Omnipresent and ever relevant, spiders have become common symbols in art and mythology, symbolising various combinations of patience, cruelty and creative powers. This endures into the present day with characters such as Shelob from The Lord of the Rings and Spider-Man from the eponymous comic series.
Spiders have been the focus of fears, stories and mythologies of various cultures for centuries. Often, the spider is seen as a symbol of mischief and malice for its toxic venom and the slow death it causes, which is seen as a curse. In addition the spider has inspired creations from an ancient geoglyph to a modern steampunk spectacle.
In literature the novel Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) is notable in its portrayal of the spider in a positive manner as a heroine, rather than an object of fear or horror. More recently giant spiders have featured in books such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This book was later followed by a motion picture of the same name, using the giant spider Aragog from the novel as a supporting character and friend of groundskeeper, Hagrid.
The spider is also found in modern children’s tales. The nursery rhymes “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Little Miss Muffet” have spiders as focal characters. The poem “The Spider and the Fly” of 1829 is a cautionary tale of seduction and betrayal, which later inspired a 1949 film and a 1965 Rolling Stones song – each sharing the same title – as well as a 1923 cartoon by Aesop Fables Studio.
On screen the fear of spiders culminates in Arachnophobia, a movie in which spiders multiply and the plot of the Doctor Who episode “Arachnids in the UK” revolves around an infestation of giant spiders that has occurred as the result of a scientific experiment.
Their physiology is fascinating. They are arthropods with eight legs, have mouth parts with fangs that are generally able to inject venom, and spinnerets that extrude silk. They have segmented bodies with eight jointed limbs and heads that are composed of several segments. They have four pairs of eyes. Yet, spiders lack balance and acceleration sensors and rely on their eyes to tell them which way is up.
Unlike insects, spiders do not have antennae. Interestingly they have no extensor muscles in their limbs and instead, extend them by hydraulic pressure. Their abdomens have appendages modified into spinnerets that extrude silk for webs. Spider webs vary widely in size, shape and the amount of sticky thread used.
Spiders are found worldwide on every continent (except Antarctica) and have become established in nearly every land habitat. As of 2021, there were 49,623 spider species in one hundred and twenty nine families recorded.They are, indeed, pretty incredible creatures!
Depending on species, spiders occur in a large range of sizes. The smallest is the patu igua which are less than 0.37mm in body length. The largest and heaviest spiders occur among tarantulas, which can have body lengths up to 90mm and leg spans up to 250mm.
Little or large, some people are terrified of spiders and have a genuine fear. Please ensure that the models or actors you’re working with do not have arachnophobia. Our spiders can be handled (with care) and confident models or actors are able to get up close and personal with this species. This allows for some thought provoking photography and some frankly stunning shots.
We cannot predict the movement of spiders, so filming directional and movement work can be tricky but is doable. We know the places that they will gravitate towards, so working with our handlers, some excellent action shots can be achieved.
We supply professional animal location handlers around the world to ensure you get all the shots you require and, as overseers to ensure the wild is not disturbed, the crew will always be safe and no welfare regulations are ever breached.
It isn’t just the animals that are well trained, our team including our handlers are also highly experienced and fully qualified experts in the field.
Your handler will take full control of any animals on set and ensure the entire shoot runs properly. They will also fully manage the welfare of all the animals both on and off set; the safety and welfare of the animals is their prime concern. All of our handling is strictly force-free and only positive, reward based practices are deployed. This way you can have total confidence that by booking With The Animal Talent everything is taken care of legally, professionally and ethically.
The Performing Animals License is no longer relevant (it was scrapped in 2019) and has been replaced with the Animal Activity Licence, which we hold.
Our handler is covered by a £10 million Public Liability Insurance policy.
Depending on the species of spider, some are nocturnal and some are diurnal. This needs to be taken into account for filming schedules. An environmental temperature of 21-24°C is required for many of the tarantula species, so please discuss requirements with our handler.
Tarantulas themselves are not poisonous, but they do contain venom glands and inject venom into their prey through their fangs. All species of tarantula are venomous and contain venom and they use it primarily for hunting prey. Tarantulas are harmless to humans (except for a painful bite), and their mild venom is weaker than a typical bee’s. Care should be taken when handling this species.
If any species of animal listed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act are required, special measures will need to be put into place for the shoot. Precisely what is appropriate will vary species to species, but may include sectioned off areas where only trained handlers are allowed. In the event of large and dangerous carnivores, a specifically built green screen studio can also be supplied.