Tropical Spiders Cause 'Surprising Amount of Death,' Hunting Opossums, Frogs and More

Tropical Spiders Cause 'Surprising Amount of Death,' Hunting Opossums, Frogs and More

The video was recently shared by the University of MI, and it contains a sight no arachnophobe wants to see - a young possum completely covered by a huge, hairy tarantula, which was spotted easily dragging it back to its den.

In the Amazon rainforest, a team of researchers recorded spiders and other arthropods such as centipedes feasting on tadpoles, lizards, frogs, and, on one very memorable occasion, a tarantula the size of a dinner plate killing a young opossum and dragging it off to devour at leisure.

Once or twice a year, University of MI evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky leads a team of U-M researchers on a month-long expedition to a region of the Amazon jungle in southeastern Peru. The paper detailed the team's observed interactions in the Amazon over the past several years between small vertebrates and arthropods.

"The most common interaction we see is spiders eating other invertebrate prey such as crickets and moths", von May said.

Describing the scene, doctoral candidate Michael Grundler said they "heard some scrabbling in the leaf litter" before turning to see a large tarantula attacking the mammal. The opossum was still struggling weakly even with the tarantula grasping its neck then, but it eventually stopped kicking after about 30 seconds.

He said the tarantula was roughly the size of a "dinner plate".

An opossum expert at the American Museum of Natural History later confirmed they had captured the first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum.

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Researchers studying interactions between predators and their prey in the Amazon rainforest spotted one encounter with a giant spider that'll leave arachnophobes trembling. "And we looked over and we saw the tarantula on top of the possum".

As for the searing image of a giant spider carting off a cute, furry critter, Rabosky, who leads the research team, said it's not as scary as it may seem.

Most of the expeditions in the forest were at night, when the predators are more active.

A team of researchers traveled to the Madre De Dios region of the Amazon rainforest in southeastern Peru to survey predator-prey relationships in the Amazon rainforest.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", Grundler says.

Arachnologist Rick West said tarantulas typically prey on frogs, but added: "They are opportunistic feeders and they'll take whatever they can subdue".

"We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren't aware it was the first observation until after the fact".

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