• Rare Snakes and Spiders
  • 29th May 2014

  • Just got back from a rather damp trip to Surrey where I met up with Matt Dowse from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, who showed me some of the work they're doing to conserve rare reptiles like this gorgeous smooth snake:
    Click here to find out more about the trust...

    Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) on Crooksbury Common, Surrey, England
    Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)

    While we were there I was able to show Matt the equally rare Hackled Orbweb Spider. More commonly known by it's latin name of Uloborus walckenaerius, it certainly isn't your typical garden spider. Firstly there's it's appearance... not only does it have an attractive black and white striped pattern and little tufts of hair on the abdomen, but the first pair of legs is nearly twice the length of the others making it look rather like a futuristic 'drag racer'.
    Hackled Orbweb Spider (Uloborus walckenaerius) on Witely Common, Surrey, England

    Then there's the web. Most orb-weaver spiders spin a vertical web and wait for insects to fly into it, but Uloborus prefers to spin a horizontal web then hang suspedend below and wait for prey to jump on top of it...
    Hackled Orbweb Spider (Uloborus walckenaerius) on it's web on Witely Common, Surrey, England

    But perhaps the strangest thing about Uloborous is the way it kills it's prey. Most spiders dispatch their unfortunate victims by injecting poison from venom glands but Uloboridae don't have venom glands so instead they crush their prey with a tight tourinquet of silk... leaving it nicely parcelled up ready for eating.