basic Widow Spider care?

false dmitri

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
4
I've been lurking for a while. I'e always wanted to keep a black widow as a "pet" ever since I was a kid (don't really care which species).

I've now found that a lot of you do keep widows. I'm not going to rush out and buy a specimen or anything, bu i just want to ask some basic ?s.

How do you go about safely feeding her? I know she is not the monster she's made out to be. I know she'll usually just hide in her web, and if you create a place for her make her hide, she won't come rushing out of the open lid.

How do you go about cleaning the debris from the bottom of the cage? (I assume she usually cuts dead prey out of her web) The same goes for her molts and her male suitors. Not that I would try to mate or breed widows, but how do you go about removing her eggsac?

I'm sure you could slow down her activity by putting her in the frige for a few minutes, but that seems really cruel and unhealthy for her.

I live in central Illinois and we are supposed to have some native widow species in this state, but I've never seen one despite my years of trying to find one.

Any answers would be apprecaited! And no, I'm not going to run and get a widow just yet.
 

KUJordan

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 22, 2005
Messages
344
These are very good questions to ask regarding the care of Latrodectus. They are, in fact, incredibly easy to care for and deal with on a daily basis. They need minimal space with only a few pieces of debris to use as structure for their webs. As far as feeding them goes, some people like BrianS drill a small hole in the side of the enclosure and cork it. When the food is put in the hole, just put the cork back in and there is no risk of injury to you, the spider, or her web. Most of us, though, probably just lift the lid of the spiders' enclosures and push a cricket, larvae, or roach in with tongs or our fingers. Widows are not the crazy lighting speed racers across their webs that you might think. Most of the time when I'm feeding mine they stay well on the other side of their webs (this is of course NOT the case with L. menavodi). Because widows can generally be kept quite dry with only a damp ball of tissue paper or paper towel for moisture, there usually is no risk of mold or fungal growth from old prey parts. These can easily be removed though by simply lifting her lid a small bit and pulling them out with long tongs. Any damage to her web will be repaired within a few minutes. Anyway, I hope some of this helps and I do hope you decided to look into the world of Latrodectus more. Good luck with her if you do eventually get one, I definitely recommend it!!!
 

spydrhunter1

Arachnolord
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
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641
Jordans right widows are easy to take care of in captivity. I use pre-punched deli cups (16 ounce). I melt a cricket size hole in the lid so i can add food without tearing the web. I keep the hole covered with gauze taped over it.





 

false dmitri

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
4
What about transferring them from their packaging into the enclosure? And just how do you guys remove an eggsac from the pretty ladies?

I'm sure it hasn't been studied, but can the fangs out a female BW pierce thru a latex glove? It would just make sense to wear a pair when being around small venemous species. I know they're not aggressive, but I'd rather be careful than get bitten on accident. I dobut she would try to attack your tweezers when your cleaning out her cage, but still.
 

Windchaser

Arachnoking
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Dec 13, 2004
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2,997
I too agree that they are very easy to care for. I generally open the lid and toss in a cricket. The containers I have them in have hinged lids so there is very little damage to the web when I open them. In the past when I have had egg sacs I didn't really separate them out. In the end, they generally cannibalized each other. I have pulled a few out to breed with another one that I have. If this breeding is successful I am planning on separating more out. I have yet to see even the slightest bit of aggression or defensiveness from them so I am not too worried about the possibility of a bite. I am far more likely to get tagged by one of my tarantulas than one of my widows.
 

Mr. Mordax

Arachnoking
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Oct 22, 2006
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2,301
The OSU BugZoo has a black widow, and everyone loves her. We open the lid a crack and throw in a feeder roach every few days or so. She does fine with just an occasional misting. As far as I'm aware, widows are only bitey if they're defending an egg sac, so I'd use a little extra caution if you try to remove any.

And don't worry about sticking her in the fridge to slow her down. The first "wild" widow I encountered was when I was cleaning out a tool shed in January (in eastern Oregon).
 

spydrhunter1

Arachnolord
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Messages
641
I clean out old prey items about once a month. I just open the lid enough to insert a pair of forceps and grab the bodies. I do the same with egg-sacs. These spiders for the most part are going to go in the opposite direction, only rarely does a female get possessive with sacs. If she wants to guard the sac just take things slow and she'll give up the fight.
 

buthus

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Jun 8, 2006
Messages
1,381
With arids and temporates I dont clean out the kills. Carcases are an intricate part of the widows enviroment. Hesps and mactans will place the carcases at the bottom of the enclosure and attach webbing to it. Prey such as earwigs and crickets will climb around the pile (and will feed on it) and set the widow in motion for an entertaining hunt. Many old world desert species use dead prey items and other debris to build their protective "dens". Leaving the old prey items in the enclosure will allow for more natural behavior and thus more interesting behavior to observe.
If you live in a humid place or your widow is a specie that requires added humidity, then leaving the carcases will eventually lead to issues with mold/fungus as mentioned already. ;)
 

spydrhunter1

Arachnolord
Old Timer
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Mar 16, 2005
Messages
641
Humidity is the reason I remove the carcasses, our lab is humid and I get mold in the lab cages easily.
 

John J.

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jan 31, 2007
Messages
1
Hello, I am new to the keeping a Black Widow for a pet. She is about 5 months old, just recently molted and is growing nicely. She is about the size of a nickel now. I feed her waxworms and sometimes crickets. I bought a terarium to house her with a screen top. So there is plenty of room to grow. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can do a better job of caring for "Sweet Pea" please let me know! John
 

Selenops

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Messages
844
Hello, I am new to the keeping a Black Widow for a pet. She is about 5 months old, just recently molted and is growing nicely. She is about the size of a nickel now. I feed her waxworms and sometimes crickets. I bought a terarium to house her with a screen top. So there is plenty of room to grow. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can do a better job of caring for "Sweet Pea" please let me know! John
Welcome to the hobby of Widow keeping. Sounds like your are doing just fine. I have seen nature museums keep Widows in a 5 or 10 gallon terrarium (not required) and have the habitat dressed up real nice with tangled pieces of grapewood that the spider can use to build large intricate cobwebs around. Very natural in appearance. Awesome display spider!
 
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