Creepy & Crawly 365 Days a Year
MATTHEWS, N.C. -You won't find clothes or shoes inside the bins in Michael Tapales' walk-in closet. The containers hold hundreds of snakes and tarantulas. "About 300," says Tapales.
He breeds and sells the animals from his home. His neighbors have no idea. "No, we just moved in about a month ago," he says.
Tapales says "Arachna Culture" is big across the US, and growing in Charlotte. He says, "It's fun and for the sake of preservation." "Peach" and "Lizzy" are two of his favorite spiders. And there are the babies, which sell for about $8 each. The older and bigger they get, the more expensive. Tapales says, "There are some tarantulas that are about three grand a pop."
Tapales' girlfriend, Madeline, is more into the snakes (all of which are non-venomous). She loves them so much, she has no problem using her freezer to store their food and kitchen sink to thaw their meals. A self-professed germaphobe, she insists their food (frozen rodents) are germ free. "I'm not a big germ person, I don't like contaminated food, it bothers me," she says.
While one of the tarantulas sent Tapales to the hospital after a bite, he says many of the spiders aren't dangerous. "Their venom is no more harmful than a bee sting," Tapales says.
In fact ,the couple's kids regularly handle the exotics, feeding Tapales' dream to one day turn this hobby into a family business. He says, "It's my trademark to have them!"
The couple advertises the animals they have for sale here: http://www.facebook.com/KrusInvertebrates?fref=ts. They are particular about who they sell to. They want to make sure their pets will be properly taken care of.