“There were a lot of sweaty moments”
Image via Flickr
The Chester Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the UK, made history in August by successfully breeding one of the world’s rarest, and quite frankly creepiest, spiders.
On August 12, the zoo announced the birth of more than 200 Montserrat tarantulas with a video on Twitter fit for horror movies everywhere.
*WORLD FIRST* We've succeeded in the first recorded breeding of the Montserrat tarantula...and there's 200 of them! https://t.co/oREYDhMn90— Chester Zoo (@Chester Zoo) 1471014506
While the spiders look terrifying, their breeding and birth is a monumental step forward for the tiny creatures. The birth marks the fist successful breeding of the arachnids while in captivity, giving researchers an unprecedented look at the behavior of this rare species of tarantulas.
In the birth announcement Dr. Gerado Garcia, the zoo’s lower vertebrates and invertebrates curator, wrote, "The data we’ve been able to gather and knowledge we’ve developed over the last three years since the adults first arrived has led us to this first ever successful, recorded breeding and hopefully these tiny tarantulas will uncover more secrets about the behavior, reproduction and life cycle of the species."
The hardest part of the breeding process? Ensuring the female Montserrat tarantulas didn’t kill and eat the males in the process. "It's kind of a race against time, whether you can synchronize the sexual maturity between individuals," Garcia told the BBC, adding, "The female can take it as a prey, rather than a partner. There were a lot of sweaty moments."
What can be worse than the female spiders attempting to eat their perspective mates? How about all the spiders totally disappearing.
As Garcia noted, after a few successful breeding sessions, the three pregnant females burrowed into the ground and disappeared. So the researchers just had to sit and wait. Eventually, “spiders started popping out of the earth like crazy,” Garcia said. “From one single burrow, one female, we had about 200 tarantulas—tiny spiderlings."
Don’t worry too much about the new baby tarantulas. As the researchers also point out, they are not harmful to humans. Unless of course they scare you to death in the middle of the night.