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Widow spiders, Latrodectus ssp.


Introduction Widow spiders are native to the United States. While they occur in most states, they are most common in the south eastern states. Commonly encountered around wood piles, boxes, sheds, meter boxes, and other sheltered, quite places.

They prey on small insects that get snared in the web; and as the name implies, the female will eat the male after mating.

Acclimation and Quarantine As the majority of captive Black Widows are kept singly, acclimation and quarantine enclosures are not generally used to the same degree as they are with reptiles. We do recommend quarantining all incoming breeders before breeding attempts are made.

Housing A single specimen may be comfortably kept in a 2 to 5 gallon cage. Glass, plastic, Tupperware are all acceptable enclosures. If you choose to utilize Tupperware, a few small holes should be drilled along the side for ventilation.

An inch or two of shredded coconut husk, mixed with some mulch at a ratio of 2:1 respectively will make a good substrate. You may choose to put a thin layer of sphagnum moss on the top. The enclosure may be decorated with one or two flat pieces of bark, a branch or two and some artificial foliage. Widows often hide in vertical habitats, so this should be kept in mind when placing decor. An upside down flower pot with a good size hole in the bottom works well. The drainage hole will allow the widow access.

Heating and Lighting Temperatures should be maintained between 75-85 degrees F during the day time with a slight drop during the night. Often times, room temperature is adequate. If not, the use of a a small heat pad (1 -3 watts) or a fluorescent light will provide the proper heat. Exposure to UV is not necessary for Black Widows. If you do not have any issues maintaining temperatures, the ambient light from the room will be more than sufficient in providing light for the idows.

Feeding The majority of the diet can consist of crickets. Meal worms, flies and small moths may be offered on occasion as well. Food items should be gut loaded when possible. Food should be offered 3-4 times a week for adults and daily for juveniles. Do not keep a lot of crickets in the cage at one time, as they may cause injury or death to a sleeping spider.

black widow biteA note on venom The bite of any Widow spider should be taken seriously and receive medical attention. I personally received several bites over a 4 day time frame from a Black Widow on the calf of my leg. At the time, I was living in an apartment that had holes drilled in the wall close to ground level to allow access of cable. My bed was positioned next to the wall and against several of these holes. One of these holes provided shelter to a Black Widow. Each morning I awoke with pain, discomfort and itching in my left leg. The wounds were necrotic and each one was worse than the previous. The bites resulted in swelling, blistering, weeping, itching and infected wounds. Besides the symptoms at the immediate bite locations I also experienced nausea and fever for about a week. It took several months for the bites to heal.