Woman With Arachnophobia Now Sleeps With 35 Tarantulas In Her Room
Vanessa Woods says she was 'petrified' of spiders for more than three decades before she subjected herself to the unusual type of exposure therapy.
The videos sparked an unexpected fascination with invertebrates, and within the space of just nine months Vanessa has accumulated 35 furry friends.
To put this into perspective, Berlin Zoo only has a total of around 30 tarantulas. An actual zoo.
Her pets, some of which measure up to nine inches long and are venomous, are kept in enclosures in her bedroom - just feet from where she sleeps every night.
Care assistant Vanessa - who is married to someone who 'tolerates' her pets - says: "I was always one of those people who would run out of the room when they saw a spider, I was terrified of them.
"If one was in my house I'd have to call for someone to come and get rid of it because I was too scared to go anywhere near them."
She adds: "Now I'm absolutely in love with them.
"I can't imagine my life without spiders in it, I think they're the most amazing animals."
Vanessa, from Wymondham in Norfolk, began overcoming her fear of spiders 12 months ago by watching hour after hour of educational videos on YouTube.
She says: "At first the videos gave me the heebie-jeebies, but as I learned more about spiders I realised they weren't this scary creature that I had imagined. I actually became fascinated by them.
"All the species are so different - they are different sizes with different characters and I just wanted to learn as much as I could."
Nine months ago Vanessa took her interest to the next level by purchasing a lasiodora parahybana, which is also known as the Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula. Sounds... pleasant.
In the months since then, Vanessa has accumulated tarantulas at an exceptionally rapid rate, with another 34 now stacked in enclosures against her bedroom wall.
Among her collection is a burgundy Goliath bird eater called Tank, which measures nine inches long, and a Costa Rican zebra tarantula called Ziggy.
One of Vanessa's most dangerous pets is a curlyhair tarantula called Skitters, which is covered in characteristically long curly bristles.
The curlyhair tarantula - an opportunistic ambushing spider - holds its prey with its front limbs and injects it with paralysing venom delivered through two hollow fangs.
This means the curlyhair is then able to suck up the proteins and fats of its prey, leaving just a small ball of undigested body parts.
Sounds just the sort of thing you'd want in your own home, doesn't it?
Vanessa said: "When I think back to how I was with spiders just over a year ago I could never have possibly imagined I'd have 35 of them as pets.
"I'm so happy that I was able to change my attitude and grow to love them. Owning spiders is such a fulfilling hobby and they bring me so much joy.
"Each of them has their own little character and different way of going about things, they're fascinating little animals."
Vanessa described her pet spiders as 'low maintenance', adding that while some need feeding once a week, others only need to be fed once every 12 months.
She said: "I'd like to have 100 of them and maybe then I'll stop."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS