Spiders actually have tiny little paws and now they're the cutest animal on Earth

Spiders actually have tiny little paws and now they're the cutest animal on Earth

Very few people actually like spiders. Even if you're not an arachnophobe, you probably don't have an active affinity for the creatures. Those who do, and keep them as pets, are often branded as strange. But you might find out why these spider-lovers are the way they are after taking a closer look at these fascinating creatures.

Because as it turns out, tarantulas aren't that different from our cats and dogs. On the end of each of their little legs is a cute paw-like pad called a "tarsus." As only one of the eight parts that form a spider's leg, it may seem like these small pads hold little importance - but au contraire.

A man holding a tarantula. Credit: Getty

Nearly 600,000 strands of hair make up colourful tufts on each paw. Because there are so many on each appendage, the dense fur helps arachnids to scale vertical objects and even walk on glass. Tarantulas also have small claws protruding from each paw to improve their grip.

All of this isn't just for looks. These paws help tarantulas sense changes in their surrounding environment to avoid danger. They act as both their ears and nose, helping them to detect sounds and smells around them.

With around 900 tarantula species, no two cute, little paws are the same. Some tarantulas have larger adorable "feet" than others with legs that can span up to 30 cm, which is the average size of your dinner plate. But don't let these guys anywhere near your nightly meal.

However, after watching a video like this, I can see why you'd still be terrified of these minibeasts:

All arthropods, which includes insects, arachnids, and crustaceans, have a tarsus. But most don't look this cute up-close. Just ask Michael Pankratz, who has a very special foot fetish. The photographer shoots tarantula feet. Not only can you see their soft, cute paws in his photos but also the tiny, colourful hairs and sharp little claws.

He's raised more than 100 of the creatures that have contributed to his tens of thousands of photos. The 54-year-old artist told Yahoo News that photographing the spiders helped assuage the fear he had of them as a child:

"Through these macro lenses and their images, we’re able to travel into the world of our minuscule subjects, to go eye-to-eye with them in a direct encounter. True, they’re experienced as larger than life — and yet the reality may be that it’s only in this manner that they’re seen and experienced as they genuinely are."

Even if these photos didn't make you want to keep a tarantula in your house as a pet, hopefully you've shifted your view on the stereotypically 'disgusting' creatures. Change the stigma around spiders. They need love too!