Bats Beware of Spiders

spider bat

A spider examines the bat caught in its web. (Photo Credit: Yasunori Maezono, Kyoto University)

Bats have an eight-legged predator, and it’s not an octopus.

It may sound impossible, but spiders are eating bats. Research published in PLoS ONE last month has collated 50 reports of spiders predating on bat species. Worryingly for arachnophobes everywhere, these large spiders have been observed worldwide.

Several families of spider have been implicated displaying this behaviour. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of these are web-builders, able to catch the flying bats in their webs. This includes the large orb-weavers who can spin webs up to 1.5 metres in diameter.

Most at risk are the small insectivorous bats living in warm areas, with over 90% of incidences occurring in the tropical regions and the Vespertilionidae bat family accounting for 64% of observed prey.

Although in many of these events, the bats may have died of exhaustion or dehydration after becoming tangled in the web, almost 12% of reports comprised of hunting spiders actively seeking out and killing bats.

This study was the first of its kind to examine the extent of bat predation by spiders, and the findings suggest that these events are more widespread than previously thought.

  1. Nyffeller, M. and Knörnschild, M. (2013) Bat predation by spiders. PLoS ONE. 8(3): 58120. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058120

Feature Photo credit: Jasmic / / CC BY-NC-ND

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