One of the perks of working at a natural history museum is not knowing what the day will bring. Once, in the not-too-distant past, I got a call from our front desk:

– “A man has brought a deceased, frozen pet tarantula and is looking for help on getting it taxidermized for sentimental reasons. Would you help?”

I have preserved Lepidoptera specimens for many years, of course, and even their caterpillars, but I had never dealt with a tarantula before. I decided to give it a try: service to the public and all that…

Here’s my recipe:

1. Defrost the tarantula that was previously frozen by the owner.

2. Make a small incision through the ventral side of the abdomen and remove all the contents. Note: You will discover that it is liquid.tarantula

3. Make small cotton balls and stuff the abdomen with cotton until fully inflated to the original size.

4. Find a photo of a living tarantula on the Internet as your model.

5. Using entomological pins, arrange the tarantula on a foam board so that it looks natural.


6. Place in the drying oven for 2 weeks, or until fully dry: probe with forceps, to make sure legs can no longer be moved.


7. Place in a shadow box frame and immobilize with a couple of pins.

8. Step back and enjoy.

Interesting Fact: Male tarantulas have structures called “palpal bulbs” ending with hooks called “emboli.” Male uses them to deliver sperm to female, process described as “attempting to adjust a complex, delicate mechanism in the dark, using an elongate, elaborately formed fingernail.”



The title of this post capitalizes on the viral internet meme @FloridaMan (