Arizona man operates spider farm in Yarnell
This is a story about a Spiderman, no we're not talking about the superhero, but rather an expert of spiders who lives in his Arizona house with 50,000 of the creepy crawlers. It's the largest and most advanced spider farm in America.
For some, it may be the creepiest home in Arizona or anywhere. Two humans live in the home with 50,000 spiders, millions of maggots, centipedes, and scorpions.
Welcome to Charles Kristensen's Spider Farm.
"These are bark scorpions... we've probably got 500 all total in here," said Charles Kristensen.
What's spookier is the spiders all live in the basement on towers filled with tiny cups. It is surprisingly calm at this Spider Farm.
Kristensen is a biologist and scientist and knows more about spiders than probably anyone in the world. He's truly Spiderman.
"People call me that... I think it's a copyright violation," he said. It's a unique profession that started as a hobby. "I happened to be up in northern Minnesota int he boonies watching spiders, and I said this is awesome."
Kristensen has been in the business of collecting, breeding, and milking spiders since the 1980's working with his wife, Anita. Milking is how they collect spider venom to sell to researchers. "Venoms have toxins that go after certain receptors; blocking pain, epilepsy, cardiac dysfunction," said Kristensen.
Researchers can and will call him and say send me some spider venom. It's a tedious process that requires him to knock out the spiders using carbon dioxide. Once they're sleeping, he zaps them with a light electric shock causing them to express a miniscule droplet of venom.
Even though this is science, the spider farm can give you nightmares. There's a rack of tarantulas and another with 30 black widow spider sacks. Each of those contains 100 baby black widow spiders. It's something you do not want to lose track of.
Occasionally Kristensen says they lose track of a spider, or one gets away like a poisonous black widow spider, but they never panic.
"That is how you catch a spider without killing it," he demonstrated.
Kristensen worked on the movie Arachnophobia, "we help with the pre-production, shoots and worked with the spider wranglers," he said.
And yes, Arachnophobia is a real condition, it is the fear of spiders.
"We've even had a Navy Seal that came in and had to leave in 5 minutes because he couldn't take it... he got nervous and agitated," said Kristensen.
The spider farm is located in Yarnell, near the site of the awful Yarnell Hill fire a year and a half ago.
For more information visit www.spiderpharm.com