Winning Best in Show at the British Tarantula Society Annual Exhibition is all about timing and perfection.
Freshly molted adult spiders are typically frontrunners for the illustrious title as their colors are at their brightest.
Judges also look for shiny coats, correct proportions, an active demeanor and proper stance — meaning all eight legs should be upright and perfectly poised.
This year, the society's 29th annual exhibition took place on May 18 and was attended by more than 30,000 tarantulas and their keepers.
The top prize went to a Socotra Island blue baboon spider owned by Mike Dawkins, a relative newcomer who only started keeping tarantulas in 2011.
Dawkins, who has 60 spiders, competed at the show for the first time.
"I was very surprised to win Best African Species, let alone the Best in Show," he told National Geographic. "That really shocked me."
Although winning doesn't make a tarantula more valuable, it does earn you respect in the tarantula-breeding community, according to Ryan Hale, who's been a judge at the exhibition since 2005.
Hale has been British Tarantula Society member for more than 20 years and has watched the exhibition grow over the years.
"People take their tarantulas seriously, and we soon realized we had a genuinely competitive show on our hands — in its own way quite a bit like Crufts," he said. "We've had people come from all around the continent and as far away as America and Hong Kong."
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