If you’re the type of person who gets freaked out over creepy-crawlies, you’ve probably got at least one friend who loves to mess with you by quoting the oft-cited statistic that, every year, you swallow multiple spiders in your sleep. At first, you might’ve laughed this off — once you finished throwing up, anyway — but once you’ve heard it, you can’t un-hear it, much less stop imagining what it would feel like to wake up at the precise moment that eight furry legs are scuttling down your throat. Yikes!
Is it true? And if so, why would large spiders be dumb enough to wander into your gaping mouth, as you snore? And, on the most important note of all, how many of these buggers do you swallow in a given year?
The itsy bitsy spider, went down the human spout…
Most people will tell you that eight spiders plop down into your digestive system during your sleep every year. More hesitant folks will tell you that it’s probably just a few spiders, at most. Then, there’s Snopes, the internet’s number one fact-checker, who revealed the real number back in 2001: zero. Yes, that’s right, nada. You don’t swallow any spiders in your sleep, whether in a year, a decade, or your entire life.
This whole “eight spiders a year” shebang is basically just an American tall tale for the digital age, which stubbornly refuses to die out … probably because, admittedly, it’s a great prank to play on squeamish people. It’s possible that the myth may have first entered public awareness via a 1993 article in PC Professional, as a purposeful example of an inaccurate fact that you’d have to be gullible to believe (oops), though the article itself doesn’t exist online. To further debunk the legend, Mental Floss interviewed Rod Crawford, Curator of Arachnids at Seattle’s Burke Museum, who pointed out that the average human bed gets only 1-2 spider visits a year, and these eight-legged creatures avoid mattresses like the plague once humans are shuffling about in it. Spiders aren’t stupid, you know: they don’t want to get squashed. They also aren’t looking to get sucked into somebody’s digestive system. Thus, it’s highly unlikely that a spider would waltz into a big ol’ mouth hole that continually gushes out hot air, for the sake of … what, exactly? That doughnut crumb you failed to brush out of your back molar? C’mon.
Besides that, there’s also the problematic truth that plenty of humans don’t sleep with their mouths open, in the first place. Now, some people out there who will tell you that they personally experienced the spider swallowing phenomenon firsthand, and hey, they might be telling the truth. They’re lacking proof, though, as Scientific American points out, since they tend to flush the arachnid “evidence” down the you-know-what.
Bottom line? Don’t worry too much about spiders getting into your mouth … unless you’re buying a package of edible, dehydrated tarantulas on Amazon or trying to become Spiderman.
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