Japan Huntsman Spider Moving on Leaves

I encountered this wonderful spider prowling amidst dense foliage along a farm road in the mountains surrounding Shizuoka City, Japan. There were several other huntsman spiders spotted within a yard of this spider on either side which lead me to believe that the hunting must have been very good. The spider shown in this video is still relatively small with a leg span of roughly 10 centimeters. The spider was especially active and moved quickly and carefully through the leaves before it sensed my presence and became more cautious and less active. The active nature of this spider was in contrast to the two other spiders I saw which were of a different species and which seemed to prefer sitting and waiting for prey to come by.

The huntsman spider is found in many parts of the world and is notable for its large size and great speed. These spiders have been measured with leg spans up to 250 mm (roughly 12 inches) and make their living by ambushing prey which they actively pursue over open ground. The spiders do not produce a web though they may trail a line of silk as they move which is used to control a fall in the event they find it necessary to jump. A distinguishing characteristic of this spider are the forward-facing two front pairs of legs. The position of the legs gives the body a lower profile compared to many other spiders and may aid the animal in subduing its prey.

Huntsman spiders will move to shelter during wet weather and will often enter homes, sheds and other areas which offer protection and a safe hunting ground. Consequently these spiders are sometimes called rain spiders or housekeeping spiders with the latter term referring to their propensity to rid a home of pests such as cockroaches and flies. Older Japanese who have grown up in the countryside have little or no fear of these spiders despite their large size and may even readily pick them up to move them outdoors. Wikipedia reports that the bite of a huntsman is not dangerous though it may cause swelling and pain. One old Japanese farmer I spoke with told me that he had been bitten by many spiders while working in his fields and indicated that the huntsmans bite was one of the least painful he had known. The Japanese words he used to describe the bite of a huntsman was kimuchi warui which translates as feels strange. My wife Yumiko grew up in an old home where huntsman were seen daily during the warm months. She describes the spiders moving quickly (and unmolested) along the walls while the family ate dinner, perched above the tub while bathing and even walking over her body while she slept. Despite her lack of fear for these large spider she nevertheless calls me (the scared one) to remove them from our apartment whenever one is discovered. Catching these spiders in the house is a difficult job as their good eyesight alerts them to an approaching human and their great speed allows them to seemingly fly from room to room with ease, eluding capture.

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~ by softypapa on June 10, 2009.

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