Friday, 14 March 2014

Weird and Wonderful: Pelican Spiders!

Scared of spiders? Well these tiny arachnids may only be a couple of millimetres in length but they have large jewel-like venom filled fangs which they use to stab their prey at such a fast speed that the victim is often left impaled. Fortunately these spiders are only found in Australia, Madagascar and South Africa and prey upon mainly small insects and spiders. They are often referred to as Pelican spiders due to their bizarre shape, which from certain angles can resemble that of the Pelican bird. A long elongated neck with a small rounded head on top, designed to support their long jaws.

These spiders tend not to build webs but creep through leaves and foliage where they can easily search out their prey. These spiders us their six hind limbs for walking and use their front two limbs to detect prey. Pelican spiders often seek out the silk trail of other spider species and tend to wait at the edge of a spider’s web until it can catch it. They will often trick the prey spider by plucking at the web so that the spider heads that way in search of its own prey. The Pelican spiders wait very patiently but attack with such speed that they are often referred to as the assassins of the spider world.

Check out this animation of the pelican spider's attack strategy 

*Photo by Paul Bertner