FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Construction worker Brian Smith was digging a foundation for a new home when developer Chris Brown brought him a cleaned-out nail bucket holding a big, fuzzy, black spider.
It is probably a Rocky Mountain tarantula, said Shawn Olsen, a Utah State University extension agent. A number have been found in the sandy foothills of Farmington, he said.
"It's huge. That thing is huge," Smith said.
The tarantulas are nocturnal and feed on lizards and insects, Olsen said. They can have a leg span of up to six inches.
Smith took the tarantula to his home in Roy, but he said his wife isn't enthusiastic about having the big spider in the house. He plans to buy an atrium for the tarantula and feed it crickets, but he might also give it to a school for a science class pet.
North American tarantulas normally are reluctant to attack people, and their bites usually are no more dangerous than a bee or wasp sting, Olsen said.
But they do bite though and have bristles on their legs that can break off and irritate the skin, so Olsen recommends handlers be careful and wear gloves.
"They're not real common, but they are around," Olsen said. "We have had people bring them into our office and pest clinic infrequently. I've heard of some people that like to keep them for pets."
Smith said the only way he will handle the spider is if he is wearing a pair of his welding gloves.
"I think if it bit you, you would be in a lot of pain," he said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)