🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Black Velvet Spider

If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive.
~American Quaker Saying


This black Velvet Spider has lived in the bark of an old log in my garden for approximately 2 years now and she lets me coax her out for a photographic session every now and then. These spiders are robust and deliberate in the way that they walk and she even allows me to gently stroke her abdomen and thorax, which is covered in thick, smooth, velvety hairs.

The velvet spiders (family Eresidae) are a small group (about 100 species in 10 genera) of almost totally Old World spiders (exception: a few species are known from Brazil).



Velvet spiders are found under rocks or bark resting in a sheet of dense white silk and are often confused with baboon spiders. They can live up to 5 years. Free living but rarely leave the safety of their webs.


Description:
12mm to 15mm in length. These robust spiders colouration may be from black, grey or a rich red. Body covered with hairs which give them a velvety appearance, hence their name. The abdomen is often lighter in colour than the rest of the spider. Abdomen may have 4 dimples on the top. The eyes are close together and the mouthparts are very robust looking for a spider that size. Legs are short and strong and they are widespread throughout Southern Africa.



Web:
These spiders build their webs under rocks, under loose bark. Their retreats consist of flat candy floss like dry sheets of silk. The silk is tough and has interwoven prey remains. Their nest-like webs are attached to the ground using silken anchor lines. Silken lines radiate from the entrance to their shelters. These lines are used to detect prey.

Venom:
Even though these spiders can be large in size they very rarely bite. Not much is known about the affects of their venom. It is highly unlikely that this spider’s venom is of importance to humans.

Notes:
Females seldom leave their webs in order to hunt. Instead, they prefer to wait for prey to wander into their webs and radiating silken lines. They prey upon tough skinned insects and other large prey items.
Camera : Fuji FinePix 2800Zoom

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18 comments:

  1. I couldn't. Not a spider. Just couldn't touch one, especially one this big!

    ALways good to hear about the wildlife in your part of the world.

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    1. Hi Jeanette, sorry, missed this comment - glad you enjoy wildlife stories!

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  2. My son have a velvet spider. We feed him
    meal-worms and crickets. I just wonder what you mean by large prey items. I like to know more about their eating-habbits

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  3. Hi Anonymous, pity I can't see your name, nice to meet you. Unfortunately I don't know any more about their eating habits, as I do not keep one in captivity - this one just lives in my garden.

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  4. What is the smallest a velvet spider can be? I found a small spider in my backyard and it looked a velvet spider, but it wasn't more than a few centimetres long. Does anyone have any information?

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  5. I have seen them from 10mm Anonymous, but I presume the babies are smaller. Maybe you could Google it and get more information. thanks for visiting my blog!

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  6. Hey, your blog gives the most information about velvet spiders. I've been searching all day to find something about the one I photographed in my garden. They really are beautiful.

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  7. Aaaah, thanks for that Anonymous, glad you found some information! Maybe you could give me a link to your pic if you have posted it. Have a great day!

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  8. almost 2 years later, your blog post is STILL the only one with useful info about South Africa's velvet spiders. Glad to find another who says look SPIDER and runs for the camera ;~)

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    1. Lovely to meet another spider-lover Diana! I'm really pleased you found this info useful, which all comes from the knowledge I picked up while she graced me with her presence in my garden. Thanks for stopping by, enjoyed chatting with you!

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  9. Wonderful info and also enjoyed the chats of blogger friends here! BUT I prefer to look and appreciate the spiders and not to touch them! Smile.

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    1. Ha ha! I understand that Elizabeth! I don't normally like touching them, most of them are FAR too fast and might just grab hold of a finger! But Velvety (her name) was so quiet and docile that it was a real pleasure feeling her silken abdomen!

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  10. THANK YOU MAREE FOR YOUR AWESOME PICS...AND FOR HELPING US TO IDENTIFY OUR SPIDER THE BLACK VELVET SPIDER FOR AS FAR AS I COULD FIND INFO OF WOMAN SCARY OF SPIDERS TELLING ME ITS A BABOON SPIDER. CHUCKLE CHUCKLE...NOW MY DAUGHTER CAN KEEP THE SPIDER IN PEACE IN THE CORNER OF HER ROOM. WHERE IT CAN EAT THOSE UNWANTED CREEPY CRAWLERS THAT WE DON'T SEE AT BAY. THANK YOU...MATT AND CATHY AND DAUGHTER 5 YEARS OLD THAT PUTS ANY FUNNY THINGS IN HER POCKETS

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    1. Wow! SO pleased I was able to help here with the identification Matt and Cathy and daughter! I'm glad your spider has found a happy home and I too have many corners with undisturbed spiders, as long as they're not poisonous, they are left in peace, otherwise they are gently evicted!

      Thank you for visiting my blog, lovely to chat to you!

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  11. Hi Marlee.

    Your post helped me identify one my sister found in her home. Thank you! Gotta love spiders!! :-D

    I can't imagine if your spider is still around?

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    1. Hi Jean-Pierre, it's wonderful that your sister managed to identify it, always so satisfying once you know what it is!. I agree, gotta live spiders! I haven't seen mine for months so she's either moved home or perhaps something has caught her. My garden has become quite dense, so it will be pure luck if I ever see her again. thanks for letting me know about your sister's spider!

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  12. I've got a velvet spider i live in south Africa she's super beautiful her names scarlet(girlfriend named her) even though she hates them i love her 2 bits the spider trying to look for a male for her

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    1. Oh wow! That is so great Unknown! Enjoy Scarlet and I do so hope you come across a male! Thanks for stopping by!

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