Tarantulas smuggled aboard ship in Colombia set to ‘raise problems’ in the Caribbean

Cartagena, Colombia. There are many ways the spider can hitch a ride on a vessel, but on Monday, it’s unclear whether an animal-rights advocate taking an exotic-products trip to Colombia bought his or her pet carrier from a reptile store or whether he or she chose one of the country’s many dry-cleaning shops.

More than 200 tarantulas, including Stegosauruses, Boscoires and Firetarantulas, arrived at the international airport on a southbound ship on Monday morning and were seized by the Colombian Air Force.

“We contacted our team and flew immediately to Cartagena to receive them,” Delfina Pineda, a captain with Colombia’s Air Force, told Colombia Reports, a news website that is a partnership between the Colombian Association of Anatomists and the Colombian Newspaper.

Pineda added that the tarantulas were being treated like any other confiscated species by the Colombian government, and all of them were receiving “accompanying treatment” under the direction of a veterinarian.

Colombia’s Wildlife Board, which is responsible for Colombia’s wildlife and flora, confirmed the import and export of the spiders. Upon inspection, some of the tarantulas were found without a frame and were found inside a side compartment, according to Colombia Reports. The cargo also had false stilts in the dead bird boxes and false U.S. and Colombian stickers on the box.

Galavan Vieira, a biologist with the Wildlife Board in Cartagena, told Colombia Reports that the missing mosquito-proof frame meant the spiders had made a choice to make themselves relatively “properly secured in the box.”

Most of the tarantulas on the vessel were members of the highly invasive species “firetarantula,” which are expected to add considerable pollutants to Colombia’s coastal waters. In addition to eating human flesh and polluting the coastal waters, tarantulas have the ability to move up to 300 miles without seeking shelter.

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