Having pets is part of family life. We had a dog named ‘Midnight’, another dog ‘Buddy’. Then we had a cat, also ‘Midnight’, and then another one ‘Scuba’. My daughter had a hamster called ‘Romeo’. Wanting another pet and being an entomologist, my son decided upon the perfect pet for anyone: Mr. Bustamante.
|The spider is molting. Really cool!|
Mr. Bustamante was a rose tarantula, quite pricey as spiders go. It was huge, bigger than my splayed out hand. It had long spider legs, which moved slowly and gracefully over its web covered tank. It was blind, as all of its species are, so it operated totally on the feeling of vibrations. When a cricket was dropped into its enclosure, Mr. B. was on that thing with lightening speed. The cricket never had a chance, since every place it moved was laced with webbing, and that webbing lead Mr. B. to its unfortunate dinner.
|He is not poisonous.|
The pet store guy said that a fetal mouse would be a ‘treat’ for the spider, and something different from the crickets that we regularly tossed into the tank. So my son came home with a wriggling hairless blind pink baby mouse. He held it in the palm of his hand and we both stared down at this helpless and slightly disgusting mouse. It stretched and wiggled; it turned its blind eyes and mouth in search of food; and, it reminded me of a newborn baby, so much so that I had to leave the room.
With me out of the room, my son placed the mouse near Mr. Bustamante. Then my son waited for the joyous spider to discover his present. The thing never moved, even though the mouse was wiggling and turning over. My son nudged the mouse closer, using a ruler. Nothing happened. I came in the check on the mouse’s demise, and found my son staring quizzically at the two life forms in the tank. We both decided to let the two work things out overnight, and see the result in the morning.
In the morning, Mr. Bustamante was clinging to the screening that covered the top of its tank, while the mouse lay in its original spot, still wriggling and squirming helplessly. My son decided that perhaps the tank was too large for them to meet up. So he took Mr. Bustamante and ‘Fred-the-mouse’ out and put them into a deep bowl with steeply sloping sides. Surely this new positioning would force Mr. B. to dive right in with his fangs. Nothing happened.
Hours passed and Mr. Bustamante was motionless on top of ‘Fred’. This became too much for both of us. My son called the pet store guy, who expressed regret about this treat not working out, but he couldn’t take the mouse back. He told my son to kill the mouse and throw it away. My son turned ashen, as he has a sensitive soul, and asked how to do that painlessly. “Put it in a baggie, and then in the freezer. The thing will go to sleep, and then freeze to death.” My son reluctantly followed these directions, and after many hours, buried ‘Fred’ in the backyard next to the late hamster Romeo.
Neither of us ever really recovered from this experience, and we don’t talk of it much. Some things are just too painful.
Many thanks to Arlee Bird, Jeffrey Beesler, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Jen Daiker, Candace Ganger, Karen J. Gowen, Talli Roland, and Stephen Tremp. You are all brave people. Link to the following link to check out other entries!