RICHARD ORD: Legless horror is edging the Ord family animal terror race

Spiders ... what's not to love?Spiders ... what's not to love?
Spiders ... what's not to love?
While scientists and religious scholars argue over the true origin of spiders, we must learn to live with these ungodly aliens.

As our exceptionally hot but typically short summer is brought to an abrupt halt by a week of depressing rain, so chez Ord has been inundated with the eight-legged critters.

Fortunately, these days, I am more relaxed about their insane lolloping gait and threatening demeanour. After much research of scientific papers and poring over arachnid behavioural theses, I have come to accept that spiders haven’t ‘got it in for me.’

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The pioneering work of the world’s leading spider expert Australian arachnologist Robert John Raven, Head of Terrestrial Biodiversity and the Senior Curator (Arachnida) at Queensland Museum, was very helpful. In particular, his groundbreaking research paper entitled “Spiders, they haven’t got it in for you, honest!”

Anyway, my current partner (The German) is relaxed in their company (spiders, not necessarily Australians), but insists on them being removed from the house.

I don’t know where she gets this idea from, but she insists that if and when spiders are removed from my flat they have to be deposited in the nearby park!

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, if you don’t,” she said, “they’ll just come straight back in again.”

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I’ve heard this before, but don’t believe it’s based on any scientific evidence. What does she think they are, homing spiders?!?

I mention the spiders only because my youngest son had vowed never to travel to Australia because, in his words, “of the spiders.” He thinks they can be found under every toilet seat in the country.

His 19-year-old cousin has just returned from a gap-year in Oz and we visited him for last week to hear about his adventures. And it gave me the opportunity to dispel the myth that Australia was all spiders and dangerous wild animals.

“Go on Oliver, tell our Isaac he’s got nothing to be scared about,” I said. And so followed a series of anecdotes about giant spiders on a banana farm that pretty much ensured our Isaac was never going to backpack around Australia … or possibly ever eat a banana again.

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But the spider, courtesy of his cousin, was the least of his worries.

Oliver told us how his girlfriend’s cat went missing for a few days. An obvious concern for her pet-loving family who were scouring the nearby bushland to locate it.

A photograph he shared with us revealed the good and bad news. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Good news: We’ve found the cat. Bad news: It’s about halfway down the intestinal tract of a python…

The cat-shaped lump in the centre of the python ensured that spiders are currently running a distant second behind snakes in the Ord’s animal fear game.

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