Escaped Pregnant Tarantula Makes Everyone In NYC Freak Out (IMAGE)

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I saw this story last year, and I still think it’s hilarious and worth sharing because it literally made people lose their minds!

It all started when someone posted a “Missing” sign about their Mexican Red Rump tarantula named Penelope, who was apparently very pregnant. The message said the little eight-legged lady had escaped and was wandering around Brooklyn, and her owner was rushing to find her before she gave birth. Here’s the full poster:

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The poster read,

“I know she looks crazy scary, but she’s mostly harmless. She’s pregnant, so I’m hoping to find her before she has her babies. She’s mostly active at night and she tends to hide in dark corners. She shouldn’t bite, but sometimes she jumps when frightened. If you find her, please try to catch her and put her in a tupperware bowl with a few holes in the top for air. Then please call me and I will come and get her.”

The sign was snapped by a Redditor, and it quickly went viral as people panicked. Davey Tolentino, a truck driver in the neighborhood, even said “If it ended up next to me, I’d scream. It could bite me!” (For the record, Mexican Red Rumps are poisonous but cannot kill humans unless you’re allergic to the venom).

Julie Barbarese, another neighbor, was petrified after seeing the sign. She said, “Now I’m super paranoid and will look under my bed . . . This is terrifying.”

The Gothamist wrote up a hilarious article about the missing pregnant tarantula, perfectly capturing the spirit of ever New Yorker while Penelope was on the loose:

“Penelope, a pregnant Mexican Red Rump tarantula, has escaped from her South Slope home. She is currently running wild in South Brooklyn and has presumably laid tiny killer tarantula eggs along the Prospect Expressway. This hasn’t been confirmed, but we’ve all seen enough movies to know baby spiders like to swarm unsuspecting passersby and consume them whole, so consider yourself warned.

As you can see, Penelope is “mostly harmless.” Though that “mostly” probably means she’s been preparing to feast upon her unsuspecting owner for years now, testing the waters by nipping him gently from time to time with her tarantula teeth (do tarantulas have teeth?) to see how he responds to her tarantula venom (pretty sure they have venom) before going in for the final kill.

Penelope does belong to someone, however, and this person is very concerned about her and her unborn tarantula babies. If you see her, please put her in tupperware, punch some holes in the top, notify her owner as to the exact location of this tupperware, and then run away screaming.”

When I first saw this story, even I was fooled and hoped that Penelope would be caught before she was killed or laid eggs (after all, it’s not a kind world for spiders!). But it turns out, it was all a prank! The New York Times reported that the man who answered the number on the poster admitted it was all a joke. He explained, “I always see those signs for missing dogs and cats taped up on posts; I thought, ‘What’s the most absurd poster I could come up with?’ I thought it was so beyond ridiculous that no one would take it seriously. I was wrong.”

He never expected it to go viral, and he was on the train when he saw the story go viral on Twitter. “I never expected it to blow up. I thought, ‘Oh, man.’ I actually didn’t know how to spell tarantula. I had to Google that.”

So the great news is that no tarantulas were hurt or lost and hopefully people got a good laugh. To learn more about the Mexican Red Rump tarantula, check this out!