The spider is relatively unknown and only lives on one Caribbean island called Montserrat.
A rare species of tarantula has produced around 200 babies at a zoo in the UK.
This particular species can only be found on one Caribbean island called Montserrat and very little is known about it so conservationists at Chester zoo, UK are extremely excited especially as this is the first time the tarantula has been bred in captivity.
It was back in 2013 when a zoo keep brought back around a dozen after carefully observing them on several field trips. Over the next three years, after much careful studying of the species and behavioral management, they were successful in getting one of the females to mate and produce offspring.
The reason mating spiders is so tricky is because of the sexual maturation synchronization between the male and the females – female spiders live much longer than their male counterparts and so each mature at different times.
Another problem is the way in which females pick a mate – they will either have babies with them or eat them – therefore it was touch and go for the zoo team on whether it would be a good match or not especially as they had so few spiders to work with.
The female spider’s tendencies to burrow into the ground once pregnant was also a testing time for the team. They weren’t to know when the spiders would hatch or have even survived. Chester Zoo’s curator of lower vertebrates, Gerardo Garcia explains how the baby spiders just appeared.
“They literally dig a burrow in the ground, and they’re gone,” he said. “They don’t feed, they don’t show up, we don’t know what’s going on. You just have to leave it for several months and see what happens. Then eventually… spiders started popping out of the earth like crazy. From one single burrow, one female, we had about 200 tarantulas – tiny spiderlings.”
Studying these new additions is underway and the team hope to find out more about this elusive species which has only been described and mentioned once before around 100 years ago. The babies are being kept in individual pots and being very well looked after.
“We’re keeping them in small, individual pots,” Dr Garcia said. “A member of staff is feeding them one-by-one with small flies, at the beginning. Then we’ll go for bigger prey like crickets.”