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Spiders hunt and even kill snakes – with great success

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

Spiders prey on insects – at least that’s how you imagine it. But their diet is by no means limited to that. An article in the journal “Journal of Arachnology” shows that snakes are also on the menu of eight-legged creatures.

Spiders that catch snakes – this strange phenomenon has been scientifically observed 319 times according to an article in the “Journal of Arachnology”. 

Species like a large-sized species of the wolf spider family (Lycosidae) manage to catch often much larger snakes in their nets and then eat them.

Very few snakes can break free from a spider’s web

Overall, there are reports on around 90 species of snakes that have been captured by around 40 species of spiders, says spider researchers Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel and Whitfield Gibbons from the American University of Georgia in their contribution. 

Half of the incidents were documented in the USA, around a third in Australia.

Spiders are extremely successful in their prey hunt: According to the study, almost nine out of ten snakes were killed, only 1.5 percent were able to free themselves, the others were rescued by humans.

Snakes up to one meter long are captured

According to the study, spiders kill and eat snakes up to one meter long, but most often very young, newly hatched animals. On average, the snakes caught are about 26 cm long. 

The spider family of Theridiidae, also known as the tangle-web spiders, cobweb spiders and comb-​footed spiders, which is only about one centimetre long, is most successful in hunting. The most successful snake hunter is the black widow spider. 

Its neurotoxin, which is specific to vertebrates, and its particularly tear-resistant nets help it catch prey. It also belongs to the Theridiidae family.

Even the venom of the snakes does not deter the spiders. The red-backed spider overwhelms the dummy cobras, which belong to the same family as the cobras. 

“These pseudo cobras are among the most venomous snakes in the world, and it is very fascinating to see that they are defeated when fighting with spiders,” says Nyffeler. 

But the relationship between the species is not one-sided: the non-poisonous snakes (Colubridae) in particular feed on spiders.

Image Credit: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images and Research photos by Ori Segev

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