Spiders Eat Small Fish: University of Basel Research

Spiders Eat Small Fish: University of Basel Research

Spiders love eating insects, but a new research finds there is a lot more that arachnids eat. The research suggests that there are at least two dozen species of spiders that occasionally like to prey on little freshwater fish.

Such spiders can be found in every continent except Antarctica. There can be times when the fish on which the spiders prey could be bigger. Some species of spiders can walk on water and some are capable of making small dives as well.

Zoologist Martin Nyffeler from University of Basel in Switzerland, lead author of the study, said generally, the fish on which the spiders prey on are between two and six centimeters in length.

Though it was earlier said that some spiders consume fish, the recent study is considered the first systematic review of the topic. The review unveiled that the practice is far more common than previously considered and is also geographically widespread.

"Feeding on fish may be particularly advantageous during the mating period when the elevated energy and protein requirements of gravid (pregnant) female spiders require increased food intake", said Nyffeler.

The arachnids have been observed at edges of shallow freshwater streams, ponds, swamps and fens, said researchers. They are mainly found in the warmer areas of the world between 40° S and 40° N. The Florida wetlands and its neighboring regions are hot spots of such spiders.

These spiders are able to swim and even walk on the water surface. They may hunt by anchoring their hind legs to a stone or plant and keep their front legs ready for the ambush. After the attack, spider takes fish to a dry place and begins the feeding process.

At least 18 spider species from five families have been observed that were preying on fish in the wild. Six more species have been documented doing the same under laboratory conditions.

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