Like all living things, spiders need to drink water to survive. However, most people have never seen a spider hydrating, which has led to the common misconception that they don’t need to drink at all.
While it’s true that siders get a lot of the moisture they need from their food, they also need the occasional sip of water to survive. But how often do spiders need to drink water, and how do they do it?
Where do spiders drink from?
Spiders get a lot of their moisture from their prey, but they also need to drink water to stay hydrated. Wild spiders will sip from any available water source they can find, including the dew drops that form on their webs.
House spiders may drink from condensation on window sills, and pet spiders must be provided with a water dish to drink from.
How do spiders drink water?
The mouthparts of a spider are very different from those of mammals. They don’t have teeth and cannot chew; instead, they have specialized mouthparts called chelicerae, which works in a similar way to a straw. The chelicerae are full of muscles and work with other, smaller mouthparts to suck up water and the liquefied insides of their prey.
Spiders tend to drink slowly, and it can take several minutes for them to get their fill. Larger species (such as tarantulas) may need to drink for several hours if they become dehydrated.
How long can a spider live without water?
Spiders need to drink water to stay alive, but they can survive a surprisingly long time without it. House spiders may live for several months without either food or water, though some species may need to drink at least once every few days to stay alive.
Arachnids can survive even longer without food than they can without water, and tarantula owners report that they can last for over two years on a single meal.
Why do people assume that spiders don’t drink?
Spiders eat by injecting their prey with a liquefying venom that turns their insides to soup, which they up through their straw-like mouthparts. Because spiders exist on a liquid diet, many people assume that they don’t need to take in any additional moisture. However, this is not the case, and even small spiders will need to supplement their fluid intake with the occasional sip of water.
Spiders are generally shy creatures, and most people have never seen one drinking. Even people with pet spiders may not often catch them in the act of hydrating.
Do tarantulas drink?
New tarantula owners may be concerned about their pet’s apparent lack of interest in their water dish, but this is usually nothing to worry about. Tarantulas do sometimes need a drink, but they get most of their hydration from their food. Often, tarantulas will only drink water if they become dehydrated, so it’s always important to provide a clean, fresh water source for them.
Signs of dehydration in pet tarantulas
Dehydration can quickly become fatal for tarantulas, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the warning signs. Indications of dehydration in your pet tarantula may include:
- A shriveled abdomen
- Inability to co-ordinate their limbs
- Inability to lift their body off the ground
How to keep a pet spider hydrated
If a spider comes dehydrated, its health will quickly go south. If you have a pet spider, you will need to provide them with a constant source of water.
Provide a water dish
You must always provide a dish of clean tap water for your pet spider. Some species may not need to drink often, but they will thank you for providing water when they do. Larger spiders will be happy with a small dish of water, which should be kept full and fresh. Smaller species may need a smaller receptacle, like a cap from a soda bottle.
Some sources recommend placing a damp sponge in your spider’s enclosure, but this may not be the best option. This is because sponges can harbor bacteria that could be harmful to your pet.
Tropical spider species require a humid environment to stay healthy and hydrated. It is important to properly research your spider’s needs and make sure their habitat is suitable.
You can increase the humidity in your spider’s enclosure by lightly misting the substrate and/or sides of the tank with water. Spraying your spider’s webbing will also provide them with an alternate water source. However, it is important not to make the enclosure overly damp, and to avoid spraying the spider directly.
Humidity control is an important aspect of spider-ownership, and you should be careful not to overdo it with the spray bottle.
If their enclosure is too damp, the humidity can increase to levels that encourage the growth of mold, which can endanger your pet’s health.
If the humidity in your spider’s habitat is too high, you can help to bring it down by improving the ventilation inside the enclosure. If you spill water and the substrate is soaked, you may need to replace it with dry material.
Spiders typically live on a liquid diet, and they get a lot of the water they need from their food. However, they also need to drink now and then, and will use specialized mouthparts called chelicerae to suck water from dewdrops.
Pet spiders like tarantulas may not need to drink frequently, but you should always provide a water dish anyway. Dehydration can be fatal, so you need to ensure they have constant access to a clean, fresh source of water.