General Question

El_Cadejo's avatar

Is there anything I can do to help my spider?

Asked by El_Cadejo (34455points) August 15th, 2011

Last week I caught a black widow. Ive never seen one before so I wanted to keep her and study her. I had her in a large mason jar so she couldnt escape. The other day my girlfriend put some more water in the jar but put a bit too much. She got stuck in this little puddle. I removed her from the container today and cleaned it out but she’s still lookin a bit water logged (curling up and not moving much). Is there anything I can do to help her survive or is it pretty much the end of the road for her?

I also found another spider today that looks very much like a widow except its missing the iconic hourglass marking. Its all black with reddish hues in parts. This spider is also the same size and shape as the widow and has a similar style web. Any chance this is another widow with a weird color morph or just a look alike spider? ill try and get some pictures up later

Also please do not give me flak for keeping a black widow, I am responsible enough to keep a venomous animal and have taken all possible precautions to avoid any mishaps. Just trying to save the one I have.

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24 Answers

lemming's avatar

Em, I once saved this fly who was stuck in some water by getting him to walk up a piece of tissue, the tissue dried him off instantly and he walked off.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@lemming That may work. Im a bit concerned about taking her out to put her on a towel or something though. Maybe if I can find some long forceps that can work though.

8Convulsions's avatar

She might just be in shock. Whenever I rescue bees and such from the pool, they act like she does. All balled up and water logged. Eventually though, after being in the sun for awhile, they start to act like themselves. She might get over it on her own. Spiders are pretty tough.

syz's avatar

She’s probably gotten water in her spiracles and breathing tubes. Spider respiratory systems are not considered terrible efficient at gas exchange, so she may in effect be suffocating. You might consider putting a fan nearby so the the air flow will increase the evaporation rate – inside of a jar is going to be fairly humid. Or even warm air from a hair dryer (be careful not to cook her).

There are two separate systems involved, book lungs and tracheae. The book lungs are assumed to be the first respiratory system evolved which is later replaced by the tracheae.
A book lung consists of a stack of plates. Blood flows through these plates and the gas is exchanged. The gases pass in and out by a diffusion process and it therefore not very efficient. In more active spiders tracheae replace part of the book lung or the whole book lung. The tracheae are tubes that do not branch but run from the opening on the outside directly into the tissues and organs.

It’s possible that the similar looking spider is a non-typically marked black widow, or it may be something completely different. It’s hard to say.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Ok so I need to find a small computer fan to put on the top of the jar to help dry her out.

Thank you for all the great info syz

El_Cadejo's avatar

Here are two pictures of the other one I found. sorry the quality is so bad, cell phone and what not. i can try and get some better ones later. As I said above its all black with some red hues but no distinct markings. I also noticed four dimples forming the shape of a square on the top of its abdomen.

Berserker's avatar

What are you feeding her with? I’m not sure what a black widow eats, bugs yeah, but which kinds…it might recover faster if you give it something it usually eats.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Symbeline it has attacked and killed anything I put in there lol. She only ate 1 cricket though, the rest are tied up in her web until she gets hungry for them. She is in no moving mood right not to try and eat but even if she was there is food around. Right now I have a fan drying it out but its not looking too good :(

El_Cadejo's avatar

Would putting salt on her help? I remember as a kid I would sometimes drown flies and then cover them in salt and watch them (come back to life) I wonder if this would be counter productive here though.

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Berserker's avatar

Hmm…I really don’t know. Maybe you should fill a big container, like a salad bowl with dirt, and add branches and crap. Put the spider in. Put a strainer on top of the bowl so it can’t escape. It’s good for giving it plenty of air, too. If you can find some of the same type of stuff you originally found it on, like plants or wtv, it might feel more at home. (then again dead plants can’t be all that interesting, but it’s not like it eats leaves anyways)

Moisten the dirt everyday, but not too much, and sprinkle water on leaves and stuff, so it can go drink. (I assume spiders drink, but if not, water is still beneficial to it in some way)

As for making it better, I really do not know. It’s gonna have to recover on its own, but it might do better in an environment that emulates its natural habitat. An empty jar can’t be all that much fun lol.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Oh its not an empty jar. there is soil and branches in there too. sorry I left that part out

El_Cadejo's avatar

hmmm now I just found another spider that looks just like it, same web pattern but brown and blotchy. How odd, and I cant seem to find a good local spider ID online either :(

snowberry's avatar

I’m guessing that swim your spider took means it is not going to make it.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Well I identified my other spider. Its a Steatoda grossa or the false black widow :P

Hibernate's avatar

You could get a large container [a dry one] or you could buy a fish tank. No matter what you buy add some rocks, some wood and the place to where you put water don’t make it to obvious. [remember to keep something above the container].
Do not combine the two spiders.
Let the spider loose sometimes but supervise it.
If you can put some other insects in there.

Most won’t agree with you for keeping it just because.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Let the spider loose and supervise? Helllll no lol. The less handling of any sorts the better.

Here is a picture of her when she was healthy.

fluthering's avatar

Love the picture – She’s beautiful :) Judging by the fact that you posed this question 2 weeks ago I think it’s safe to say she’ll be okay. I wouldn’t risk putting salt on her as it may due more harm than good. Not an expert on these topics, but the salt might cause her to “burn” or shrivel up. In the future, what I would suggest is moving her to a bigger area, a fish tank perhaps, and giving her some plants natural to her environment. Then use an eyedropper to place large drops of water on the leaves so she can drink from them. In this way you can avoid similar incidents. As aforementioned, I’m not quite the expert on black widows, but I would assume this is one of the ways they find water in the wild. Hope this was of some help…?

El_Cadejo's avatar

@fluthering no, sadly she passed a day or so after posting :(

Ive been looking for another around my house in the area I found her but no such luck yet. Oh well, maybe someday ill find another and ill be able to care for her properly.

snowberry's avatar

Regarding water, use a sponge soaked in water. Place it on a saucer where it won’t wet down the bedding stuff you use, and the next one will have a good source of water. You will want to rinse it out periodically to keep it fresh.

You can buy tarantulas and other spiders in a pet shop. I’ve kept wolf spiders and tarantulas that we caught ourselves. We used to have a friend who had a baby bird eating spider too. It was very interesting. but bird eating spiders are not as friendly as tarantulas are.

El_Cadejo's avatar

The bird eaters are a species of tarantula actually. We had one at my store for a while. I currently have a mexican red knee, very cool and docile tarantula. I know how I wanted to set up the widow tank it was more a holy shit lemme catch this spider quickly in whatever I can sort of thing and then she sadly passed before I had a chance of moving her or anything. I now have the container she was in properly set up and have 3 diff species of orbweavers in there as well as a couple jumping spiders.

snowberry's avatar

Did you know that spiders squeak? I had a tarantula that we kept in a wire cage. When the home made cage fell apart, we put it in a fish bowl, but the shape of the fish bowl “enlarged” its squeaks to the point that it was too scared to eat. I couldn’t afford another cage, and my only other option was to turn it loose. I did so, but I don’t think it made it. It had lost too much body fat, and it was too late in the year to build itself up again before winter.

fluthering's avatar


I’m sorry to hear that :(
I wish you the best of luck finding another.

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