Orbweavers as pets?

Skulexander

Arachnopeon
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Dec 21, 2011
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Can it be done? Has anyone done it? How do you do it? I'm thinking I'd like to try, but not without a good idea about what I will need to provide them with. How much space (I know they'll need a lot), what to eat, environmental necessities. How about Argiope aurantia specifically? Or Araneus diadematus?
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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Just keep them outside. I have heard of people keeping these in a corner of a room but I can't remember who or where I heard it. I have a small orb Weaver in a tank with a bunch of other stuff. It stays at the top. I drop some fruit flies over the web and it eats what it wants. The rest drop out for the inhabitants below. A little mist in the web provides water and that's about it. Something as big as an Argiope though I would just put it outside and just toss a meal in the web from time to time.
 

Python

Arachnolord
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You could put some plants in a corner somewhere and let it build between them and while watering the plants, mist the web. You can feed them just about anything that will stick in the web and move enough for the spider to notice.
 

magicmed

Arachnobaron
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403
Haven't tried an orb weaver but it would be cool to see a large successful srtup
 

chanda

Arachnoking
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The tricky thing about orb weavers is that they are pre-programmed to make webs of a certain general size and shape. If you put an orb weaver that needs to build a large web into a small cage, it will not accommodate the change of venue by making a smaller web. It may make a few pathetic attempts to web, but the result is unlikely to be functional. Or it may just sit in a corner and refuse to web at all. Either way, it will eventually starve to death. Orb weaver spiders do not catch prey that is running around loose - they need for it to get caught in their webs. The other thing orb weavers need is good ventilation and the occasional cross-breeze. They frequently rely on a breeze to carry their silk from one attachment point to another when first starting to build the scaffolding that will support the web.

If you want to keep orb weavers in captivity, you need to find a species that makes a relatively small web. I have had good luck with Argiope argentata and Argiope trifasciata - but failed with various Araneus species that wanted to make much larger webs and ended up releasing them. I believe some of the Lariniodes species might also make a relatively small web. The one I want to try next is Gasteracantha cancriformis.

For housing, I would recommend either a screen cage or a mesh pop-up (like they use for butterflies) - and either way, the larger the better! The cages I've used are an 18" diameter hexagonal screen cage that's about two feet tall and an extra-large rectangular butterfly pop-up that's about three feet tall and maybe 18"-24" to a side. Put several long sticks in the cage at various angles to provide attachment points and hiding places. (Many orb weavers hang out in their webs at night, awaiting prey, but retreat to a hiding place during the daytime.) Substrate doesn't really matter because they won't be on the ground anyway. I'll usually give them an occasional light misting for humidity, but I don't know that that's necessary. They get most of their moisture from their food.

One thing I've noticed with my captive orb weavers is that they don't take down and rebuild (or repair) their webs the way that they would in the wild. The webs will get increasingly ratty, with bigger and bigger gaps in the webbing, until they are no longer capable of capturing prey. When that happens, I'll take a stick and sweep out the old webbing - that will induce them to start over and make a new one.

The other thing that can be a little tricky is feeding. Crickets are my usual go-to feeder for most of my inverts, but they tend not to get entangled in the webs - and when I've tried tossing one directly into a web, they can kick their way out. Roaches are also kind of heavy and strong enough to get out of the webs. Fruit flies are too small to be worth the effort. What I've done is leave my porch light on at night and catch moths to feed them. They'll also take flies readily if you can catch those, or you can buy fly pupae and keep them in the fridge to slow them down. Just toss in a few every couple of days and when they emerge, the spider is waiting.
 

Python

Arachnolord
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All good advise. I've had good luck pinching the jumping legs off of crickets. The keeps them from jumping out of the web. As far as not sticking to the web very well, you are correct. I usually hold the cricket to the web and the first few thrashes is typically enough to tangle the remaining legs sufficiently. Of course sometimes I have to pick it up and try again.
It seems there was someone on here once upon a time who was keeping some sort of orb weaver in a large picture frame but that was a long time ago. I would like to have seen that. I've kept Latrodectus bishopi in a shadowbox hanging on the wall. That was neat.
 

chanda

Arachnoking
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All good advise. I've had good luck pinching the jumping legs off of crickets. The keeps them from jumping out of the web. As far as not sticking to the web very well, you are correct. I usually hold the cricket to the web and the first few thrashes is typically enough to tangle the remaining legs sufficiently. Of course sometimes I have to pick it up and try again.
It seems there was someone on here once upon a time who was keeping some sort of orb weaver in a large picture frame but that was a long time ago. I would like to have seen that. I've kept Latrodectus bishopi in a shadowbox hanging on the wall. That was neat.
The picture frame/shadowbox idea sounds pretty cool! I may have to try that one of these days.
 

Python

Arachnolord
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It was cool except it was a bit on the small side. I had to drill a hole in the top for feeders and plugged it with a cork.
 

Tarantula155

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Dec 1, 2012
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I've kept a few species in Aquariums. Minimum tank size would be a 29 gallon. Put fake plants on each end and it can be done. I usually just let them be outside... They're sort of difficult to keep due to their nature of building orb webs. although I've had some species that didn't build orb webs and thrive.
 

basin79

ArachnoGod
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This was my girl. She was absolutely phenomenonal. Loved her too bits.


 

Tarantula155

Arachnobaron
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How big do they build their website? The bigger species, I mean
You know there wasn't a significant difference. Some of the larger species built smaller webs than the smaller species.

For example, the cat-faced orb weavers(Araneus gemmoides) aren't super large but can built quite the massive webs. Opposed to like, black and yellow orb weavers (Argiope aurantia) and banded garden orb weavers(Argiope trifasciata)
 

Skulexander

Arachnopeon
Joined
Dec 21, 2011
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6
A very lovely spider, basin79!

I looked it up, and Argiope aurantia specifically build webs up to 2 feet. Keeping that in mind, if I build an enclosure more than at least 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, that should be plenty of room, right? I had an idea of building a cabinet with mesh sides and a glass front door, or finding a cabinet that will work. Actually, I may have one that could possibly work, but I'll have to measure it when I get home. I'll provide a fan that produces a light breeze, and I'll mist daily and feed waxworms, possibly?
 

basin79

ArachnoGod
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I'm no expert but my orb built and maintained a beautiful web in a 450mm square. She ate well and produced egg sacks that hatched.

There's been experiments with orbs and their webs where they where fed at a certain point. They modify their webs accordingly.
 

SCGoodOlBoy

Arachnopeon
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Sep 24, 2017
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This was my girl. She was absolutely phenomenonal. Loved her too bits.


I know this is old but I wanted to tell you how awesome your Golden is.
I keep several different types of Orbweavers as pets at my office. I do internet marketing for a pest control company. Gives me a way to make videos that people on Facebook & Twitter enjoy. I use 30 gallon tanks. I have some live grasses in the bottom along with mulch, in the corners I have small branches from trees that I change out every few weeks when the leaves dry out. I let crickets just free range around the tank. They must not be too smart because they always seem to get brave and crawl up the branches and get caught in the webs. In one 30 gallon tank I keep 3 different types of orbweavers and they all do fine. I spray a light mist of water every morning on the webs. The spiders usually seem to leave the webs up a few days at a time before taking them down and starting over. They have been so much fun to keep.

Here is one of mine. You can click on some of the other videos on the company channel there to view the others.
 

atraxrobustus

Arachnoknight
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Nov 21, 2017
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163
The problem with the orb weavers in addition to the potential size of their webs, is that most of them are quite delicate and easy to injure, by way of the comparison to the more robust species (wolfs, tarantulas, etc.) that are easier to handle. Its not uncommon where I live to find orb weavers that have legs broken off.
 
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