Here’s what reader David saw in the store:

spidercart

As it turns out, no, they aren’t. “Our policy is that the animal should be contained in a specific carrier during cleaning, so we are following up with the store,” a Petco spokesperson explained to Consumerist when we sent over the photos. Today, they sent us a fascinating update to the story: the “spider” on the cart wasn’t a spider at all. It was a shed spider skin.

This might be obvious to experienced tarantula-keepers, but the problem is that most people wandering through pet stores are not experienced tarantula-keepers. Reader David, the person in the Petco, knew enough to speculate that the skin might be a molt, but he still ran away.

Here’s a shed skin from a baby tarantula. Here’s the underside of a molt, showing the fuzzy exoskeleton and how the animal is able to wriggle its legs out of the skin. Here’s a tarantula side by side with a molted skin: you may start to see where the confusion comes in.

Petco checked with David’s local store, and found out that the “spider” starring in this story was indeed a molt. While it’s good to hear that no pets were ever sitting around loose, we’d recommend that pet store employees stash molts somewhere other than the edge of the cleaning cart where it can frighten or confuse shoppers.

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Shopper Spots Loose Tarantula On Cleaning Cart At Petco, Freaks Out