Australia

Mating habits of Australia's golden huntsman spider captured in rare photos

Two golden huntsman spiders captured during a rare moment of mating. Source: Taronga Zoo

The spiders are usually kept apart to prevent the females from eating their male counterparts, but a Sydney zookeeper has now captured one of their rare moments of intimacy.

Sydney zookeepers have captured a series of rare photographs of two golden huntsman spiders mating.

Spider keeper Paul Hare of Taronga Zoo said his team do not usually let the male and female huntsman mix for fear of the female killing her partner.

"We keep them separate, particularly because the female is larger than the male, so she will potentially eat the male. So we only put them together when we need them to mate," Mr Hare said.

Two golden huntsman spiders mating
Two golden huntsman spiders mating
Taronga Zoo

"The male has to approach the female very carefully, and he basically has to convince her that he's worthwhile mating with, so it's quite a time consuming thing.

"It's not something they rush into at all." 

While the often frightening creatures tend to get a bad rap, Mr Hare said the golden huntsman was one of Australia's most impressive spiders.

Two golden huntsman spiders mating
Two golden huntsman spiders mating
Taronga Zoo

"There's this failed image that people have of spiders and it's really undeserved," he said.

"They do play a very important part in the ecosystem, and they definitely help us with a lot of our pest species, so they're getting rid of things like flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches in the house.

"They have this lovely golden colour to them, which makes them quite a pretty spider, which is contrary to what a lot of people think."

Two golden huntsman spiders mating
Two golden huntsman spiders mating
Taronga Zoo

Huntsman spiders are named for their speed and mode of hunting. Their venom is considered non-toxic to humans.

Their are on the larger end of spider species, with an adult leg span that can measure up to 15 centimetres.

Despite their intimidating size, the huntsman spiders have been kept as household pets, assisting with pest control by eating smaller insects.

The Golden Huntsman species originates from tropical Queensland and can achieve speeds of up to 31 body lengths per second.

This is a multi-fold increase on the speeds achieved by world-record holder Usain Bolt, who produced 5.2 body lengths per second.

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