Spiders sometimes eat snakes too

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Research shows that sneaky snakes sometimes face a strong opponent: a spider.

Snakes are on the menu of animals, big cats and farm animals. But not only mammals like porridge. From a new study, an unexpected animal snake bites meat: spider.

Spiders that eat snakes
Spiders are mostly pesticides. But occasionally they expand their menu by catching and swallowing small snakes. The researchers decided to conduct a meta-analysis to get to the bottom of this bizarre phenomenon. It is noteworthy that their results are minimal.

Continents
Discoveries show that spiders occasionally feed on a snake on every continent except Antarctica. Less than eighty percent of the incidents investigated occurred in the United States and Australia. In Europe, on the other hand, this eating behavior of spiders is very rare (less than 1 percent of all reported cases). In some of these cases, European spiders also hunt small, non-venomous snakes that belong to the group Diplophyde (Screw tubes) made available. Incidentally, no incident has been reported in Switzerland in which a spider has eaten a snake. One possible explanation for this is that the native snakes and vipers are very large and heavy for Swiss spiders, even when they hatch.

Different spiders
By the way, many species of spider occasionally eat a snake as a tasty snack. Spiders from fewer than eleven different families are also to blame for this. “Many groups of spiders sometimes eat snakes, which is a completely new discovery,” says researcher Martin Nieffler.

Black widow
The most successful snake hunter is the black widow. It is a spider belonging to the ball spider and can grow up to approx. 3.8 cm (including legs). In half of all observed incidents, only this spider could defeat the undisputed snake. The black widow’s strong venom is particularly targeted at the spines’ nervous system and kills them. They also make interesting nets from very hard silk that they can use to catch large prey such as lizards, frogs, rats and snakes.

A clumsy Chemophora coccinia is hunting a black widow. Image: Trisha Haas

Another interesting new discovery: spiders can eat snakes from seven different families. Not just the little ones. It turns out that spiders can defeat snakes 10 to 30 (!) Times less. The largest snakes caught by spiders are no less than three feet long. The smallest is only six centimeters tall. The average length of the snake caught was 26 cm. Most of them are very young, just models. The ability of spiders to transform into larger prey at times is due to their stronger neurotoxins and stronger, harder webs.

Rattlesnakes and coral snakes
Trapped snakes are nothing but helpless: around 30 percent are poisonous. However, spiders in the United States and South America sometimes kill poisonous rattlesnakes and even coral snakes. For example, the Australian brown snake, which is part of the same family as the cobra, often hunts the average red-backed spider. “Brown snakes are the most poisonous in the world,” emphasizes Knifeler. “It’s so fascinating to see them lose fights with spiders.”

When a spider catches a snake, it can often feast on such a large prey for hours or even days. Spiders eat very irregularly. When they get a lot to eat, they overeat and sometimes go hungry again. Incidentally, spiders rarely eat their entire plate. For example, they often only eat a small part of a dead snake. Gardeners such as ants, wasps, flies, and mushrooms then dig up the remains of the victim.

Did you know already…

Have researchers ever wondered that a snake nearly four inches tall would end up in the stomach of a tarantula? The snake crawled to its own destruction as it unmistakably invaded the spider’s grass. Read the whole story here!



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