May 2006


Shinobu screamed for help this morning when she found a giant huntsman spider (actually a “huntswoman” really!) in the bedroom. It was a very big female with a leg span of about 15cm. A very impressive creature!
This species is also called the giant crab spider or housekeeping spider and they are common throughout the tropics/subtropics. They frequently live in houses (squeezing into cracks and behind furniture) and they could be said to be beneficial because they eat things like cockroaches and flies. They don’t spin webs but catch their prey by stealth and speed.
Due to its large size, it might look dangerous but this particular spider is not venomous (to humans) although the fangs (chelicerae) look like they could give a nasty bite! I was careful when I picked it up. By the way, the photo of the spider on its back does not show it dead, it just played dead when I put it on its back. Convenient for photographs!

Heteropoda venatoriaHeteropoda venatoriaHeteropoda venatoriaHeteropoda venatoria

Arachnida: Araneae: Sparassidae
Heteropoda venatoria (ashidakagumo)

Link to Wikipedia article on the huntsman spider family (Sprassidae): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntsman_spider

I managed to catch this Japanese Ratsnake (aodaisho) when I was hiking up the main path on Mount Kuju (Oita Prefecture), from the hot spring at Bogatsuru to the volcano summit. I just caught its tail before it escaped into the vegetation at the side of the path. Then I held it down with a stick while I manouevered my hand to just behind its head. A few other people walked past me while I was taking photos and some of them stopped to look or take pictures themselves. The woman who took the photo of me standing holding the snake was with her 10-year-old daughter, who was brave enough to touch the snake (but only for a second)! It’s non-venomous so don’t worry!

This specimen was 120cm long (from the ground to my chest) but they can grow to a length of 200cm. They are quite common and live throughout Japan. Their diet consists mainly of frogs, rodents, birds and birds’ eggs.

Elaphe climacophoraMount Kuju

Elaphe climacophoraElaphe climacophora

Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae (namihebi):
Elaphe climacophora = Japanese Ratsnake (aodaisho)

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