Spider Milk: Mothers Feed Their Little Ones with Milk Until They Leave the Nest

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According to a new study, baby spiders hold on to their mothers to feed them with some special kind of “spider milk”. This fluid, that’s also nutritious, has about four times the protein of the milk of the cow and feeds the little ones until they reach maturity.

It’s true, mammals (humans, too) give their child milk in order to help them develop and this behavior is quite rare in other parts of the animal’s world.

The Chinese research team behind this study examined the nesting habits of some jumping spiders, called “Toxeus Magnus”. They found that young spiders, which are also known as spiderlings, get droplets of milk that’s secreted from the mother’s underside for about 40 days before they go out on their own.

As the little spiders suck milk from the “epigastric furrow” (that’s the part on their mothers, it’s also the place from where the eggs emerge), the scientists observed that the liquid might actually come from unfertilized eggs. It’s weird that the species is assumed to be noncolonial. So it’s possible that they actually give either prolonged maternal care, or delayed dispersal.

They decided to test it

The young spiders were observed as if they were raised in a lab. They initially watched how the mothers leave drops of the milk around the nest in order for their kids to find them before they start sucking it directly from her body.

Cockroaches and pigeons are other creatures that give some form of food to their little ones until they’re completely grown up, but the bond between the parent and the child is very strong. Apparently, it’s the same with jumping spiders, too.


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