Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A giant spider eating a bird
If anyone doubted the existence of bird-eating spiders - often depicted in horror movies set in the jungles of South America - the proof is in these amazing photos from Australia.
A huge spider has been photographed tucking into a hapless bird which became entangled in its web - in a family's back garden!
The pictures were taken earlier this week as the Golden Orb Weaver spider joined the list of other creatures that have made headlines from Australia and the Pacific as they devoured prey - including a fish eating a seagull and a python eating a wallaby.
But no-one expected to come across a garden scene of a bird being devoured by a spider, especially as Golden Orb Weavers confine their daily meal to large insects.
Spider eating bird
No way out: The hapless bird is entrapped in the spider's web
Mr Joel Shakespeare, a spider expert at the Australian Reptile Park said: 'This particular spider can grow larger than a human hand, so if a bird gets caught in its web I'm not surprised it will start eating it.
'It seems pretty obvious that the poor bird, a chestnut-breasted Mannikin (a type of finch), has flown straight into the web and not been able to free itself before the spider struck.'
Mr Shakespeare said the spider would have used its venom to break down the bird for eating and then wrapped up the pieces in web as a kind of food parcel.
Helpless: The bird has no defence against his opponent
Experts such as Queensland Museum's Mr Greg Czechura say Golden Orb Weavers build very strong webs, but they point out that the spider would not have struck until the bird became weak as it tried to struggle free.
'The more they struggle, the more tangled up and exhausted they get and they go into stress,' said Mr Czechura.
'If a spider gets a bird, it's a very lucky spider.'
In other cases of reptiles in the wild attacking other species, a Queensland couple has told how they found a python devouring their dog, just weeks after other snakes killed their cat and guinea pig.