A YATE MAN lives with a collection of more than 700 tarantulas. 

Aaron Phoenix, 36, started accumulating the spiders in summer 2021 to help with his mental health.

He keeps them all in his "tarantula cave" - and says the biggest is the size of a dinner plate.

Aaron, from Yate, lives with the spiders alongside his partner, Jo, 47, and her two teenage daughters.

But he's in the process of finding a separate premises for the tarantulas - as he's still growing his collection.

Aaron, a house removals specialist, said: “I couldn't give you an exact number, but I have more than 700.

"Even though it sounds cheesy I was born to do this.

“People always ask if I’m kidding when I tell them how many spiders I have - they ask if there is something wrong with me.

Gazette Series: Yate man Aaron Phoenix lives with a collection of more than 700 tarantulas. “But everyone has their hobby, what they like to do. Some people like to go to the gym - and I like to collect tarantulas.

“All in all, I’ve rescued 120 spiders in the last year or so - it’s just my life really, it’s everything to me.

“I don’t think there could ever be a limit with me, as soon as I had one, I knew I wanted more.

“As long as I know that I can look after them and give them basic care then I’m happy.”

Aaron first started collecting when doctors told him a hobby could help his mental health following a bipolar diagnosis.

The inspiration came from a pet tarantula he had as a teen, but tragically had to give up.

His collection quickly grew – and now he rescues abandoned arachnids from around the country, as well as working towards being able to sell the animals to other collectors and spider-lovers.

Now he’s even started offering visits to kid's parties – giving youngsters and parents alike the chance to safely experience the beasts up close.

He said: “I’ve got a premises so I can have my own spider store, I’m working on a website and travelling around the country rescuing spiders. 

“At the moment I have a designated room in my house, my tarantula cave.

“I have a full-time job doing house removals, but as things have developed, I’ve realised this is what I want to do."