While female tarantulas may carefully tend their eggsac to ensure the best possible conditions for hatching, once the spiderlings emerge they are indeed at risk of being eaten.
It is safe to say that tarantulas do eat their babies if the opportunity arises.
In the wild, baby tarantulas will leave the safety of their mother’s lair soon after hatching, looking for a place where they can set up home, so avoiding getting eaten.
In captivity, tarantula breeders remove the spiderlings soon after hatching and pot them up into separate containers to prevent either the mother, or other spiderlings, eating the babies.
When Do Tarantulas Eat Their Babies?
There are two occasions under which tarantulas may eat their babies – at the egg stage or after hatching.
Captive tarantulas have been observed on numerous occasions to eat their entire eggsac after laying it. Experts are still unsure of the exact causes of a tarantula eating their eggsac. Some suggestions have included a female getting disturbed too often, and therefore assuming that her eggs are going to be predated.
Other options could include eggs that haven’t developed properly, or where environmental conditions are not optimal for their development. In these cases the eggsac may simply vanish from the cage, with no evidence of it’s prior existence at all.
Assuming the eggsac is not eaten, then the second risk is when the babies actually hatch. While babies may be observed in their mother’s lair for a short period of time after hatching, soon enough they will need to leave to avoid being eaten by the mother or by other siblings.
Why Do Tarantulas Eat Their Babies?
Wild creatures don’t have the benefits we humans do of an almost endless supply of high quality food. Life in the wild can be tough, and it makes sense to conserve as many calories as possible.
Laying eggs and tending to them until they hatch is an energy-intensive process. Therefore it makes evolutionary sense that if the odds of the eggs surviving seem minimal then the female may consume them. In this way she is able to reabsorb all that lost energy to try again at a later date.
In terms of tarantulas eating hatched babies, by this point there could be several hundred tiny, tasty bodies moving around the hide. Even picking off a number of them is unlikely to make much of a difference to the overall numbers that survive till adulthood.
Furthermore, female tarantulas will rarely eat between egg laying and the eggs hatching. This process can take some months, during which time the female gets more and more hungry. Instead, she will stay carefully sealed in her hide, protected by a thick sheet of web to keep out parasites and predators.
When at last the babies hatch she will be starving hungry, so even her babies may look like an appealing snack.
Do Tarantulas Eat Their Eggs?
Tarantulas can and do eat their eggs. Most commonly when this happens they eat all the eggs in one go – the entire eggsac – rather than carefully picking out individual eggs.
This can be a thoroughly depressing experience for the tarantula hobbyist that has put so much work into breeding his or her tarantulas. It does, sadly, come with the territory however.
Fortunately some tarantulas are capable of “multi-clutching” – producing more than one eggsac over a period of time from a single breeding. Even a female that eats her eggsac may therefore go on to produce a healthy sac at a later date.
Do Baby Tarantulas Eat Each Other?
Baby tarantulas will eat each other if given an opportunity. Tarantulas go through a number of instars before they look like tiny “real” tarantulas.
In the earliest stages of development they do not eat each other. This is for a combination of reasons – they aren’t overly mobile, their exoskeleton is very soft, and they are still benefiting from the nutrients they absorbed within the egg.
However as the baby tarantulas pass through their first few moults after hatching, their siblings may represent a simple and tasty meal. It is for this reason that most tarantulas disperse after reaching a certain size. There are reports of baby tarantulas travelling in long columns away from the mother’s lair, looking for somewhere suitable where they can set up home away from the clutches of their brothers and sisters.
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