Pennsylvania, United States
Posted Apr 06, 2011
As an insect collector, I used to always be digging in the dirt looking for critters. Eventually, I began to find Wolf Spiders. Since they were bigger than the typical little spiders I was accustomed to finding, I was very excited when I found one. I found 4 in the dirt in my back yard one summer. One of them I put in my terrarium with my Giant African Millipede and my Fire Bellied Toad.
I named him Einstein. It turned out to be an apt name because he was very clever. He learned the habits of my Fire Bellied Toad and avoided him, going way out of his way to avoid being in the toad's feeding range. Occasionally, he got within the toad's striking range, but Einstein would rear up on his hind legs and raise his front legs high. My toad, was clearly unsure if he could handle this big beast. They would move forward and back, stuck in a stand-off, until Einstein finally felt he could slowly back away to a safe distance.
Wolf Spiders are ground spiders and don't live in webs, but dig burrows in the dirt. Einstein had only 7 legs. Apparently he had a troubled past before I found him. I watched him slowly stalk small crickets like a lion stalking prey. He would move only one leg at a time very slowly. When within range, he would strike like lightning. Also, from time to time, I would crush a cricket in tweezers and reach in and hold it above him. He would stand up on his hind legs, grab the prize and enshroud it faster than you could believe, rolling it around while wrapping it in silk. Then he would either take it back to his den for storage or sink his fangs in and start feeding.
I put lots of little critters in my terrarium. One day I sat for an hour and watched as Einstein observed carefully a very small, carefree spider wandering to and fro across the back of the terrarium. This little spider went back and forth over the same path dozens of times. Then my clever Einstein moved into that exact path and hid behind a little lump of dirt. He crouched his back end down and raised his front legs, facing the direction the little hapless spider would return from. Sure enough the little spider came along and Einstein did not move until his prey actually touched him. Like the jaws of death his mighty legs snapped down! Then, Einstein and I both looked around in wonder because the spider was gone. Then I saw him about 12 inches away strolling around as if nothing had happened. This spider had eluded Einstein moving so fast that I could not see him! Einstein found a new spot and got set again. This tiny spider evaded Einstein with his lightning speed at least 6 times as I watched laughing. Finally, my 7 legged friend gave up, went to his den, and pulled out a fly he had stored there wrapped in silk. He sat outside his burrow and sucked the juices out of the fly.
I think I inadvertently caused Einstein's demise. I fed a couple of Wolf Spiders, which I crushed with tweezers, to my Fire Bellied Toad. I think this caused him to realize he could take down Einstein if their paths crossed again. Unfortunately, I never saw Einstein after this.
I love animals and insects and critters of all kinds. Observing Einstein was one of the highlights of my experience with living creatures.