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Spider fighting group spins off a web of camaraderie too

SPIDER WAR: The age-old tradition of catching and fighting spiders is still alive and kicking, with a group of enthusiasts meeting regularly to pit their pets against each other.


    Feb 23, 2016

    Spider fighting group spins off a web of camaraderie too

    BEFORE there were arcades, mobile phone games and PlayStations, catching spiders was a common pastime among children.

    Chan Chun Kwong, 43, hopes to revive this passion. In November, he and a few friends started the group, Fighting Spiders Singapore, online.

    In just three months, the group has grown to over 20 members.

    The 43-year-old yard planner said: "When we were young, many of us had this hobby. I was sure I was not the only one who missed catching and fighting spiders."

    Most of the members are around 30 years old and, like Mr Chan, grew up with this hobby.

    They meet twice a week at about 8pm at community centres or parks.

    The spider that the members catch is commonly known as the jumping spider. During meet-ups, members discuss their spiders and engage in friendly matches.

    Mr Chan also organises monthly competitions. Although there are no prizes, he said the showdowns are taken seriously because "(the competitors') pride is on the line".

    Alvin Pang, who is in his 30s and has been in the group since it started, said: "Different members train their spiders differently.

    "Some send their spiders for a lot of fights, some feed their spiders more, some even put a female spider together with a male one."

    During fights, two spiders are placed on a flat surface, facing each other.

    They fight until one backs away or falls out of the ring.

    "Many people think our spiders fight to the death but that never happens.

    "If a fight goes on for too long, we will blow on the spiders so that they will separate," said Mr Chan.

    But there is more to the group than just spider fights.

    Mr Chan said members regularly give each other spiders they have caught, new spider containers they have made and extra spider food.

    A 25-year-old member, who wanted to be known only as Terry, said: "We have become more than just a fighting spiders group, I have made many new friends here."

    The members also organise hunting sessions.

    Terry added: "Everyone has their own special catching methods and areas that they go to, and some are more secretive than others."

    Mr Chan said that during their hunts, there are two rules they do not break: No plucking of leaves or disturbing the spiders' natural habitat and no trespassing.

    He goes spider hunting with his son Caleb at a park in their Sengkang neighbourhood. He wanted the 12-year-old to get interested in his hobby too.

    "I'm just happy to keep this childhood game alive, be it among people who grew up playing (with spiders) like me or young people who are interested," he said.

    Caleb now regularly accompanies his father to meet the Fighting Spiders Singapore members.

    Caleb said: "I really enjoy it and I'm trying to get my friends interested in catching spiders too."

    He added, with a cheeky grin: "My favourite part is when my spider beats my father's."