Giant Spider Eats Opossum

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According to a report by Science Alert, researchers captured a video of a large tarantula carrying away a dead baby opossum to eat it later.

A group of scientists from the University of Michigan traveled to Peru as part of a research study into the methods of invertebrates, like spiders, to hunt other animals and record it on video to be analyzed later.

The research paper focuses on the surprising amount of small critters likes frogs, snakes, and lizards that are reported to be hunted by spiders. During their time in Peru, the researchers were able to document many instances of spiders hunting those animals for their paper.

It was while they were out in the Amazon jungle in the middle of the night that they came across a startling find – a giant tarantula carrying away a dead baby opossum for food.

The spider, a large mygalomorph, or more simply known as a tarantula, was the claimed by the scientists to be the size of a dinner plate and the opossum it was carrying away was the size of a softball.

University of Michigan Biologist Michael Grundler says they were so excited by the discovery, they didn’t realize how momentous it was until after the camera stopped rolling.

“We were pretty ecstatic and shocked and we couldn’t really believe what we were seeing. We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren’t aware that it was the first observation until after the fact.”

Tarantula at San Francisco Zoo 2003
Featured image credit: Justin SullivanGetty Images

In addition to the gruesome discovery of a tarantula carrying away an opossum that is likely to keep arachnophobes up at night, the researchers also studied the surprising relationship the same species of spider has with one genus of frog.

While this breed of tarantula typically hunts and eats frogs, there is one, and only one, exception to the rule. They will not harm a small relative of the dotted humming frog.

Researchers discovered that the tarantula will eat the predators that commonly prey on the frog, like snakes, lizards, and other spiders. This particular frog is known to eat the ants that would consume the spider’s eggs and is also believed to eat parasite-like fly larvae that would infest the spiders themselves.

The tarantula keeps the frog safe so that the frog will protect the spider’s eggs and keep their bodies free from parasites as part of a mutually beneficial friendship.

After researchers released the video of the tarantula hauling away the possum, it’s likely that the frog will be the spider’s only friend going forward.