Spiders wouldn’t be considered the way to find companionship, but this story is amazing. You never know where you’ll be when you learn something that will interest you for the rest of your life. About 3 years ago I went to prison to service my sentence of a year and one day. This story is not about me or my journey though. Rather, It’s about several other women and what they did to find companionship while doing their time.
As the work day was ending and the women would come home to their dorms, I observed quite a few of them with cups and toilet paper rolls sitting on their bunks holding something very tiny. I worked with one of the girls named Heather in culinary. So I went over to talk to her and she had two spiders. And, these little guys were her pets.
One’s name was Ophelia, the Monster. Ophelia, the Monster loved to climb all the way up her head to the top and play with her ponytail. She would hold them and they would jump off her hand make a web and climb back up. This was a game they could play for hours and hours. I found this interaction very adorable. When Heather would go to work in the kitchen she would find them little snacks like moths, flies and ants.
We had another girl in our dorm, we’ll call her Merch. Merch had 5 spiders of her own. One day, while at work, she got herself into some trouble and went to lock. You’re probably thinking the cops would have found and killed her five pets while packing up her belongings. But no way these ladies were prepared to get each other’s back in case of an emergency. And this was an emergency. One of the girls had her locker combination, and so five different women each took a spider till she did her time in lock. I was quite impressed.
Shakedowns In Prison
From time to time we would have shakedowns in the prison dorm. This is when the officers would search for any contraban and dispose of it. During the searches a spider or two would be found. Unfortunately the police didn’t value the spiders lives and would squash them. This was always very hard on these women. Trying to protect their beds 24/7 in a prison is very difficult.
What always impressed me was how each spider looked. Each spider had their own little personalities, just like any other pet would. Some were personable and some were just plain old stubborn. Heather’s two spiders were so friendly. Although they definately loved Heather the best. They would let you hold them, but with these spiders they would just stay on your hand. But with Heather they would climb all over. It was actually adorable. Each spider had beautiful eyes. What I found so cute was how the spiders would literally put their arms up. It was as if they were saying “pick me up mom”.
Trips To Work
There were days Heather would take Ophelia, the Monster to work with her. When we had a break Heather would then take Ophelia, the Monster home to her little bomb-shelter to keep her safe. A few of her spiders had been found before, and the police would kill them. That absolutely devastated her. She actually felt guilty when they would be killed. She enjoyed them a lot.
No-one Left Behind
Then the day came when Heather was going home. At the time of her release she had three spiders. She wasn’t planning on leaving them behind. Actually, she was counting on the officer who was releasing her that day to be a little lazy that morning and not do a thorough search. She had them in three different compartments. And sure enough all four of them left that day. All alive and well.
Prison Pass Time Becomes A Business
Since then I’ve spoke to Heather. She’s now in the spider business and breeding them. As of now she has two different kinds of spiders and over a hundred babies. They sell for $15 and $20. Heather has her own Facebook page called Ophelia, the Monster with over 1000 followers. Heather has many little aquariums in her bedroom and sometimes a little buggers gets loose. She keeps a few adults as her pets like Ewok, Padme the Hunter, Fat Bottom Girl, Pi the Groomer, Mr. Bubbler and Ripley. Padme the Hunter always raises her arms in triumph after her catch. Ripley’s the mama of some of the babies. Heather says her babies are a handful and they’re bad kids.
Cycle of Life
Something Heather shared with me is that she believes she has spider PTSD from prison. She’s always to trying to keep them safe and sound. As spiders age they slow down. The gripping hair on their feet often wear off so they have trouble climbing. And therefore they eat less and less. Old spiders often lose the ability to build new sacks. What happens is the spiders do not change their enclosure or remove the resting Sac. Often spiders show some particular symptoms before dying. Most often hanging out on the bottom of their enclosure as a sign they won’t be around much longer. They usually live to be one year to 2 years old.
The thing is Heather found a companion with Ophelia, the Monster. It’s incredible to me that she was able to take her home. What’s also incredible is the bond Ophelia, the Monster created for Heather and I. Two different people brought together in an uncommon place by an uncommon friend. Too Cool!