Video: Biologists record opossum-eating tarantula

A wandering spider (Ctenidae) preys on a subadult Cercosaura eigenmanni lizard.
©Mark Cowan, in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

As University of Michigan biologists were walking a night transect through the Amazon rainforest in Peru, they came across something they had never seen before. Spotting a tarantula the size of a dinner plate consuming its prey wasn’t so unusual. But usually, the prey is an invertebrate, or maybe a frog. This time, it was a mammal — an opossum (Marmosopscf. noctivagus) to be specific. The team documented 15 rare predator-prey interactions involving arthropods as predators and vertebrates as prey, which they included in a study in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. “This is an underappreciated source of mortality among vertebrates,” said University of Michigan evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky. “A surprising amount of death of small vertebrates in the Amazon is likely due to arthropods such as big spiders and centipedes.”

Watch a video on their findings below.