According to scientists, 80 percent of international traffic in spiders and scorpions is unregulated, posing a threat to conservation.

Many people dislike spiders, tarantulas, and scorpions, but it turns out that there is a massive market for arachnids as pets, which is generally uncontrolled, posing a threat to their species’ survival.

Researchers who investigated the industry for two decades concluded that about 80% of the global arachnid trade, which is much greater than previously anticipated, is neither controlled or regulated.

According to the findings of a study published in Nature on Tuesday, more than 1,200 species of arachnids, including spiders and scorpions, have been or are being trafficked around the world. According to the study, 79 percent of the species are advertised on arachnid-selling websites but not in trade databases.

According to Alice Hughes, a conservation biologist at the University of Hong Kong and the study’s author, wildlife trade is a “major issue” for biodiversity. However, she claims that the illegal sale of larger, more “charismatic” animals is perceived to be the larger issue.

“However, just because they are traded lawfully does not mean they are sustainable,” she added.

The researchers looked into global arachnid trades from 2000 to 2021 by combining data from the United States Law Enforcement Management Information System with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s international trade databases, which include detailed information on global online arachnid retailers.

The researchers discovered that 77 percent of emperor scorpions were caught in the wild, with 1 million being brought into the United States alone during the study period.

According to the researchers, more than half of all tarantula species have been sold, including 600,000 Grammostola tarantulas, which include the common pet variety Chilean rose tarantulas.

According to the study, two-thirds of all traded arachnids were wild-caught, which could have detrimental consequences for wild populations if gathered in an unsustainable manner.

“I don’t think anyone buying these animals realises how likely it is that that animal was walking around a rainforest or a desert somewhere a few of weeks ago,” Hughes said. “As a result, this poses a significant threat to the species’ long-term existence.”

According to the experts, the lack of market control could make these species vulnerable to unsustainable harvesting and trafficking.

Hughes called the findings “scary” because of the potential damage to the species.

To make matters worse, the researchers discovered that the International Union for Conservation of Nature had only assessed 1% of the over 1 million known invertebrate species. Furthermore, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora regulates just a small percentage of invertebrate species, such as 39 of the 52,060 documented spider species.

“These are underappreciated and neglected taxa that are endangered by the pet trade,” she explained.

According to the authors, the absence of data suggests that the vulnerability of these highly traded species is unknown, making the formulation of appropriate management or conservation plans “now nearly difficult.”

So scientists only include around 2% of all trade species, which is a vanishingly small proportion of all arachnids,” she explained. “However, 2% insight is practically nothing. It means that outside of those imposed by their country, 98 percent of species can be traded with no overarching rules.”

According to Hughes, the findings raises concerns about the people who buy these arachnids. There is no screening of potential owners, who are mostly young individuals who may release the animal when they no longer want it.

They might subsequently become an invasive species that competes with native species, or they could become infected with mites or other parasites that spread to other animals, according to Hughes.

The data show that millions of spiders, scorpions, and their relatives are bought and sold, highlighting the urgent need to monitor trade in order to avert biodiversity losses, according to the researchers. Hughes advised pet owners to use caution while purchasing one of these animals.

“All people need to know is that when they buy an unusual pet, they should check out where it came from,” she said.

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