Elijah Habib, of Balclutha Primary School, asks :-

Do Tarantulas eat mice?

Cor Vink, an entomologist with the Biosecurity Group at AgResearch and the Adjunct Curator of Spiders at the Entomology Research Museum at Lincoln University, responded.

A mouse would have to be very unlucky to be eaten by a tarantula. Mice are very fast moving and can see a lot better than a tarantula, so it’s likely they wouldn’t be captured. However, if a tarantula was able to completely surprise a mouse and was big enough, it would probably eat a mouse.

Most spiders will eat anything they can overcome. They can usually successfully tackle anything that is up to the same size as the spider.

There are no tarantulas in the wild in New Zealand. Tarantulas, family Theraphosidae, are usually found in the wild in warmer parts of the world, including Australia, and there are about 1000 species in the world. In New Zealand there are tarantulas in captivity at the Otago Museum and the Canterbury Museum.

In New Zealand, mice are a danger to our native spiders. Studies of the diet of mice in our native forests have shown that they often eat spiders. It is likely that mice have caused a large spider, Dolomedes schauinslandi, to become extinct on Pitt Island, in the Chatham Islands. This spider does have a safe home on Rangatira Island and Mangere Island, where there are no mice.