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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lawyers Who Milk Tarantulas

Photo by slgckgc

Earlier this week while waiting for the morning school bus my ten-year-old daughter announced that when she grows up she wants to be a lawyer and a tarantula milker.
Yeah. There are all kinds of jokes in there. Have at, and I’d love to see what you come up with in the comments below.
After I mentally processed my middle child’s statement, I asked her the obvious question: “Why in the world would you want to be a lawyer?”
‘Cause she explained the tarantula-milking thing to me. It’s evidently an uncommonly lucrative job. Tarantula venom sells on the order of $1,000.00/gram. I’m not sure how many grams of juice one can wring out of a single tarantula, but my daughter is pretty tenacious and doesn’t let go of anything till she gets what she wants from it.
Well, hey. There is a commonality between lawyers and tarantula milkers, huh?*
[PHOBIA TRIGGER WARNING: There is a picture of a tarantula further down this page.]
I tried following up on my child’s research, and discovered the Tarantula Forum, a place where people go to discuss—you guessed it—tarantulas. In fact, one gentleman posted the following query on February 25, 2014:
“What's up guys! Glad to be on the forum. I have a question for you all. Does anyone know how I would go about getting into supplying tarantula (non-lethal extraction) venom for pharmaceutical laboratories and such? I am already getting ready to start up a small scale breeding project, however, I would enjoy taking the hobby a bit further. Thank you for all replies!”
As of this writing, however, there are no replies.
And hang on a second—he’s “getting ready to start up a small scale breeding project”? All I can say is I hope he lives alone. And that he’s seen the genesis of Spiderman. And that his house is many, multiple millions of miles away from mine. Because I like arachnid-type creatures only slightly better than I like Beelzebub and Brazilian bikini waxes.
Which brings us to another problem. My daughter intends to live with me forever. It’s a sweet deal here, after all. She may have to do her own laundry, but I provide the front-loading washer and dryer, and I pay the water bill, and I supply all the detergent she needs. Though I expect some assistance in the kitchen, the meal planning and the groceries come via Mom. And it took my husband and me three college degrees, over a decade of work, and eight years of marriage to move our way up into a four-bedroom, single-family home. Not many fledglings start out with a yard and a flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi. I hate to use the word parasite, but that does aptly describe people who live off the fat of others.
Look at that! Another similarity between lawyers and tarantula milkers.*
But though I may consent to sharing my digs with a non-launching child for some number of years, I refuse to house anything that has more legs than a cat. Call me kooky, that’s just a non-negotiable policy of mine. So if the girl expects to start her own furry little farm of creepy-crawlies, she’s going to have to strike out on her own.
When I mentioned my daughter’s life-plan to a friend of mine she asked, “How do you milk a tarantula, anyway?”
I said, “I assume they must have tiny little udders.”
But, no. That’s actually not how it works.
The U.K. Daily Mail ran an article online about the procedure, along with this picture:
Photo from U.K. Daily Mail
You know, I do feel kind of sorry for the little beast. Look at it, draped over the collecting receptacle like a mugging victim flattened against the wall in a back alley. Or a nerdy kid getting worked over by the school bully. Or the witness in a murder trial under cross-examination by a pin-stripe-suited mafia thug defense attorney.
Hmm. There’s that lawyer again.*
But honestly, it seems like a useful and honorable profession. (Tarantula milking, I mean.) It serves the scientific community and supports the development of treatments for pain. It doesn’t seem to harm the tarantulas, which is more than I can say for what might happen to one if it ever turned up inside my four walls. And I can’t imagine there are lots of people signing up for that gig.
So in the interest of supporting my daughter’s professional choices, I leave you with my best effort for a lawyer/tarantula-milker joke:
What’s the difference between a lawyer and a tarantula milker? One wrests valuable material from a splayed-out creature who is helpless to resist the extraction, and the other milks tarantulas.*

*Apologies to all my friends who are lawyers. You know I love you, and I even have some of you on speed-dial in case I ever end up on trial for that thing…



  1. At least you didn't post a picture of a lawyer! Whew. But how poetic to have careers that are metaphors for each other.

    1. Oh, I have standards. A picture of a lawyer is just going too far. Even I know that.