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October 29, 2008

Where do Spiders go in the Winter?

Inspired by Andree's Tarantula siting, and as the weather is turning chilly, I wonder where do spiders go in the winter time? Do they hibernate?

Yes and No. Spiders, as well as all other arachnids, are cold blooded. Their body temperatures are the same as the environment around them and cannot regulate their body temperatures themselves as warm blooded animals do. This means that in the winter time, as the air begins to chill and the ground freezes, spiders' body temperature gets cold, too. This accounts for the influx of spiders found in our homes as they search for warmer environments to keep their bodies warm. But many spiders simply die in the winter, leaving behind their egg sacs to hatch when the weather gets warmer in the spring. This also means that most spiders only live for less than a year. But what about the spiders that live for longer?

Female tarantulas have been documented to live 30 or 40 years! It usually takes about 2 to 5 years for most tarantula species to reach sexual maturity, but in some species it can take up to 10 years! The males usually only live for about 1.5 years after reaching sexual maturity and then spend their lives finding a mate. This makes the more susceptible to predation as they search for potential mates while females generally stick to the safety of their burrows. If these spiders can live for so long, how do they survive the winter cold?

Tarantulas hibernate in the winter, as do many other spiders, by hiding beneath tree bark or under rocks, leaves, and other types of insulating debris. Some spiders will spin a winter nest around themselves under loose bark to insulate themselves in and keep warm. Most spiders however, including tarantulas, don't enter a true hibernation, but remain more in a sedate state where on warmer and sunnier days they emerge to hunt prey that is easy to catch in their dormant state. They will leave their hibernation when the weather warms up and the warm air unlocks their muscles from their dormant state.

Sources:
  • http://www.spiderzrule.com/answers.htm
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantula

3 comments:

Koula said...

I wanted to thank you for your information on spiders hibernating. My 8 year old son has a Peruvian Rose hair that he is very attached to (Harry the Tarantula), who for the first time in 3 years, dug himself into his burrow, webbed around it and locked himself in. We have worked hard over the years getting his habitat just right, so we didn't know if he was dead or hibernating. You described everything perfectly - I'm fairly confident he's alive...and resting...at least I hope so! Thanks again for the information, you made my little boys day!

melanie said...

My tarantula, Muffy, is doing the same thing. She has a half log in her tank-- she covered both sides with web and it almost looks like she kicked up the bedding onto the webs and she closed herself right in. I assumed she was hibernating. We checked on her and she is still alive, but we haven't seen her out since December.

Anonymous said...

Great info thnx.