Ming Cu and a tarantula on her head
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Travel

Hanging Out With Indonesia's 'Queen of Tarantulas'

This woman lives with thousands of pet tarantulas in her home.
December 10, 2018, 12:00pm

Eight years ago Ming Cu brought home her first tarantula. It was a Pink Toe tarantula, which is named as such for its unique colors. Now the 28-year-old woman cooks, eats, and sleeps in her home along with thousands of others in Bandung, a city a three-hour drive away from Jakarta.

“Since eight years ago, I became obsessed with spiders," she told VICE. "I can’t stop collecting them. I want to have other species once I acquired one. It’s always like that."

Ming Cu currently has around 2,000 spiders of various species, ranging from not-so-poisonous to definitely poisonous, that she keeps in a room full of glass terrariums. She has zero formal training on spiders — everything she knows about her eight-legged friends came from a 300-page encyclopedia.

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“As far as I can remember, I’ve been bitten by a tarantula 14 times," she said. "The first time I was bitten, the tarantula wasn’t that poisonous, so it just made my hand numb. I had to ice it overnight.

“The worst bite happened a few months ago when I was trying to breed Phormingochilus everetti (high venom). I was supposed to used 34 centimeter-long tweezers, but I only used 12 centimeter-long ones because I was lazy to search for the other ones. One of the tarantulas bit my finger, and after a while my whole body was shaking, I felt feverish, and I couldn’t sleep the whole night,” she adds.

Ming Cu said she's had to let go some of the more poisonous types from her collection for the sake of her parents, who grew worrisome of her hobby.


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But Ming Cu clearly found a way around her parents’ contempt for her spiders, because she still cares for them, even some who could potentially kill her. “You have to love them even if they bite you,” Ming Cu said, laughing.

I was amazed by Ming Cu's dedication for every single one of her tarantulas. She told me that she often set aside sleeping to care for the sick ones.

“This is a type of love that’s one-sided," she said. "For example, the Obligate Burrower spiders burrow themselves into the ground. If I take some of their their soil away, they’ll die from lack of moisture. So I can’t see them, but I still have to love them."

And because you can’t de-venom a spider like you would with snakes, the whole point is just to love each tarantula unconditionally. “If you take their venom out, they’ll die," she said. "So I can’t touch them, but I still love them."

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This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.