CHALK Tarantula

Everyone's strangeness comes out in different ways. Maybe it's in in clothes. Maybe it's in music. Maybe it's in their extensive anime Blu-ray collection. But we're looking for people who express their weirdness in their choice of animal companions — and it can get wild.

We spoke to Stephen DeHart, a senior from Olathe studying biology, who owns a pet tarantula. A scary, furry, pet tarantula. Stephen... Why?

What kind of tarantula is it?

It's an Indian ornamental tarantula.

What's its name?

You can make a name up for it, if you want. "Sparky."

Is it a boy or a girl?

I have no idea. It's not an adult, so you can kind of tell when they're adults.

What do tarantulas eat?


Where did you get it?

Pet World, here in Lawrence.

When was that?

A year ago.

Do your parents know about it?


What do they think?

They don't really care.

Does your roommate know?

I think so.

Does your landlord know?


What do your friends think?

Most of them think it's kind of cool, but most of them don't want me to take it out of the cage. 

Why don't you handle it?

Any tarantulas that are from the old world are pretty much really skittish and aggressive. This one in particular is an arboreal species, which means it's very quick. And they also will bite.

What's the appeal of pets like this?

I really like spiders. I took a class last year called Biology of Spiders, and that really gave me an appreciation for their biology and their behavior and everything. It's just kind of interesting to observe.

Do you have emotional attachment to this animal?

I don't have a lot of emotional attachment to it. I'd be sad if it died, but, like I said, I haven't named it. It is kind of like a specimen.

Know someone with an unconventional pet? Get in touch on social media, or at