A First in Science – Tarantula Eats a Foot-long Snake

A First in Science – Tarantula Eats a Foot-long Snake Bay Area Blond Tarantula / Creative Commons / Flickr

It’s not every day that scientists come across a tarantula eating a foot-long snake. Leandro Malta Borges of Brazil’s Federal University made a grisly discovery on October 23, 2015: the first recorded instance of a tarantula eating a snake.

When Borges and other scientists turned over a rock while hunting for tarantulas, his group came across something they did not expect to see. The tarantula, called Grammostola quirogai, was enjoying its food that happened to be an Almaden ground snake (Erythrolamprus almadensis).

According to National Geographic, it was the first time a tarantula was seen preying on a snake. Underneath the rock, the non-venomous snake was ripped to shreds by the large spider. “Predation of such a large snake in relation to the size of the spider was extremely surprising to us,” said Borges.

In the researchers’ description, which they published in Herpetology Notes, they noted the snake’s croak to an accidental break-in. “Most likely, the snake was surprised upon entering the spider’s environment and hence [was] subdued by it.”

In Brazil, specifically in Serra do Caverá, many sedentary females hide in the rocks. Per the Live ScienceGrammostolas are hand-size arachnids and are popular aquarium pets.

Other Grammostolas were effectuated to eat snakes in captivity. Borges and his group wrote that the spider’s behavior hasn’t been seen in the wild.

On the other hand, another creature called the Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) has fed on a viper. However, researchers reportedly engineered the encounter between the two species.

“There are other records of spiders preying on snakes, such as the famous black widow, which has a strong toxin and, besides, rely on the web for capturing,” Leandro said. But tarantulas don’t spin webs to trap prey.

Tarantula Kills A Foot- Long Snake

To be able to kill the snake, the spider, for sure, exerted its 0.8-inch-long fangs. The researchers said, though, that it’s difficult to say what exactly caused the snake’s death.

“We also know that they eat frogs and lizards, and I’ve found them eating a small mouse,” says Leandro. “It is very gratifying to contribute to this record, since, as far as we know, there are only cases documented from situations in captivity.”

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