Keeping Black Widows as Pets Caresheet

Here’s a step-by-step how-to guide on the keeping of black widows.

Container:

You should try and find a container that is impossible to escape from, like a sun tea jar or critter cage. Make sure that before you add the spider that the bottom of the cage is lined with dirt or sand (we prefer sand…it is less mess for the spider feces).

Anti-Escape Methods:

If you are still unconvinced that the black widow is secure, you can take a little bit of butter and grease the top. Vaseline works, too, but butter is safer for the spiders.

Legality:

Before you catch your spider, research if it is legal to keep in your state.

Take Caution in Your Hunts:

You should always be careful when looking for black widows. Don’t stick your hand in dark places. Be sensible and rational. And, contrary to common belief, black widows do not hunt for people – they are shy. You should wear gloves if you are working in places like the garage, near a BBQ, or any dark areas with webs.

Catching the Widow:

This varies, as it is hard to catch some widows, and others are very easy. A piece of cardboard and a large jar works well. Take the cardboard from way, and the jar another. The cardboard will block the spider, and the jar (not the container or cage) will capture her.

Cage Setup:

The cage should contain a covering of dirt or sand. There should be no gaps in the container. NEVER USE THE BUG CATCHER CONTAINERS! When I refer to ‘bug catcher containers’, I’m talking about the mesh rooms with the door on the front that moves very easily. This provides a way for them to get out. You should place a small flowerpot or used up toilet paper tube for the spiders to hide them. They are extremely solitary and shy.

Cage Location:

Put the cage in a safe place where no children or animals could get to it. Make sure that it won’t be knocked over.

Food and Water:

Always make sure that you know where the widow is when you are going in to feed. One of our lovely ladies, Lucy, tends to hang out at the top…but we’re sure that other widows do that, too. We don’t advise lifting the lid up when your spider is in this position. You can tap the lid to try and get her to come down, or at least twist it (that’s what we do, as parts of it connect to her web, moving her). Crickets, flies, and damselflies (not enough to be meal) are all ways to keep your spider healthy. Black widows will grow as they eat (this has been witnessed with our lovely Lucy who has now bloated up to the size of a large blueberry). Feeding should be judged by the size of the spiders abdomen. If you have an average sized spider (plump but not fat or skinny), feeding can take place every 1 to 2 weeks with a cricket. Here is a chart to know when to feed your spider:

  • Wrinkled Abdomen – Try and feed immediately! This is an urgent situation, as if she is unfed for too long, she’ll become to weak and die.
  • Medium Abdomen – You could wait a little bit. If they are smooth, you could definitely wait for a little while, but if it is slightly wrinkled, the sooner, the better.
  • Overweight – Be cautious when you feed them. They can explode from overfeeding.

Be sure you spray water in so they don’t dehydrate. Just be cautious so that the cage does not mold (mostly present in dirt-lined cages).

Disturbances:

Try not to disturb her too much, as this will agitate her.

Breeding:

We here at the SRC, though we love spiders, ask you NOT to breed your spiders. There are enough widows in the world who are dying because people think of them as bad creatures. Think of it like spaying or neutering a cat or dog. Here’s a quick reminder – each egg sac contains 200 to 900 eggs, and a female can lay about ten egg sacs from mating once. Honestly, the world does not need 9,000 more black widows, nor do you have the means to do this!

Egg Sacs:

It’s very hard to remove egg sacs…using a vacuum works, but be careful not to suck up your pretty little lady!

Tips:

  • If you have arachnophobia, you probably should not get one or be the one to catch it. That makes it easier to get injured. However, this might help get rid of your phobia.
  • If you are still unconvinced of the safety of keeping a black widow, you can always see if you can find a male – they don’t bite.
  • NEVER KEEP YOUR WIDOW WITH OTHER SPIDERS. ONE SPIDER:ONE CAGE…UNLESS YOU WANT TO BREED YOUR WIDOWS.

Warnings:

  • Unless you want to wind up on an episode of World’s Dumbest…, Untamed and Uncut, or Fatal Attractions, don’t hold your widow. Never touch your spider. If you are still compelled to do this, don’t say we didn’t warn you…go ahead…be a fool. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately, but remain calm. But then again, expect being bitten if you are going to do the world’s dumbest thing ever.

Caresheets:

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3 Replies to “Keeping Black Widows as Pets Caresheet”

  1. Thanks for info feeding trouble much. My spider, ‘Hey You’ is a juvenile, with attitude, loving it. Unbelievably awesome, widows are underrated.

  2. Hi, I have a black widow that was wrinkled and skinny when I found her. She’s now VERY plump. We feed her anytime we find bugs. She loves to eat! She’s huge now. I heard spiders know when to stop eating, but you say they can explode? We feed her every couple days. Moths, cockroaches, earwigs..natural food. Am I over feeding? She looks healthy and gorgeous.

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