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Pregnant tarantula hoax causes NYC social media frenzy

Here’s another one for the “don’t believe everything you read on the Internet” files.

A missing poster for a pregnant pet tarantula on the loose in Brooklyn set social media abuzz Friday after it was posted to Reddit Thursday night.

“MISSING,” read the flier posted to a utility pole in South Slope, “Have you seen Penelope? She’s a Mexican Red Rump Tarantula.” Showing a photo of a large, furry spider with a hairy red posterior -- which turns out to be the first Google Images result for this species of spider -- the flier turned out to be a joke.

But not everyone was in on it.

Residents and local media alike zeroed in on the poster’s most sensational lines. “She shouldn’t bite, but sometimes jumps when frightened,” it read. “She’s pregnant, so I’m hoping to find her before she has her babies.”

After dialing the contact number on the poster, though, the New York Times confirmed it was a hoax.

“I always see those signs for missing dogs and cats taped up on posts; I thought, ‘What’s the most absurd poster I could come up with?’ ” said the man who answered the Times’ call, refusing to identify himself. “I thought it was so beyond ridiculous that no one would take it seriously. I was wrong.”

While Penelope the pregnant tarantula has been confirmed as fictional, that hasn’t stopped “her” from creating her own Twitter feed. Using the handle @BKTarantula, a Twitter user has begun tweeting from her point of view. “What does Peter Parker know about a ‘Spidey sense tingling?’ Want tingling? Try hundred of babies writhing in your belly,” read one tweet.

See more of our favorites from @BKTarantula below:


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