We all need a company. Since very young, we need a best friend. When older, we are in search for our partner. Creatures in nature seem to love being in a pair.
Giant tarantulas too!
Namely, the female Columbian Lesserblack tarantula shares its burrow with the tiny Dotted Humming frog(Microhylid Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata.)
Microhylids are half an inch long, but the small and narrow-mouthed frogs have been observed in Sri Lanka, Peru, and India living in close proximity to tarantulas.
Well, they are not exactly a pet-owner couple, but the duo is a perfect example of symbiosis. The frog would be a tasty snack for these giant jungle tarantulas, but the two species have partnered in a mutually beneficial way.
Adult females of this species live together with her spiderlings for over a year with no sign of cannibalism.
Tarantulas might simply dislike the taste of skin toxins possessed by these frogs, but scientists maintain that there is much more at play there.
The partnership was first documented in 1986 in southeastern Peru, by two researchers, Reginald Cocroft and Keith Hambler. They conducted a 3-month study and observed the pairs.
The giant tarantulas stayed in burrows, coming out around dusk to wait for prey at the entrance of their home. The Dotted Humming frog did the same and left the burrow unscathed.
Researchers often saw the frogs underneath the spiders, passing them, or below them, and the tarantulas simply moved their bodies for them to pass.
Sometimes, a young spider pounced on a frog when it left the burrow, but it released the frog in a few seconds, unharmed. Therefore, after 5 weeks, researchers decided to naturally test the relationship.
They started a “feeding program”. They dropped frogs from 6 other species in the burrows, and 7 out of 9 frogs were quickly consumed by the tarantulas. Yet, the spiders did not show the same predatory behavior towards the Dotted Humming frogs.
Additionally, snakes normally prey on the frogs, but in this case, the tarantulas attacked them to protect their “friends” inside!
Researchers explain that the species are unlikely friends, but they both benefit from their life together. Apart from the safety, Cocroft and Hambler explain that the frog benefits by eating all the bugs attracted to the spider’s prey leftovers.
On the flip side, the frog may keep the eggs of the giant tarantula safe, whose biggest predator is the ant. Microhylids like the Dotted Humming frog specialize in eating ants.
Researchers are not completely certain about their conclusions, but what remains a fact is that the two species have ended up sharing the same living space since it has numerous benefits for them.
Despite the differences, they became friends, or at least, roommates!