JOPLIN, Mo. — Just saying the word “tarantula” is enough to send shivers down the spines of many Missourians.

While the Show-Me State is home to a species of that family of arachnids, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation says there’s really no reason to fear or hate the animal even though it looks frightening. In fact, many people have them inside their homes as pets.

“They are Missouri’s largest spider but they’re quite docile, and the only way they’ll bite you is in self-defense. What they’re looking for is insects and slugs and stuff like that. They will not bother you at all. You won’t even see them. They’re mainly nocturnal,” said Francis Skalicky, Media Specialist, Missouri Department of Conservation.

The creepy crawlers are part of the Shoal Creek Education Center Critter Spotlight this month.

If you’d like to learn more about them, you can visit the center or click here.