Weird pets in Dubai

We meet the man with the tarrantulas

The Knowledge

Bored of dogs? Over cats? Then maybe it’s time you got a pet that’s a bit more exotic. One Dubaian tells Style why hanging out with spiders and snakes is cooler than you think.

South African Michael Vosloo, 24, has lived in Dubai for the past four years. With a passion for motorsports, the great outdoors, G watches and loose tees, this laidback expat recently put aside his fear of snakes to become the proud owner of one. He’s also the adoptive father of two furry tarantulas. Deeply curious about his desire to own two species most people run a mile from, we caught up with the Cape Town native to find out why he reckons his pets are the coolest in town.

What made you decide you wanted to own a snake?
Well I never thought I’d own one in my life before I bought Esmeralda (aka Easy A), who’s six months old. I had a small fear of them before, but the range of exotic colours these reptiles can come in was interesting enough to give me the courage to man up. Creatures Oasis on Jumeirah Beach Road is my reptile shop of choice – I looked in a lot of different stores and this is a good one. They had a great variety, lots of advice and helped me choose the right one for me. There’s a thrill to living with a snake in my house.

And the tarantulas…?
There’s Optimus Prime, a Chilean Rose, and Mexican, a Chilean Rose Velvet. I chose them because the first day I ever got to hold one, I realised the handling made me very calm, and I still feel like that today – and my friends who have held them agree. When I was in the shop there were a lot of scared customers because the spider was out in the open. All of my pets are cool – they’re exotic, come in interesting colours and get amusing reactions from friends. It’s great to overcome the fear, learn to understand them and I love that calm feeling that kicks in when it’s time to handle them.

How do people react to your pets?
Honestly, it’s 50-50. The most rewarding part is when someone gets to handle and feel them for the first time – it’s quite an accomplishment. I guess the kick out of it all is that you can’t tell what they will do – there are no facial expressions, so trying to understand them is the key thing.

How much looking-after do they need?
I handle the snake two to three times a week – she eats once a week and has fresh water every day. The tarantulas can eat whenever, but not that frequently. Sometimes once a week, once a month, every six months, even once a year depending on the species. They are tricky and quite delicate to look after. They’re very misunderstood creatures – that’s something else I’ve learned and that’s what keeps me interested.

Find out if a weird pet is for you

Creatures Oasis
Sells a variety of animals for pets, including iguanas and turtles, and can offer advice on handling and caring for different species.
Villa 10, 31a Street, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1 (04 342 0555).

Exo Terra Dubai
Located in Uptown Mirdif, this store specialises in reptiles, including geckos and snakes such as pythons. Staff are happy to answer questions and make sure you go home with the right equipment.
Uptown Mirdif (04 252 4466).

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