Southern Black Widow

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Other common names: Hourglass Spider; Shoe-Button Spider

Scientific name: Latrodectus mactans

The basics:
The Southern Black Widow is found throughout parts of the southern United States as well as the central east coast United States. They are usually found in undisturbed areas in forests, shrubbery, hollowed stumps, and are also found in cracks and crevices near human buildings.

Appearance / health:
Mature female Black Widows are the most infamous of the widows. They have the shiny jet black color on their entire body except one area on the underside of their abdomen where a bright red hourglass shape is located. In Southern Back Widows, this hourglass is complete (no separation). Males are always smaller then the females, usually half the size of the female. Males have much different coloring compared to females. Males have longer legs with orange-brown joints with black on the ends. On the males abdomen, there are red and white stripes. Females full grown size is between 1-2 inches, with males being half or less of that size.

Behavior / temperament:
Black Widows are strictly display pets only. They are semi-aggressive and nervous but usually try to flee before taking extreme measures in defense. However, they have a very potent venom and will cause convulsions, tremors, horrible pains in the abdomen and back, and other reactions. These reactions vary depending on the age and health of the person who was bit. This spider should only be kept by mature, responsible, non-beginner keepers.

Adults can live in a 2-5 gallon tank. Immature and baby Widows may live in small plastic containers with holes in the center stuffed with cotton to provide ventilation. Air holes will be too large, and they will escape. Whatever tank is being used for an adult, make sure it’s in a location where it will not fall and always make sure there is a non-escape lid. They like living up high, so height is better than floor space.

Temperatures should be pretty high, ranging between 75-90F. Humidity should remain low around 55-65%. Substrate is not important, but could be potting soil, peat, or vermiculite 1-2 inches deep. Tank décor is important and should consist of branches, vines, sticks, and tall live or fake plants. This will provide good spaces for the Widow to start a web. Mist the tank occasionally, but not so much that it makes humidity levels soar.

Adults will feed on crickets and other insects. Babies should be offered fruit flies and pin head crickets. In the wild, they would also eat other arachnids, moths, wood lice, and other bugs.

Black Widows reproduce sexually, and the male will insert his male parts into the female and will inject sperm into her genital area. Males will spin a sperm web, gather up the sperm and go search for a female. He will vibrate the web to make sure she’s the right species, ready to mate, and if she’s receptive copulation takes place. Males are not always eaten after mating, some are lucky to get away. The female will then lay her eggs on the web and builds a sac that will incubate 20-30 days. After they hatch, it takes 2-4 months for the babies to mature.


voracious appitites, beautiful spiders, experienced keepers, fascinating captives


venomous spider, hazardous spiders, medically significant bite, newer keepers


messy web weavers., egg sacks, bad housekeeper, wild caught insects, low traffic area, small crickets

Helpful Southern Black Widow Review

Southern Black Widow

From Elijah Aug 13 2014 6:31PM


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