Sabine Kantenseter of North Platte has a centipede, a true scorpion, one whip scorpion, three tailless whip scorpions and about 20 tarantulas.
“Even when I was a teenager, I wanted a tarantula,” she said. Four or five years ago, Kantenseter saw and purchased a Chilean tarantula, which she named Tessi.
“She started it all,” Kantenseter said. “I went on Facebook. I found some groups and some breeders.”
Next she got a Mexican red-kneed tarantula and named him Needles. Yes, spiders have knees — a total of 48: six for each leg.
Things progressed from there.
Centipedes, scorpions, whip scorpions and tarantulas are in a group of animals called arthropods. They are not insects.
They are “absolutely not hard at all” to take care of, Kantenseter said. It starts with an aquarium with a good lid — one aquarium for each of the critters.
“You can’t put them together,” she said. “They are carnivorous, and they will kill and eat each other.”
Besides that, they need bark, leaves or other things to hide in and a water dish.
They eat crickets and roaches. Kantenseter said she buys crickets but raises her own roaches.
She said her favorite critter is a Gooty sapphire ornamental tarantula named Pandora. The spider’s sapphire blue color is set off by yellow bands at the knees and interesting patterns on the back and front sections.
Some of the creatures look more intimidating than others, like her black Asian forest scorpion. Its name is Thor, and though only a couple of inches long, it’s young and will probably grow up to 4 inches long.
Their sting is painful but not deadly, Kantenseter said.
“I love working with animals and educating people if they have a phobia of spiders,” in particular, Kantenseter said. Most spiders are not as bad as they appear to be. “They’re not bad at all, to me.”
A person does need to use caution, though.
“My animals are all venomous, and they’re not de-fanged,” she said. “Even my scorpion has a stinger.”
Kantenseter’s tiger-striped centipede named Diablo is native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. “Diablo” means “devil” in Spanish, and Kantenseter gave him that name for a reason.
Don’t even think about handling him, she warns, unless you want to receive a painful bite.