Peacock Spider

When a peacock spider dances, their life is literally on the line.

  • Peacock spiders are a genus of colourful arachnids, native to Australia, often found in coastal areas, but they also exist inland.
  • The scientific name of the peacock spider genus is Maratus and it is from the family Salticidae, the family of jumping spiders.
  • Peacock spiders are extremely small, and generally range in length from 3.5 to 6.5 mm (0.14 to 0.26 inches); and they do not create webs to catch food, rather their prey is stalked and leapt upon.
  • Male peacock spiders generally have an abdomen of bright metallic coloured patterns, from orange, blues, reds and greens.
  • Peacock spiders are well known for their complex movements that is likened to dancing, used by males to attract and court females.
Peacock Spider, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Colourful, Dance, Animal, Small, Arachnid, Orange, Courting, MaleA Male Peacock Spider
Image courtesy of Jurgen Otto/Flickr
  • If a male peacock spider fails to impress a female spider with their dance, the female will very likely eat the male, unless the male escapes by running off quickly.
  • German Jürgen Otto, who works as a biologist in Australia, has discovered a large number of new species in the genus, and is the leading research scientist on the spider, in conjunction with American jumping spider specialist, David Hill.
  • A single dance of a male peacock spider can last anywhere from four to fifty minutes, and movements can include leg waving above its body, and raising and flaring its abdomen in a similar way to a peacock feather train display, hence its common name.
  • Scientific documentation of peacock spiders was first undertaken by the English zoologist Octavius Pickard-Cambridge, in 1874.
  • Some species of ‘peacock spiders’ have been commonly named ‘flying spiders’ and ‘gliding spiders’, due to a false assumption that the flap on its abdomen is used to fly.
Bibliography:
Main D, The Amazing Mating Dance of the Peacock Spider, 2013, Live Science, http://www.livescience.com/39052-peacock-spider-mating-dance.html
Maratus Volans, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maratus_volans
Otto J & Hill D, Seven new peacock spiders from Western Australia and South Australia (Araneae: Salticidae: Euophryini: Maratus), 2016, Peckhamia, http://peckhamia.com/peckhamia/PECKHAMIA_141.1.pdf
The Peacock Spider – Maratus Volans, 2013, Amazing List, http://amazinglist.net/2013/02/the-peacock-spider-maratus-volans/
Wood S, Jurgen Otto and His Dancing Spiders, 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/jurgen-otto-and-his-dancing-spiders-20150520-gh61rs.html

Brazilian Wandering Spider

Does the venomous nature of the Brazilian wandering spider scare you?

  • Brazilian wandering spiders are a genus of arachnids, native to South America and Central America, and in particular, Brazil, where all species are present.
  • ‘Brazilian wandering spiders’ are also known as ‘armed spiders’ and, along with some other spider species, ‘banana spiders’.
  • The scientific name of the Brazilian wandering spider is Phoneutria and it is from the family Ctenidae, the family of wandering spiders.
  • There are eight species of Brazilian wandering spiders, some of which are known for their high venom toxicity.
  • Brazilian wandering spiders can grow to be 1.7 to 5 centimetres (0.7 to 2 inches) long, with a leg span of 10 to 18 centimetres (4 to 7 inches).

Brazilian Wandering Spider, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Arachnid, Venomous, Dangerous, Toxic, Banana

A Brazilian Wandering Spider
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Hairs are evident on Brazilian wandering spiders, and the spider tends to be a mostly brown colour, sometimes with red near the fangs.
  • For some years, the Brazilian wandering spider was listed as the spider being the most venomous on earth, by the Guinness World Records.
  • Brazilian wandering spiders do not spin webs, instead they find dark locations to hide in, and when it is night time, they come out hunting for crickets and other insects, along with lizards and frogs.
  • The venom of Brazilian wandering spiders can cause immense pain, the blocking of calcium absorption, inflammation, breathing issues, paralysis and muscle spasms, and even death if left untreated.
  • Brazilian wandering spiders may reside on banana plants, and sometimes the fruit has been exported across the globe with a spider accompanying it.
Bibliography:
Brazilian Wandering Spider, 2016, Animal Corner, https://animalcorner.co.uk/animals/brazilian-wandering-spider/
Brazilian Wandering Spider, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_wandering_spider
Phoneutria – introduction, 2013, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, http://www.wandering-spiders.net/phoneutria/introduction/
Szalay J, Brazilian Wandering Spiders: Bites & Other Facts, 2014, Live Science, http://www.livescience.com/41591-brazilian-wandering-spiders.html

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Northern Jewelled Spider

Northern jewelled spiders are of a value not defined by money.

  • Northern jewelled spiders are a species of small arachnid, native to Australia’s Queensland.
  • The scientific name of the northern jewelled spider is Gasteracantha fornicata and it is from the family Araneidae, the family of orb weavers.
  • In 1775, the northern jewelled spider was described and scientifically classified, being the first Australian spider to be named, by Johan Christian Fabricius, a zoologist from Denmark, from information collected from Cooktown, Australia, by Sir Joseph Banks and crew in 1770.
  • Northern jewelled spiders have a spiny, striped abdomen, with six spikes visible from the top – two protruding on each side, and two at the back.
  • The stripes of northern jewelled spiders are coloured maroon, brown or black, and white to yellow.

Northern Jewelled Spider, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Bug, Yellow, Brown, Australia, Queensland

  • Northern jewelled spiders have a diet that consists of various insects – effectively whatever is caught in the spider’s web.
  • Female northern jewelled spiders can reach a width of 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) and a length of a single centimetre (0.4 inches), while males are significantly smaller and differ to the females in appearance.
  • Northern jewelled spiders are most often found constructing webs in their rainforest habitats, and the completed webs can have a diameter as large as 2 metres.
  • The bite of northern jewelled spiders is essentially harmless to humans, primarily due to the spider’s small size.
  • The egg sacs of northern jewelled spiders are of a brilliant green colour, with an appearance of loosely woven spindly silk, and they are typically found on tree trunks and leaves, where they are camouflaged.
Bibliography:
Gasteracantha fornicata, 2013, The Find-A-Spider Guide, http://www.findaspider.org.au/find/spiders/644.htm
Gasteracantha forricata, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasteracantha_fornicata
Gasteracantha fornicata (Fabricius, 1775), n.d, Arachne, http://www.arachne.org.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=2375
Northern Jewelled Spider (Gasteracantha fornicata), 2015, Cooper Creek Wilderness, http://coopercreek.com.au/northern-jewelled-spider-gasteracantha-fornicata/

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Mexican Redknee Tarantula

You would be glad to hear that Mexican redknee tarantulas are not something to fear.

  • Mexican redknee tarantulas are a species of spider found in the forests of the Mexican mountain ranges in southern North America, and they have become a popular pet, though they are listed as ‘near threatened’ and are now somewhat protected.
  • The scientific name of a Mexican redknee tarantula is Brachypelma smithi and it is from the family Theraphosidae, the family of tarantulas.
  • ‘Mexican redknee tarantulas’ are also known as ‘red knee tarantulas’, ‘red-kneed tarantulas’, ‘Mexican red-knee tarantulas’ and ‘Mexican red-kneed tarantulas’.
  • Numerous small hairs can be found on Mexican redknee tarantulas, and the spider is primarily brown to black in colour with orange to red coloured patches on each leg joint.
  • Mexican redknee tarantulas are generally between 12 to 14 centimetres (4.7 to 5.5 inches) long and weigh 15 to 16 grams (0.5 to 0.6 ounces), while females are typically larger than males.

Mexican Redknee Tarantula, Arachnid, Spider, Red, Zoo, Sandy, Crawl, Hairy, Animal

  • The diet of a Mexican redknee tarantula consists primarily of insects, rodents and frogs, but also birds and other mammals, that are captured at the entrance of the spider’s burrow where it makes a web, and paralyses and liquefies the prey using its venom.
  • Through an extensive molting process, Mexican redknee tarantulas can restore any limbs or other bodily extensions that have been lost.
  • Female Mexican redknee tarantulas typically live to be 20 to 30 years, however a male’s lifespan is much shorter, at around 5 to 10 years.
  • When feeling threatened, a Mexican redknee tarantula can defend itself using its bite, however it prefers to display its fangs and shoot barbed hairs from its abdomen.
  • A female Mexican redknee tarantula lays from 200 to 400 or more eggs at one time, that are gathered into a silk web sack, which hatch after one to three months, and the young exit the sack approximately three weeks after hatching.
Bibliography:
Giesler A & Zaitz D, Brachypelma smithi, 2011, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Brachypelma_smithi/
Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula, 2010, Australian Reptile Park, http://www.reptilepark.com.au/animalprofile.asp?id=135
Mexican Redknee Tarantula, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_redknee_tarantula
Red Knee Tarantula, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/red-knee-tarantula/
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