Man told to get a hobby for his mental health goes out and buys 300 tarantulas

To his postman, Aaron Phoenix is known as Spider-Man because of his huge collection of tarantulas.

He started collecting them in the summer of 2021 when he was told he should get a hobby for his mental health.

That hobby has turned into a bit of an obsession and he now has 300 – so many that they need their own bedroom.

His pride and joy is a female Mexican Flame Knee tarantula which cost £165.

Aaron says collecting tarantulas is something he was ‘born to do’ and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

He said: ‘Everyone has their passion, and this is mine.

‘The Royal Mail delivery people even know me as “Spider-Man” because every week they bring me my new pets labelled “live animals” on the box.

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‘I love them so much, I could sit and watch them for hours in my spider room.

‘In the past few months I have shared my story on social media and so many people have messaged me because they are interested.

‘There’s so much more positivity around spiders online than I realised, and it’s really great to see.

‘I still have my down moments but I feel now on the whole I’m in a place where my mental health has improved and I’m really content – thanks to my spiders.’

But it hasn’t been all plain-sailing and the pets took some getting used to from partner Jo, 46, and their two teenage daughters.

‘At the beginning, my partner and the kids were a bit freaked out,’ he said.

‘But they saw the positive effect it had on me immediately and became supportive.’

Aaron is now part of an online community of tarantula lovers and shares daily updates about his pets on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.

As well as tarantulas, he also has three pet scorpions, three praying mantises and a centipede.

He now plans to set up his own shop to sell the spiderlings he breeds.

Aaron added: ‘The ultimate goal is to do everything spider wise for my work. There’s a long way to go but it’s a start.

‘It sounds cheesy but I believe this is what I was born to do.’

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