Longleat is helping to save one of the world's rarest spiders

Longleat is helping to save one of the world's rarest spiders

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 5:56am 23rd January 2018.

2 minute read

Desertas wolf spider is one of the largest with a legspan of up to 13cm.

Longleat has been inundated with spiders and they're going to grow pretty big!

The Wiltshire attraction has taken on 52 baby Desertes wolf spiders, one of the world's rarest, to try and help safeguard the species.

It's thought only around 4,000 of them survive in the wild, living on an uninhabitated island off the coast of Maderia.

As well as being a critically endangered species the breed are also one of the largest in the world with a leg-span of 13cm.

Longleat is working with the Portuguese government on the conservation programme.

The aim is to raise the spiderlings to adulthood, let them breed and then release batches back into the wild to boost native numbers.

Keeper James Gotts, who is overseeing the spider project, said:

"Historically there have been no native mammals on the island so the spiders are effectively one of the top predators.However, the recent expansion of an invasive grass species into the valley the spiders live in has prevented the spiders from being able to live in their normal rocky environment, putting them increasingly under threat. Since 2005 the spiders' range has declined abruptly.As well as setting up our own breeding colony we hope the new spider laboratory in our Animal Adventure area will aid with research on this little known species and also raise awareness of their plight,"

Longleat's James Gotts inspects one of the Desertas wolf spiders (2000x1333)

(Keeper James Gott with the rare wolf spider)

The spiders are being looked after in a carefully-controlled environment which mimics conditions in the wild and staff are even monitoring temperatures on the island.

One of Longleat's keepers is expected to travel to Desertas Grandes island in the future to help with population monitoring and habitat restoration.

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