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Tarantula is on the loose at UMass Lowell

It's not a good week at University of Massachusetts Lowell for students with arachnophobia.

Aragog, a 4-to-5-inch tarantula named for the fictional spider from the Harry Potter series, is missing within Olsen Hall on the campus. A sign posted in the building, according to The Lowell Sun, said the spider is not dangerous, but does bite and should be handled with care.

The university said in a statement Friday that authorities are conducting a "thorough search of the building where the spider is confined."

Because the spider is shy and afraid of people, school officials believe it will be in an isolated spot, the statement said.


Rick Hochberg, a biology professor leading the search for the tarantula, asked on the sign for anyone who has seen the spider to contact him at 978-934-2885 or go to his office at Olsen, 413A.

Hochberg did not return a message seeking comment.

Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.