Chester Zoo in England managed to successfully breed one of the world’s rarest, and quite frankly creepiest, tarantula. On the 12th of August, the zookeepers announced the birth of over 200 Montserrat tarantulas. The birth of the tiny tarantulas represents the first successful breeding of the creatures while in captivity.
This is a great opportunity for researchers to study the behavior of this rare tarantula species.
Tarantulas comprise a group of large and often hairy arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders, of which approximately 900 species have been identified. Their sizes range from as small as a fingernail to as large as a dinner plate when the legs are fully extended. Depending on the species, the body length of tarantulas ranges from 2.5 to 10 centimeters with leg spans of 8–30-centimeters. Some of the largest species of tarantula may weigh over 85 grams.
Dr. Gerado Garcia, the zoo’s lower vertebrates and invertebrates’ curator was asked about the hardest part of the breeding process. He then answered that ensuring that the female doesn’t eat the male in the process was their biggest concern.
Joining the two genders for mating was a sensitive process, as the procedure is dangerous for the males, who can die after the encounter. The female could have considered her male a prey instead of a partner and attempt to eat him.
After a long wooing process, three of the female tarantulas were pregnant and then disappeared for a good period of time. For several months after the pregnancy, the females dug a burrow in the ground and vanishes. They weren’t seen feeding and nobody knew what was going on. After several months tiny spiders crawled out of the ground without warning.
The scientists are taking care of the tiny creature feeding them small flies and keeping them in individual pots. After one or two years, the adult spiders will also be bred.
Scientists consider that breeding these tarantulas is a big deal because there is so little they know about the species. The description of the species has been made based only on a single male specimen that has been collected over 100 years ago.
What is already known about the Montserrat tarantulas is that the males live for about 2.5 years while the females can live for much longer.