Spider eating opossum: Tarantula drags, eats opossum in Amazon rainforest

Researchers find giant tarantula eating oposum record it instead of fleeing in terror

One researcher described the tarantula as the size of a dinner plate

In footage sure to give arachnophobes nightmares, the opossum is shown to still be alive as the tarantula pulls it away.

A morbid film and images of the encounter were captured by a team of University of MI researchers, who documented 15 rare and disturbing predator-prey interactions in the Amazon rainforest.

Rabosky, an associate professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of MI, published a paper along with his team of researchers late last month in the peer-reviewed journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation.

"A surprising amount of death of small vertebrates in the Amazon is likely due to arthropods such as big spiders and centipedes", said University of MI associate professor Daniel Rabosky in the release.

"The most common interaction we see is spiders eating other invertebrate prey such as crickets and moths", von May said.

"We heard scrabbling in the leaf litter", says Mike Grundler, a University of MI biology PhD candidate. A five-minute struggle ensued, where the opossum, roughly the size of a softball, tried to kick away from the eight-legged insect. Grundler describes the spider as being "the size of a dinner plate", just in case you're not freaked out enough already.

A MI news release said that an opossum expert at the American Museum of Natural History confirmed the researchers had "captured the first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum".

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The study, published Thursday in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, focuses on spiders, centipedes and a giant water bug in the lowland Amazon, "preying on.frogs, tadpoles, lizards, snakes" and, of course, the ill-fated opossum, according to the university's web site.

"In the South American rainforest, I've found that some of the larger tarantulas prey often on frogs, and that was reflected in this article".

"They're large active predators and so they're out hunting all the time", Rabosky said.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", Grundler said in the MI release.

Researchers spotted a tarantula preying on a mouse opossum in the Amazon rainforest.

Though such behaviours have been recorded before, the study provides more data about just how many vertebrates fall victim to small predators, particularly spiders. "We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren't aware that it was the first observation until after the fact". The tarantula preys on every other frog, but leaves this little guy alone.

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