AGONY AUNT: my spider with dusty legs is not eating!
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A VET NOR AN EXPERT BUT I DO CARE (which could be a dangerous mix)
I just saw this comment on the blog:
“I came down in night and found a small bodied leggy spider trussing up a bigger hairy type spider to kill. I rescued the hairy fella and started cutting the web threads binding its legs. It can now walk a bit but the threads are still stuck to it and as it walks any bits of dust or hair in its wake are sticking to it. It’s hungry as its abdomen is shrivelled and i found a little fly to feed it but this is just stuck to the residual web threads now. What shall I do?”
Dear fellow insect -rescuer
thank you for your note and for rescuing the big spider from the small spider – more compassion in the world is a good thing.
I recently made a promise on the blog that I would stick to only rescuing those creatures that were too big to fit into a tupperware dish as my life was becoming over-taken by answering the call of very small insects in the garden and house that were in distress but this doesn’t preclude me doing some research for you.
I realise that this might be a day or two late and that the spider might now be dead but still…
Is it possible for you to clean the web that is tangled around it feet? I was a bit confused by this one as I thought if any insect could deal with silk webbing a spider would be able to. But now I’ve looked online I see its fairly common for one spider to get caught on another’s web. I know it’s got eight legs so that’s a fair bit of work for you but maybe you could use a very small cloth with a dab of water? Or some tweezers? Don’t use a hair-dryer. You might also try a very small bit of sellotape (any brand will do) and twist it round your finger, sticky side out, and use a sort of dabbing technique to pull the dust off.
Don’t worry too much about it not eating – spiders can go for for months without food or water.
Then again it might have been like this for months. Sounds like it. This time of year is good for dead flies (I know, I’ve tried to rescue most of them) so a fly is a damn good meal for a hungry spider. But if its not eating perhaps try cutting it up (the fly that is) or mashing it (if you can bear the gore) so that its easier to digest. You could use a blender I suppose. I also found out online that spiders eat lots of other insects like ants, moths and crickets but they also like marmalade. Do you have marmalade? Although that could make his legs a whole lot stickier. Apparently they WON’T eat grapes. NO GRAPES. Spiders in captivity can feed on milk, egg yolk, sausages, and bananas. Ham and banana omlette?.
3) ONLINE RESOURCES
This is a nice little spider resource http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/348.shtml
I looked online for ‘spider rescues’ but it only came up with games about Spider Man rescuing Mary Jane, and also this article about a man dressed as spiderman rescuing an autistic boy in Thailand by using a glass of juice. It’s not much use, I know, but fairly touching still. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7961208.stm.
4) ONGOING CARE
If you want to keep it safe and keep an eye on it you can put it in a container WITH AIR HOLES and leave a fly covered in egg white inside. Yum!
Good luck. Let us know how you get on and how the spider is doing and if you have pictures please send it in. But not one of the fly in the blender! Yuk!
IF YOU HAVE AN ANIMAL-RELATED QUERY AND WANT A WELL-MEANING BUT POSSIBLY FACTUALLY INCORRECT REPLY PLEASE GET IN TOUCH. Thanks.