Jumping Spiders are very common in most parts of the world, but their abilities are almost completely unique to their family, Salticidae. Not only are they the only spiders that use sight to aim and leap onto prey or from place to place, but some species can jump up to 50 times their own body length. That would be like a 5 foot 6 inch tall human jumping over a Boeing 747 jet airliner without a running start! There are about 5,000 species of Jumping Spider throughout the world, ranging in size from a few millimeters to over an inch, and can be any color imaginable. Jumping spiders are Araneomorphs, meaning that their fangs face each other, and bite in a pincer movement, as opposed to Mygalomorphssuch as tarantulas, whose fangs run parallel to each other and strike downwards. Jumping Spiders also have a very elaborate mating dance. When a male Jumper spots a female, he will attempt to get her attention, and then start moving side to side with his front pair of legs waving in the air while slowly moving forward. He will continue this until the female runs away, chases him away, attacks and eats him, or he gets close enough to mate. Because Jumping Spiders can see so well, the males are often very colorful to help improve their chances. Jumping spiders are like walking radar stations. They are covered so thickly in sensory hairs that they appear furry and almost puppy-like. They also have 8 strategically placed eyes that give them 360 degree vision that makes it near impossible to sneak up on them. Their front eyes are very large, giving them amazing eyesight and allowing them to see almost as well as humans! They can also see in three color patterns, meaning they see colors just like most people do. The combination of a furry look and big round eyes also makes them adorable looking to many people!
Molting is an essential part of a tarantula’s life cycle, it’s how they grow! When a tarantula starts to prepare for a molt, it goes into a state called premolt. When a tarantula is in premolt, it becomes sluggish and refuses food, and if the “skin” under the abdomen is visible from hair kicking, you will notice its abdomen will change to a much darker color. Premolt can last a few days for fast growing spiderlings to months for adults of slower growing species such as the Arizona Blonde Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes).
Before the molt, a tarantula will lay down a molt mat, which is essentially a sheet of non-sticky silk that protects a tarantula during molting. When a tarantula is ready to molt, it flips upside down on the molt mat. Many beginner keepers see their tarantula upside down, and assume that it is stuck, so they flip it right side up. This could actually be fatal for the tarantula, causing it to get stuck in its molt, at which point there is not much you can do for it. After flipping over, the tarantula will slowly begin to push out of its old exoskeleton. This can take hours to accomplish and is very exhausting for the spider. The video shown was filmed over a course of around 6 or 7 hours.
After molting, a tarantula is very soft and completely defenseless. This is when a tarantula is at its most vulnerable state. It may take anywhere from one day to harden up for very tiny spiderlings to weeks for some of the largest species. The tarantula in the video, a Burgundy Goliath Birdeater Tarantula, took 2 weeks from the molt to when her fangs finally completely hardened. When a tarantula molts, it can also regrow stomach linings, hairs that have been kicked off, and even lost limbs!