You wouldn’t think that Funnel-web spiders would ever make use of a paintbrush, but they’re an important tool for spider hygiene.
Today I watched one of our invertebrate keepers, Brett, use a tiny paintbrush, the type used to create intricate watercolour paintings, to gently dust mites off a female funnel-web.
Apparently Funnel-webs are prone to mites. They can make the spiders quite unwell, feeding off moulted skin or body fibres, so our keepers check the spiders regularly and give them a helping hand by brushing them down.
Brett carefully laid down a paper towel, “They have really sensitive feet. I want to give her some cushioning and make her as comfortable as possible.” He then carefully lifted the spider with a pair of tweezers, held it down with a rubber band contraption and gently dusted the spider down with the soft strokes of the paintbrush.
As the mites dropped off, putting little black specs on the paper towel the spider seemed to relax into it.
Funnel-web spiders are some of the most deadly spiders in the world, but Brett thought this female was lovely, gently telling her ‘You’re beautiful, look how gorgeous you are’ as he methodically dusted off the mites.
“They’re not aggressive, they’re just defensive, they only ever rear up if they feel threatened, they don’t go looking for trouble,” said Brett.
“It might cause her a little bit of stress, but she will be a much healthier, happy spider after a few strokes of the brush,” said Brett.
Danielle, Zoo Communications.