A new study recently showed snake-eating spiders, seemingly feasting upon serpents, an extraordinary and gruesome encounter between the two animal species.
According to a ScienceAlert report, venomous spiders are preying upon snakes, multiple times their size, and frequently emerge triumphant against the latter-mentioned, as poisonous as they are.
The study authors found 319 records of spiders killing and feasting upon snakes, 297 of which are naturally taking place in the wild.
The remaining 22 were reported to have been staged in captivity. Approximately one-third of those examples came from scientific experimentations published in various journals, while the rest were found on different social media and news sites.
The study's co-author, Martin Nyfeller, a University of Base conservation biologist who has previously reported on spiders that eat bats and other vertebrates said, the longer he deals with this problem, the more he realizes that certain spiders are accomplishing such incredible feats.
'Snacking' on Snakes
Reporting this month in the Journal of Arachnology, herpetologist J. Whitfield Gibbons, from Nyffeler and the University of Georgia, said snacking on snakes was extraordinarily prevalent, with over 30 spider species engaging in the practice of natural conditions and 11 more taking the opportunity in captivity.
Specifically, widow spiders were the most common spiders involved, accountable for about half the snake deaths.
This group comprises the infamous hourglass-marked black widow or Latrodectus mactans, L. Hesperus, or L. various, and relatives such as the L. indistinctus or African button spider.
These spiders are tiny, roughly 1.1 centimeters in size, and usually target small young snakes, although their venom is fatal enough to kill much larger animals.
Members of the tarantula family, Live Science reported, were accountable for another 10 percent of snake kills. These larger spiders are not building webs. Rather, they actively hunt prey on the ground or in trees.
Another 8.5 percent of predation occurrences were carried out by huge orb-weaver spiders, known as well, to catch and eat birds and bats.
These spiders are weaving large and very sturdy circular webs. Once the spiders kill the snakes, they suck their innards out, just as they would an insect.
Reports of spiders eating snakes came from every continent but Antarctica, although half of the occurrences reported in the United States and nearly one-third took place in Australia.
The study authors discovered evidence of spiders preying on more than 80 different snake species, snakes of the "colubrid family" being the most frequent victims.
This family comprises common species like garter snakes or Thamnophis cyrtopsis and rat snakes or Pantherophis guttatus, as described in the CAB International site, and their pervasiveness among spider victims possibly reflects the fact that they are the most abundant snake family on each continent but Australia, wrote Nyffeler and Gibbons in the paper.
Most of the snakes, spiders are attacking were babies or juveniles weighing less than one gram. However, spiders sometimes took down large snakes, too. The largest of which was up to 100 centimeters or 3.25 feet long, weighing several ounces.
Most of the snakes attacked by spiders were babies or juveniles weighing less than a gram. But spiders sometimes took down large serpents, too: The largest victims were up to 3.25 feet (100 centimeters) long and weighed several ounces.
Fatal Spider Attacks
Explaining their findings, the researchers said spider attacks were deadly to snakes in 86 percent of the reported cases, while only 1.5 percent of snakes could escape on their own.
Eleven percent more were rescued by human observers. Once a spider crushes a snake, it might take days to finish a meal.
In most circumstances, explained the researchers in their study, snakes are possibly a rare and lucky food for spiders that usually survive on insects.
However, some spiders, specifically tarantulas, might make snakes a part of their regular meal—meanwhile, Australian redback spiders, ThoughCo. Described, have been observed eating both snakes and lizards in large quantities, as well.
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