My adventure with creepy creatures started from such an innocent species like stick insects. From an early age I was fascinated with them as well as cockroaches, but I must admit as a very young child I was deadly scared of common spiders you find normally in the house or garden . Through breeding stick insects (as early as in nursery years) I was able to witness nature’s greatest wonder, the miracle of birth. My attention was always drawn to extraordinary, uncommon animals. Whilst others kept colourful fish in their aquariums I would cultivate dafnia, Cyclopidae, Hydracarina and from larger ones Nepa cinerea, leeches or aquatic snails.
Biology and nature have accompanied me through my entire life journey. After high school I thought what next? After failing chemistry at the Politechnika of Silesia I decided to continue with biology at the University of Silesia and here my love affair with spiders began. A friend from uni brought along cockroaches with her and it made me think I want cockroaches straight away. Whilst searching the Internet for my own I came across an advert for bird spider (Grammostola rosea). Access to these creatures was much more difficult back then than it is today. There was no “TCP”, there was Arachnei and nobody at Allegro knew much of spiders. So I ordered three (one for me and two for my friends) and picked them in person from Katowice.
My spider decided she wasn’t going to eat and I realised breeding birdspiders wasn’t so simple after all. I was scared that I wasn’t looking after her properly – keeping birdspiders isn’t that easy after all. I was relieved when after a month I found her moult in the container. The first success encouraged me to order few more birdspiders, if I remember well these were B. smithi, P. cambri, P. irminia, A. geniculate and B. vagans. Most of which I still have I decided to combine my education and my new interest with spiders in earnest. I chose a zoology chair after my second year at uni and wrote my bachelors research about selected species of spiders in Poland. Then the time came for my master’s dissertation. I was writing about a variety of spiders in selected biotopes. While putting a lot of effort into this “creation”, I needed the help of professionals in identifying spiders, as spiders are one of the hardest groups of animals to verify. Some species can be distinguished only by subtle differences in the look of their genital organs? I was advised to speak to dr Zdenek Majkus from Czech Republic, whom I now see regularly every time I am at the trade fair in Ostrava. My collection of spiders was expanding. I added new species, along with praying mantis and other insects. My first ever cocoon, of P. irmini, was a failure unfortunately, but I then managed to breed my first 3 nimphas of G. rosea. Regular trips to Prague followed by trips to Germany, where I purchased first Nephile, solfuga and tarantula among other species, resulted in more cocoons, more spiders, more duties… I started to share my knowledge and experience on spider forums and related platforms on the internet. On one, terrarium.com.pl, I was appointed administrator in the arachnids section. I have written regular articles to the terrarists quarterly magazine “Draco magazyn” for over a year now. I have brought many spiders to Poland and through doing so increased their popularity here in my home country. Through continued breeding of these species I am now responsible for a third of all such spiders in Poland. Over my 10 year career as an arachnologist I have gained a reputation of an experienced, professional and honest breeder. As it happened in January 2010 I lost my day job and became unemployed. So I decided to apply to the European Union for funds and help in opening a spider shop. I was lucky the general manager of our council was a bee keeper so he understood my passion and pushed forward my request. So it happened J I am currently an owner of a Spidershop with the largest selection of spiders in Poland, if not in Central Europe and I don’t complain on Sunday night that I have to go to work again the next day…
BTW my nickname on terrarists forums is ANGELO Yo biatch! Jakub Skowronek