Red-Tailed Jumping Spider

2012 November 10

Many years ago, we had a small aquarium with a couple of small fish that eventually died of old age. Rather than restock it, we poured the gravel and associated seashells out into a place in the yard where small animals had been trying to burrow under the house. Then we forgot about it. Now, jump to the present – on May 21, 2012, Sam was rummaging around in the yard[1], and found the forgotten aquarium gravel. She loves seashells, so she went through it to pick out the shells. And inside one of the shells, just peeking around the edge, was this tiny little jumping spider:

I’m going to call this a “red-tailed jumping spider”, because, hey, red tail:

I have no idea if this is its “official” common name, but I think it is appropriate and has the advantage that anyone hearing it will have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about. This actually looks like one that I might be able to identify to species. I do believe that it is Habronattus decorus, it certainly has the right coloration, and that kind of round-headed, spiky-haired facial appearance[3].

This pretty little fellow is certainly a male, the females don’t have the red abdomens like that. This site has a nice video of both a male and a female, making it easy to see the difference. There are a number of jumping spiders where the males are very colorful, which doesn’t seem to be the case for other spider families. This is probably because jumping spiders are much more visually-oriented than your average spider, and so the females can actually see (and presumably appreciate) the colors and displays of their prospective mates.

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[1] Sam was actually looking for guinea-fowl eggs when she found the seashells. We have two guinea fowl running around the yard to keep the tick population down (which seems to be working), and they periodically leave clutches of up to a dozen eggs scattered around the yard. They are both female, so the eggs obviously aren’t going to hatch, and whenever the girls find a clutch, we collect and eat the eggs. Guinea fowl eggs are brown and about the size of “small” chicken eggs, with a more pointed end and shells thick enough that you really have to whack them pretty hard to open them[2]. They have yolks about the same size as a chicken-egg yolk, but significantly less of the “whites”.

[2] If one wanted to cheat in an Egg Drop Competition, slipping in a guinea-fowl egg instead of a chicken egg would probably be a good start.

[3] I tried photographing this one without my cone light concentrator, to avoid getting the distracting “pseudopupils” reflected in the eye like I normally get with jumping spiders. So this one was photographed in a little “white box” that I folded out of a sheet of white drawing paper. It sort of worked, but the face wasn’t as well-illuminated as in the previous pictures. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

10 Responses leave one →
  1. November 10, 2012

    Beautiful! I’ve seen the jumping spiders with bright green chelicerae, but never one like this.

  2. November 10, 2012

    While the spider is extremely attractive I was more interested in your guinea fowl.
    I had to go to Wiki to find out what a guinea fowl is.
    They don’t appear very attractive but Wiki does mention the bit about being tick removers here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guineafowl

    Guinea fowl are sometimes used to control ticks.[2]
    **

    I don’t know about eating ticking eating bird eggs.
    Are the eggs delish?
    How hard are these hens to farm?
    Are they intelligent beasties or prone to turkey behavior?
    Are they good pets? We still haven’t got our kitten yet.

  3. November 10, 2012

    Rebecca: I agree, he’s easily the most handsome jumping spider I’ve seen locally

    Julie: While they aren’t conventionally attractive, guinea fowl are kind of amusing. Having them around is a bit like having small dinosaurs running around the place. Although, they are pretty loud.

    The eggs are in fact delicious, very yolky and flavorful, although not as plentiful as one would get from a regular hen. They seem to be pretty hardy and robust, we’ve never lost any to disease. Although we have lost several to predators (we started with more than two) – we actually saw the great-horned owl that got one, and there is at least one fox that comes sniffing around and may have accounted for a few others.

    I’d say they are approximately as smart as chickens, which is kind of damning with faint praise as far as I’m concerned. The two we have now are not too bad, probably because the less-intelligent ones were the ones that got eaten. We didn’t really try to make cuddleable pets out of them, but they do come running when the food comes out.

  4. Carole permalink
    November 10, 2012

    Very nice!

  5. November 11, 2012

    I know your blog is about tiny critters but perhaps you can expand your options and do a posts on bigger critters? If the darn City of Edmonton would be a bit accommodating I might have a few of them in my backyard (food for our coyotes).
    Thanks for the pet information. They seem less effort than a kitten.

  6. katbird permalink
    November 12, 2012

    Wow- what a beautiful spider!! Handsome little guy.

  7. November 12, 2012

    See, this is why you rock. I’ve been pre-occupied and unable to pop over and comment and the first post I see is this one with that perfectly adorable little spider looking at me. Thanks, amigo. That made me smile.

  8. November 13, 2012

    KT: Glad you liked him! He just looks so pettable in that first picture.

  9. November 13, 2012

    Doesn’t he look happy? Can spiders be happy?

  10. Bridget permalink
    November 14, 2012

    Very cute. He almost looks as though he has eyelashes.

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