Cause of Death

YungRasputin

Arachnobaron
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May 25, 2021
Messages
398
earlier this year i was quite shocked to find out that constrictors do not kill their prey by strangulated-suffocation but rather by shutting off blood flow to the heart (see below article for reference) which today has me curious

what is the actual coup de grâce for tarantulas? we know that venom immobilizes the prey but does it in fact *kill* the prey? which i get it, seems silly but so to would these questions seem when talking about constrictor snakes several years ago - am curious if perhaps there’s been research into this and if tarantulas kill in a similar fashion albeit on a smaller scale of course

 

kingshockey

Arachnobaron
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Sep 4, 2017
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558
think its more like the prey gets devoured alive since i see cricket legs twitching an hour or so later while the sling is eating it still. interesting about the constrictors i always thought they just crushed the prey since when i had my red tail i always saw blood gush from its preys mouth after being crushed and squeezed before i began feeding it pre killed to avoid injury to it
 

winter

...
Arachnosupporter
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Jun 4, 2020
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41
Best guess is death is by mechanical damage due to maceration by the fangs and chelicerae. The venom likely is not the direct cause of death, but rather used to immobilize or partially immobilize the prey to reduce risk of escape or harm to the tarantula.
 

AphonopelmaTX

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1,667
I don't think there is a single cause of death of the prey a tarantula consumes. It would depend on the situation.

Small arthropod prey such as crickets, beetles, small scorpions, etc. are most likely killed from being crushed by the fangs against the bottom of the chelicerae. This conclusion can be easily arrived at by watching a tarantula take down a couple of crickets. It doesn't take much to see that a tarantula can quickly turn a cricket into a pile of goop just by chewing on it. Also, the chelicerae have conical teeth on the bottom to aid in the crushing.

For larger arthropod prey such as large roaches, mealworms (when fed to a spiderling), super worms, etc. the cause of death is less obvious since tarantulas appear to hold onto them for a good long while as the prey struggles in the fangs. In these situations, it appears that @kingshockey has the right idea in that the cause of death seems to come from being digested alive. Venom may come into play here to help immobilize the struggling prey, but I don't think it is the cause of death. Perhaps, like smaller prey, the cause of death eventually comes from being crushed. Some of us are all too familiar with the loud crunching sound something like a Theraphosa stirmi makes when eating a large dubia roach.

The cause of death for other prey such as amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, birds, etc. could be one, or a combination of different things including the venom. Internal bleeding from being stabbed with big fangs could be one, or maybe being stabbed in a vital organ such as the heart or brain, etc. Venom could be the cause of death in these cases if it is injected in the right location. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that if a tarantula bites a vertebrate near the head, or a vital organ, the paralyzing effects of the venom would kill it instead of paralyzing it.
 
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