Spider versus snake: the mammoth battle
THE EPIC STRUGGLE FOR life between an immense golden orb spider and a writhing brown tree snake has been caught on video.
Photographer Ant Hadleigh said he was in a mate’s backyard near Cairns when he noticed the spider had caught the snake in its web and was trying to slowly devour it.
“I think the snake had gone after the spider and then got caught in the spider’s web,” says Ant. “We watched it for about an hour as the spider took bites out of the snake. The snake would struggle and then, when it got tired, the spider would sneak up and give it a bite.”
Mammoth battle between a spider and snake
The two predators battled for about five hours, says Ant.
“We could see the snake’s skin bubbling up where the spider had bitten it.”
Ant says he saw the same spider catch and eat a wasp the day before. “Some people thought [the spider- snake battle] was set-up but I guarantee you there was nothing set-up about it.”
Taking on the golden orb spider
Golden orb spiders usually only eat the small insects and locusts that fly into their large webs, which sometimes measure 1m or more wide. The enormity of their webs, however, is also known to ensnare small bats and birds.
Dr Robert Raven, senior curator of arachnida at the Queensland Museum, says the venom of golden orb spiders is not known to be particularly dangerous to vertebrate species and probably was not the fatal part of the snake’s attack.
“This spider has bitten the snake mid-body and the lungs extend well along there,” says Robert. “The large fangs and heavy chelicerae (mouthpart) has pinched right through to the lung and thus it is the lung fluid that is bubbling out.”
Giant golden orb spiders (Nephila pilipes) vary in size based on sex. Females are often up to 4cm in length whereas as the comparatively small male is usually only 5-6mm in length. The leg span of a female can be up to 15cm wide.
Golden Orb spiders are found in warm climates throughout Oceania, Southeast Asia, South America and parts of African continent.
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