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Desert Diary

Arthropods/Trapdoor Spiders


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"Caught ya!", a child might scream, as he plays hide and seek with his friends. But did you ever think about how many animals play this same game—but with far more deadly consequences. One of these is the trapdoor spider, whose cleverly camouflaged burrow makes the perfect hiding place—and those who are caught can't warn others of its whereabouts, either, since they quickly become dinner! These spiders live in warm areas throughout the world, from the tropics to our Chihuahuan Desert.

Trapdoor spiders are quite ingenious—they not only excavate a burrow, but they also build a hinged lid, made from silk and soil. Covered with plant debris, the lid completely blends in with the surroundings and provides protection from weather and most enemies—and it's also an ideal place from which to pounce on prey! So rapid is the assault that they occasionally grab inedible prey by mistake. Although burrows are simple, some have side chambers and extra doors for escape, just in pen and inkcase one of its few predators comes hunting.

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Kodi R. Jeffery, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.



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Kaston, B. J. 1978. How to know the spiders. 3rd ed., W. C. Brown, Dubuque, IA.

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