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Spider eats bird
Thursday, October 23, 2008
© The Cairns Post (Cairns is on the east coast of Australia)
THESE amazing images of a mammoth spider devouring a bird were taken in the backyard of an Atherton property, west of Cairns.
And the images, which are being cirulated via email worldwide, are real, according to wildlife experts.
The photos, believed to have been taken earlier this week, show the spider clenching its legs around a lifeless bird trapped in a web.
Joel Shakespeare, the head spider keeper at NSW's Australian Reptile Park, told ninemsn that the spider was a Golden Orb Weaver.
"Normally they prey on large insects, it's unusual to see one eating a bird," he said.
Mr Shakepeare told ninemsn he had seen golden orb weaver spiders as big as a human hand but the northern species in tropical areas were known to grow larger.
Mr Shakespeare said the bird, a Chestnut-breasted Mannikin which appears frozen in an angel-like pose in the pictures, is likely to have flown into the web and got caught.
"It wouldn`t eat the whole bird," he told ninemsn.
"It uses its venom to break down the bird for eating and what it leaves is a food parcel," he said.
Queensland Museum's Greg Czechura is reported ninemsn as saying cases of the Golden Orb Weaver eating small birds were "well known but rare".
"It builds a very strong web," he told ninemsn.
But he said the spider would not have attacked until the bird weakened due to its struggle to free its wings.
"The more they struggle, the more tangled up and exhausted they get and they go into stress."
"If a spider gets a bird, it`s a very lucky spider," Mr Czechura said.
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