A New View on Spiders

I know about a dozen people with arachnophobia. Which I just don’t get, but I’m terrified of wild mice and rats (I’m fine with domesticated rats though, go figure), so I don’t get to throw stones at people who are afraid of spiders. However, I do think it’s time to give spiders a little respect. Some spider species keep really cute pets.

The giant tarantula is the fifth largest spider in the world. Leg span on one of these things from leg tip to leg tip averages 28 cm long (11 inches). And they keep the world’s smallest frogs as pets. Microhylid frogs average just 1.5cm long (less than an inch). Both species are native to Central and South America.

Microhylid frogs are small enough to be eaten by Giant Tarantulas. But instead, the two have formed a mutually beneficial relationship. Scientists have speculated that microhylid frogs taste terrible to Giant Tarantulas, which is why the spiders don’t eat them. And that works out great in the end for both species…

The most common predator of giant tarantulas are ants that eat the eggs of the giant tarantula. The primary food source for microhylid frogs, are ants. And the most common predator of microhylid frogs are small birds. Which is good for the tarantulas. Giant tarantulas are big enough that many species of small birds are on the menu.

Microhylid frogs protect Giant Tarantula eggs and in return, they get to pal around with female Giant Tarantulas who are bigger than the males. And the female spiders provide protection for the microhylid frogs from predators such as birds.

As a matter of fact, the relationship is so common, that scientists have begun searching for Giant Tarantulas using microhylid frogs as indicators a female is near and vice versa – where a female giant tarantula can be found, a microhylid frog can also be found. About the only time microhylid frogs ditch their spider friend is during mating season, when the number of microhylid frogs drop because of predation.

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