and Snake Spoofs,
Urban Legends, Hoaxes
and Other Odd Stories
Don't forget to look !!!
Aliases: Toilet Spiders, Butt
Spiders, Blush Spiders
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
"This is really scary...
According to an article by Dr.
Beverly Clark, in the Journal of the United
Medical Association (JUMA), the mystery behind a
recent spate of deaths has been solved.
If you haven't already heard
about it in the news, here is what
3 women in Chicago, turned up at
hospitals over a 5 day period, all with the same
symptoms. Fever, chills, and vomiting, followed
by muscular collapse, paralysis, and finally,
death. There were no outward signs of trauma.
Autopsy results showed toxicity in the blood.
These women did not know each other, and seemed
to have nothing in common. It was discovered,
however, that they had all visited the same
restaurant (Big Chappies, at
Blare Airport), within days of their deaths.
The health department descended
on the restaurant, shutting it down. The food,
water, and air conditioning were all inspected
and tested, to no avail. The big break came when
a waitress at the restaurant was rushed to the
hospital with similar symptoms. She told doctors
that she had been on vacation, and had only went
to the restaurant to pick up her check.
She did not eat or drink while
she was there, but had used the restroom.
That is when one toxicologist,
remembering an article he had read, drove out to
the restaurant, went into the restroom, and
lifted the toilet seat. Under the seat, out of
normal view, was small spider.
The spider was captured and
brought back to the lab, where it was determined
to be the South American Blush Spider (arachnius
gluteus), so named because of its reddened flesh
color. This spider's venom is extremely toxic,
but can take several days to take effect. They
live in cold, dark, damp,climates, and toilet
rims provide just the right atmosphere. Several
days later a lawyer from Los Angeles showed up at
a hospital emergency room. Before his death, he
told the doctor, that he had been away on
business, had taken a flight from New York,
changing planes in Chicago, before returning
home. He did not visit Big Chappies while there.
He did, as did all of the other victims, have
what was determined to be a puncture wound, on
his right buttock. Investigators discovered that
the flight he was on had originated in South
America. The Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB)
ordered an immediate inspection of the toilets of
all flights from South America, and discovered
the Blush spider's nests on 4 different planes!
It is now believed that these spiders can be
anywhere in the country.
So please, before you use a
public toilet, lift the seat to check for
It can save your life!
And please pass this on to
everyone you care about."
New Variant reported March 2000 below:
Subject: CHECKING THE TOILET SEATS
PLEASE READ and pass on this is a life or death situation
According to an article by Dr. Beverly Clark, in the Journal of the
British Medical Association (JUMA), the mystery behind a recent spate of
deaths has been solved. If you haven't already heard about it in the
news, here is what happened.
3 women in Leeds, turned up at hospitals over a 5 day period, all with
the same symptoms. Fever, chills, and vomiting, followed by muscular
collapse, paralysis, and finally, death. There were no outward signs of
Autopsy results showed toxicityin the blood. These women did not know
each other, and seemed to have nothing in common. It was discovered,
however, that they had all visited the same restaurant (Stoops, Yeadon
Airport), within days of their deaths. The health department descended
on the restaurant, shutting it down. The food, water, and air
conditioning were all inspected and tested, to no avail.
The big break came when a waitress at the restaurant was rushed to the
hospital with similar symptoms. She told doctors that she had been on
vacation, and had only went to the restaurant to pick up her wage.
She did not eat or drink while she was there, but had used the ladies
room. That is when one toxicologist, remembering an article he had read,
drove out to the restaurant, went into the restroom, and lifted the
Under the seat, out of normal view, was small spider. The spider was
captured and brought back to the lab, where it was determined to be the
South American Blush Spider (arachnius gluteus), so named because of its
reddened flesh color. This spider's venom is extremely toxic, but can
take several days to take effect.
They live in cold, dark, damp, climates, and toilet rims provide just the
right atmosphere. Several days later a lawyer from London showed up at a
hospital emergency room.
Before his death, he told the doctor, that he had been away on
business, had caught a return flight from New York to Leeds/Bradford
Airport before changing planes to return home to London.
Although he did not visit The Stoops while there. He did, as did all of
the other victims, have what was determined to be a puncture wound, on
his right buttock. Investigators discovered that the flight he was on
had originated in South America.
The Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered an immediate
inspection of the toilets of all flights from and to Leeds/Bradford
Airport from America, and discovered the Blush spider's nests on 4
different planes! It is now beleived that these spiders can be
anywhere in the world.
So please, before you use a public toilet, lift the seat to check for
spiders. It can save your life! And please pass this on to everyone you
This was quickly debunked by Chuck Kristensen
of the arachnology mailing list ; no such article
in Medline, no such journal, no such spider.
There is no spider genus
'arachnius,' nor is there a spider named
'arachnius gluteus.' (apparently
intended to be translated as "butt
There is no 'Journal of
the United Medical Association.'
There is no Blare Airport
There is no 'Big
Chappies' restaurant in Chicago.
No doctor named Dr.
Beverly Clark has published articles in
any medical journal.
There is such a thing as
a blush spider, but guess what
it's a cosmetological term referring to
patches of tiny varicose veins on the
surface of the skin. (see picture and
Spider Veins aka Blush
Individuals seeking treatment of
spider veins, whether on the face, around the
nose or on the thighs and legs, often inquire
about various techniques to eradicate these
apparent blood vessels. The
treatment of spider veins is very selective and
dependant on size.
Techniques available are
sclerosis therapy with small injections which are
required for the larger vessels and for the
smaller type of blush
spider veins. The Photoderm/Vasculight
laser is used for vessels around the nose and on
the cheeks of the face and for smaller vessels on
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
"Heard a new one today not
from one but from two sources claiming that the
Daddy Longleg spider is the most venomous
"spider" in the world, it just doesn't
have the capabilities to bite humans."
I found this response to this
"The problem with the
'Daddy Longlegs' is that the name is used for
several kinds of animals, 2 of them arachnids:
1) The family Phalangiidae (a part of the
opilionids [harvestmen], a different order than
2) a spider: Pholcus phalangioides
Number one doesn't have poison glands. Number two
has poison glands but as far as is known in the
scientific world, nobody has ever been bitten by
one of them. It's not sure if the poison has ever
been investigated since there was no need for
Source: Herman Vanuytven
from the Arachnology Home page at http://www.ufsia.ac.be/Arachnology/Arachnology.html
Finally, most spider texts
list South American species in the family
Ctenidae as the most venomous known to
You can find pictures of the
Pholcus 'Daddy Longlegs Spider' and many others
in the Other
Spiders Gallery on this site.
A Tear To The Eye
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
"He woke up one day and
right below his eye was all swollen. Throughout
the day it got worse, so he went to the dentist,
and there was nothing wrong. Then he went to the
doctor - he gave him antibiotics. Still, nothing
went away and the swelling just kept getting
bigger and bigger.
Eventually a few days later, they operated - and
when they cut his cheek open, all these baby
spiders fell out.
Apparently a spider crawled into
his tear duct and laid eggs in his sinus cavity,
and then they hatched in his sinus."
infest student's potted cactus
Jessica Steeno - Staff Reporter
Status: False (Spoof).
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]
When a University student
purchased a cactus from Acme Florist in
Dinkytown, she had no idea thousands of fuzzy
arachnids would leap from the soil and infiltrate
If she didn't have arachnophobia
then, she does now.
"I was finding dead
tarantulas in my underwear drawer for weeks after
it happened," said Iona Bugg, a senior
Bugg said she purchased the
Christmas cactus last week, and shortly afterward
noticed strange noises coming from the pot.
"I could hear something
scratching on the inside of the pot, like it was
trying to get out," she said.
She immediately called Acme and
explained the noises to them.
"I knew right away what it
meant," said Moe Skeedo, the store's
manager. "There had been problems with
spiders nesting in house cactuses in the South,
but I was completely shocked to hear that a plant
from our store in Minneapolis was full of
Skeedo told Bugg to evacuate her
Dinkytown apartment immediately. He then sent a
team of specialists to dispose of the cactus.
Bugg was waiting in the driveway
when the specialists arrived.
"They were wearing these big
rubber suits when they came out of the van,"
she said. "It was like something out of
At this point, Bugg was still not
aware that lurking inside the pot was a nest full
"We didn't want to alarm
her," Skeedo said.
The specialists entered Bugg's
apartment, where Dale Droppit, Acme Florist's
entomologist, located the offending cactus. He
picked it up and was intending to bring it back
to the van when the inevitable happened.
With his head hanging and eyes
fixed on the floor, Droppit said the
decontamination suit's gloves are made of slick
nylon. He said that when the cactus slipped from
his hands, the nest of tarantulas burst open.
"I've never seen so many
baby tarantulas in one place," Droppit said.
"We were lucky we had our suits on,
otherwise the little buggers would've crawled
right up our pants. We radioed the exterminator
Moments later, the exterminator's
truck pulled into the driveway, Bugg said.
"That's when I knew
something fishy was going on," she said.
Bugg said she tried to push her way into her
apartment to see what was going on, but the men
in suits wouldn't let her in.
"They were obviously bugged
out by something," she said.
The exterminator bombed her
apartment with insecticide, and paid for Bugg's
hotel room for the next few days.
Acme Florist attempted to clean
up the dead tarantulas, but Bugg said they
infiltrated every inch of her apartment.
"When I first came home I
couldn't tell anything happened," Bugg said.
"But as soon as I started opening drawers
and checking crevices I started finding their
furry little corpses. One of them creeped into
the refrigerator, and it was still alive! It was
staggering from being so cold, though, and I
killed it without much trouble. It left a big
mark on the floor though."
Bugg said that although she was
traumatized by the experience and has since
switched majors to computer science, she is
thankful Acme stepped in when they did.
"Thank God they responded so
quickly," she said. "They saved my
life, not to mention my sanity. But I still get
the creeps whenever I open my fridge."
Another version of the story
This bloke and his family were on
holiday in the States and went to Mexico for a
week. As he is an avid cactus fan he bought a
rare and expensive cactus there, it was about a
metre high and cost about $500 Aus. He got it
home and the customs people were none too
impressed so they said it must stay in quarantine
for 3 months, cost - $800 or so.
He finally got his cactus home
and planted it in his backyard where over time it
grew to about 2 metres or so in height. One
evening after a beautiful warm spring day he was
out watering his garden and thought he might give
the cactus a light spray. This he did and was
amazed to see the plant shiver all over, he gave
it another light spray and it shivered and shook
again. All its arms moved. He was puzzled so he
rang the council who put him on to the state
gardens. After a few transfers he got the states
foremost cactus expert who asked him many pointed
questions, how tall is it, how tall was it when
you got it, has it grown well, has it flowered,
what type of spines etc etc. Finally he asked a
most disturbing question, " is your family
in the house?".
The guy answered yes, the cactus
expert said get them out of the house NOW, get on
to the front nature strip and wait for me, I will
be there in 15 minutes. Ten minutes later, 2 fire
trucks, two cop cars and an ambulance came
screaming around the corner at the end of the
street and stopped out the front of the house.
A fireman got out and came up to
him, " are you the guy with the
cactus?". I am he said. The fireman turns to
the truck and says 'come on Dave'. A guy jumps
out of the fire truck wearing what looks like a
space suit, a breathing cylinder and mask
attached and what looks like a scuba backpack on
with a large hose attached.
Stay here, says the first
fireman, and they both headed for the backyard.
This was too much for the bloke so he ran around
after them and found the guy in the space suit
was torching his prize cactus with a
flamethrower, he sprayed it up and down with this
huge flame which fried everything within a ten
metre radius of the cactus, caught fire to the
back fence and set off the neighbours trees as
well. The guy of course was having kittens, what
the $%^& is going on etc etc, after about ten
minutes the flame thrower man stopped, his cactus
stood there smoking and spitting, half the fence
was gone, his garden was entirely rooted.
Just then the cactus expert
appears and laid a calming hand on the guys
shoulder. "What the hell is going on?"
says the bloke, 'let me show you' says the cactus
He went over to the cactus and
picked away at a crusty bit of it, it was almost
entirely hollow and filled with these tiger
striped bird eating tarantula spiders, about the
size of two hands spans.
The story was that this type of
spider lays eggs in this type of cactus and they
hatch and live in it as it and they grow to full
size. When they are all grown to full size they
release themselves, the cactus just explodes and
about 150 of these plate size tiger striped hairy
spiders are flung from it, dispersing everywhere
of course. They had been just ready to pop, can
The aftermath was that his house
and the two houses adjoining on each side had to
be vacated and fumigated and sealed up for two
weeks, yellow police tape was put up outside the
whole area and no one was allowed in for two
weeks, then they gave the all clear and they
could move back in.
Burgers and Snakes....
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]
About a week or so ago, a mother
took her eager 3 year old son to Burger King for
lunch. After they ate their lunch the mother said
that the son could go and play on the playground
for awhile since he ate all his lunch. She
watched as the boy played in the tunnels, slide
and in the ball-pit. The boy played for about 10
minutes when he started to whimper slightly. The
mother asks the boy what had happened and he
mearly replied, "Hurt mommy." The
mother assumed that the little boy had banged his
elbow or something while playing. They left to
return home. A half-an-hour after they were home,
the mother noticed some big red welts on the
little boys arms and legs. Not being able to
figure out what they were, the mother started to
look at them closer.
Could be red ant bites...she did
not know. An hour later, the little boy died.
Come to find out, when returning to Burger King
to see if there were red ants in the play area,
in case the little boy had an allergic reaction.
Burger King employees and herself discovered that
there was a family of baby rattlesnakes living
underneath the balls in the ball-pit area. She
has since found out that this happens more
frequently than not. The snakes will crawl into
the ball pit because it is dark and warm in
there. She knows for a fact that another death
has occurred because of this in South Carolina.
Please use caution when letting any children play
in an outside play area of a fast food
restaurant, this could happen anywhere. Burger
Kings are now building their play area's inside
the buildings for a safer environment.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]
Someone's cousin (friend,
brother, Uncle, whatever)knew someone who knew a
small boy who was with his Dad, fishing on a
river (pond, lake, swamp, fill in the blanks)
bank. He was playing with some worms, when he
complained that the worms were
"stinging" him. Of course, they were
baby cottonmouths, and of course he died. And of
course, no one can pin down precisely where,
when, and to whom exactly this occurred.
Daily Telegraph Friday 13
Strange but true: Foreign
Pre-packaged food sometimes comes
with with added bite, says Paul Sieveking
THE odd caterpillar or foreign
object inevitably finds its way into food; but
sometimes more bizarre things turn up in kitchens
as meals are prepared.
Patricia Henderson, for instance,
put her hand in a bag of Sainsbury's mixed herbs
last month and felt something large and mobile,
which turned out to be a live toad the size of
Mrs Henderson, 42, bought the
salad at the Whitley Bay, Tyneside, store and
kept it in the fridge over the weekend before
opening it on Monday. The bag's contents had been
shipped in from Africa and packed in Britain by
suppliers to Sainsbury's before arriving at its
store, where it was kept in a refrigerated
"We have screening
procedures which should have spotted something
like this - especially at the weighing
stage," a spokesman said.
Janet Pillow bought a bag of
broccoli at Tesco in Whitstable, Kent, and sliced
a live, poisonous, seven-inch water snake in half
when she opened it on June 19, 1996, which
happened to be during National Broccoli Week.
And in April 1994, a dead bat was
found in a pan of frozen broccoli in Alfriston,
In 1993, Ken Cope from Whitney,
Oxon, found a bone from a child's hand in a
packet of pistachio nuts; and the following year
Ken Chenowerth from Bristol (who had a snake
phobia) found rattlesnake bones in a packet of
peanuts. In 1988, a bag of peanuts in Essex
contained the molar of a Chinaman.
Lynn Wulf, an inspector for a
consumers' affairs department, found half an inch
of human finger in a bandage when she opened a
can of mushroom stems at her house in Long Island
in April 1993. In the same month, a nurse,
Rosemary Pothecary, bought a salad in a sandwich
bar in Tottenham Street, central London. Back
home, she was chewing the final forkful of
shredded cabbage when she bit on the top of a
human thumb. Earlier in the sandwich bar, a Mr
Campos had been preparing coleslaw when he cut
off half his thumb and was rushed to hospital. No
one thought of checking what had happened to the
A third finger turned up in 1993
when a teenager in Ilford heated up a Tyne brand
hotpot and bit into something hard which turned
out to be half a human finger. In March 1996,
David Dean was fixing a snack at home in Tampa,
Florida, when he spotted part of a finger lying
among the slices of ham which his wife had bought
at their local supermarket.
It is not all bad news. In 1992,
Levent SŁner bought Norwegian mackerel in some
unspecified Turkish town and found a yellow stone
in one of the fish which turned out to be 4.5
grams of 24-carat gold. The wife of a Sioux
Indian, Benny Left Hand, was even luckier. In
1985 she was cutting up a chicken in her kitchen
in the Standing Rock reservation when she felt
something hard in the chicken's gut, which turned
out to be a nugget of gold about 28 grams in
Li Yunzhong, a Chinese farmer
from Hunan province, found a 1.18 carat uncut
diamond in the gizzard of a chicken he was
preparing for dinner in September 1985. He sold
it for 950 yuan (approximately £300) or three
times the average annual income for a peasant. It
was suggested that the bird picked up the gem
from paths spread with gravel from a diamond
mine. And in November that year, Ken Holdaway of
Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, found a nine carat
gold ear-ring in an egg.
An Italian woman thought a tiny
stone had become lodged between her teeth as she
ate spaghetti in a Rome restaurant in 1996.
However, a visit to the dentist revealed a raw
diamond worth £2,000, which she planned to mount
in a ring. How it got there was a mystery.
Paul Sieveking is editor of