Pet Jumping Spider Care:
A Comprehensive Guide
Welcome to the Jumping Spider Hobby! We're excited to have you here and understand that you may have some questions as a newcomer. Remember, your jumper knows what it's doing; spiders are resilient creatures that adapt well to environmental variations. In addition, they are considered relatively easy to care for, making them an excellent option for those new to the hobby or those with limited experience."
This comprehensive guide is here to help, but if you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Keeping and caring for a pet jumping spider includes providing an appropriate enclosure, feeding live insects, cleaning, and maintaining proper lighting cycles, temperature and humidity. They are known for their unique behaviour and intelligence, making them popular among hobbyists. Besides, they can be kept in relatively small containers. The hobby includes observing and studying their behaviour and learning about different species, which can be entertaining, educational and calming, and some people even overcome their fear of spiders.
What are jumping spiders?
Jumping spiders are a type of "true spider" that belongs to the Salticidae family. There are over 6,000 different species found all around the world, except for Antarctica. They have a compact and robust bodies, powerful legs and big eyes. They are active hunters, stalking their prey before pouncing on it. They have excellent vision and can see in colour, which is unusual for spiders. They make great low-maintenance pets and are entertaining to watch.
Jumping spiders have an advanced vision that is sharper than any other spider system. It detects and tracks small moving objects with great precision and can see various colours, including ultraviolet (UV), blue, green and red. They have four pairs of eyes, the two principal eyes being the largest and most complex. They also have a highly developed nervous system, which allows them to process visual information quickly and make complex decisions, making them excellent hunters.
In terms of their habitat, jumping spiders can be found in various environments, from rainforests to deserts, on every continent except Antarctica. They are known for their vivid coloration and patterns, which vary depending on the species.
The origin of jumping spiders is not known with certainty. Still, it is believed that they evolved from an ancient group of spiders that lived around 180 million years ago during the Jurassic period. Fossil evidence suggests that jumping spiders have mostly stayed the same over time and are very similar in appearance to modern jumping spiders.
Jumping spiders can make excellent pets because they are one of the most intelligent spider species. Some enjoy interacting with their owners, while others may be shy. However, they are one of the friendliest spider species, so there's little risk of being bitten if handled gently. When caring for your jumping spider, it's essential to research the specific conditions their wild habitat provides and try to recreate that environment. This will ensure your pet has a safe home.
How to obtain your pet jumping spider?
When obtaining a jumping spider, you can purchase from a breeder or catch one from the wild. There is a debate within the community about capturing wild specimens. Still, it's essential to remember that you should only adopt as many as you can care for adequately. The method of obtaining a jumping spider does not affect its personality. It's best to avoid capturing wild mature females as they may be fertile and create complications.
You don't have to travel far to catch a jumping spider, as they can often be spotted crawling on plants, in sunny windows indoors, walls, fences and trees outdoors. To catch a spider, use a small clear container, and coax it inside with a small brush or your hand. Avoid grabbing the spider as it may become scared and bite as a reflex. If you need help identifying your wild-caught spider, you can visit www.inaturalist.org or contact the community for help.
When purchasing a jumping spider from a breeder, research the breeder carefully and ask about the spider's age to understand your commitment. The goal is to acquire a juvenile specimen that is a captive bred (CB), so it still has plenty of life with you. In addition, a good breeder will have experience shipping spiders safely and will not cause an impact on the environment or incur illegal practices.
If your newly acquired pet is struggling in its enclosure, don't worry, as it may be adjusting to the new environment and will quickly web up the enclosure and be able to climb without issue.
Species found in North America.
Jumping spiders (j.s.) found in North America include various species, such as:
Phidippus audax (Bold j.s.)
Platycryptus undatus (Tan j.s.)
Salticus scenicus (Zebra j.s.)
Paraphidippus aurantius (Golden j.s.)
Phidippus clarus (Brilliant j.s.)
Phidippus johnsoni (Johnson's j.s.)
Platycryptus californicus (California flattened j.s.)
Phidippus putnami (Putnam's j.s.)
Phidippus otiosus (Canopy j.s.)
Phidippus princeps (Grayish j.s.)
Phidippus regius ((Regal j.s.)
Phidippus whitmani (Whitman's j.s.)
Phidippus mystaceus (High eyelashed j.s.)
Phidippus purpuratus (Marbled purple j.s.)
Phidippus borealis (Boreal tufted j.s.)
Phidippus apacheanus (Apache j.s.)
Phidippus arizonensis (Arizona j.s.)
Phidippus octopunctatus (Desert j.s.)
Pelegrina proterva (Common white-cheeked j.s.)
Habronattus decorus (Beautiful ornamented j.s.)
The two most commonly kept species of jumping spiders in North America are the Phidippus Audax (Bold Jumping Spider) and the Phidippus Regius (Regal Jumping Spider).
Bold Jumping Spiders (Phidippus Audax) are easily recognizable with their black and white bodies (orange/black as spiderlings), often with iridescent green or blue chelicerae. Female spiders can reach up to 8-19mm, while males can grow up to 6-13mm. They are active and show their docile and bold personality through their movements. A distinctive identifier is a white triangle in the center of the back and two smaller spots underneath. In addition, the legs and pedipalps have distinctive white banding and fringes, which are more noticeable in males.
Regal Jumping Spiders (Phidippus Regius) are famous jumping spiders kept as pets due to their large size and attractive coloration in females. The males are black with white patterns consisting of spots and stripes (which can cause trouble identifying them instead of bold or audax). The females may retain the same patterns as males, but beautiful colours ranging from gray to vivid oranges are present instead of black tones, and the fringes on the leg are less distinct. Chelicerae have intense colours ranging from green to blue or violet. Adult males average 12mm in length, and adult females average 15mm, with a range of 6-18mm for males and 7-22mm for females. This species is active during the day.
Recommended tools and equipment.
When caring for a jumping spider, there are a few tools and items that can be helpful to have on hand:
Tweezers for picking up meals or moving objects in the enclosure.
Small paintbrush, ideally a soft bristle brush, and a small clear container for coaxing the spider (catch cup).
A spray bottle with a very fine mist and pipette for hydrating the enclosure.
Distilled water, such is better as it prevents mineral build-up on surfaces.
Light source; to regulate the photoperiodism of spiders and maintain appropriate light cycles.
Heat source to maintain the desired temperature (be cautious).
Decorations such as sticks, leaves, natural textures, silk flowers, or miniature furniture that has been concluded to be safe for the spider. Items can often be heat treated and sealed to prolong their lives and reduce mould.
Magnets to secure decorations in place.
Food-safe adhesives include 100% silicone, cyanoacrylate, mod podge, and epoxy.
Feeder insects, such as fruit flies, house flies, mealworms, pinhead crickets etc.
Arboreal Enclosure, either bought or DIY, with adequate ventilation, escape proof and big enough to contain the spider.
Optionally, a natural enclosure with a substrate at the bottom can maintain moisture levels such as coconut fibre, moss, sand, or soil (species dependent). In addition, soil-based substrates such as coconut fibre, moss, sand, or soil (species dependent) or items such as cotton balls and dust-free vermiculite or perlite can be combined.
Click here to jump to the "Jumping Spiders Enclosure Setup Guide." We also cover the topics of "Temperature, Lighting, Ventilation & Hydration."
Feeding frequency & prey selection for Jumping Spiders.
When feeding your jumping spider, it's essential to consider the size of the prey in relation to the size of the spider. Baby spiderlings may eat 2-3 fruit flies per day, and as they grow, the prey they eat will also get bigger. Jumping spiders can take down prey twice their size. As they grow, gradually reduce the frequency of feedings and observe their body shape as a guide. If they are still plump (full round abdomen), wait to feed them. Sub-adults may only eat every 3-8 days, while adults may feed every 5-10 days.
The best indicator of when your spider is hungry is the shape of its abdomen. A plump abdomen indicates good health, as it likely has a full stomach and enough water. An engorged spider may have been overfed, which can lead to health problems. On the other hand, a shrivelled or shrunk-down abdomen may indicate that the spider is hungry or dehydrated.
Good prey choices include wingless fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), dubia roaches, houseflies, spikes (maggots), small mealworms, wax worms, black soldier flies, blue bottle flies, and crickets. Avoid hard-shelled beetles and ants, as they can pinch or spray formic acid. Moths and other insects that can't bite are also safe choices. If you're concerned about crickets or other biting insects hurting your spider, remove the back legs or try a different feeder.
Your spider may take several hours to eat its prey, and it's best to let them hang on to it and feed at its own pace. This is because the mouthparts of a spider are quite different from those of mammals. They don’t have teeth and cannot chew; instead, they have specialized mouthparts called chelicerae, which work similarly to straws. The chelicerae are full of muscles and work with other, smaller mouthparts to suck up water and the liquefied insides of their prey.
Females may feed for longer than males. Avoid overfeeding, as it can cause them to become too plump, fall in the enclosure, or cause abdominal torsion and rupture. Overfeeding can also cause them to molt too quickly, which can shorten their lifespan. If your spider isn't eating for a while, you can try stimulating them with light or heat and placing worm guts near their face. If they still don't eat, don't worry; they will be fine. Unfortunately, if they are not eating, there's not much you can do about it.
It's essential to keep the enclosure clean and remove any old food or waste regularly. You can spot clean with a q-tip and water needed. Be sure to provide appropriate-sized prey, and remember that your spider may have individual food preferences. Do not disturb the spider while eating, no matter how long it takes.
Maintaining a clean and healthy enclosure.
As your spider lives in the enclosure, it may become dirty with "bathroom spots," old meals, and webbing. You can spot clean as needed with a q-tip and water and remove unwanted food. Leave the webbing, as it helps the spider move around. You may also need to replace the substrate from time to time. The aim is to keep the organic waste to a minimum to prevent the possibility of mould growth or decomposition.
Before introducing your spider to a new enclosure, clean it thoroughly and everything that will be placed inside, using mild dish soap and rinsing well. If any adhesives or sealants have been used to attach accessories or decorations, please let it dry or cure properly so that any gas-off byproducts are gone.
Enclosures made by us ship already sanitized and ready to be used.
Handling and interaction.
Handling and interacting with your pet jumping spider should be done with care, as they are small and can easily be squished or have their abdomen ruptured. When handling your jumping spider, it's best to use a soft bristle brush to coax the spider gently. Do so over an ample space that offers a contrasting background, clear of objects and hiding areas; if your spider decides to jump, it gives you more space to maneuver and an easier time seeing your spider's moves.
Although rare, It's important to note that jumping spiders can bite humans if they feel threatened or squished. If bitten, it will feel similar to a bee sting. If you experience a severe allergic reaction, contact emergency services immediately.
If it's your first time handling a jumping spider, it's best to take it slow. Ensure your jumping spider is not in premolt as it can be dangerous to disturb during this time. Clear up an area around the enclosure and have a “catching cup” ready, such as a clear plastic cup, to catch the spider in case something goes wrong.
Gently guide your spider out of the enclosure using the soft bristle brush, and let it familiarize itself with its surroundings before trying to handle it. When the spider is out, provide it with climbing surfaces and wait until it stops hiding and trying to get away before handling it.
There are two ways to approach handling: guiding the spider to your hand with a brush or tricking the spider into jumping on your hand. Once the spider is on your hand, place your other hand in front of it, so it goes from one hand to another when it moves. With patience and regular interactions, the spider will become comfortable with being handled.
Webs, hammocks, hides and sacs.
Jumping spiders build their hammocks using silk from their bodies. The silk is produced by glands in the spider's abdomen and is used to create a web-like structure that serves as a resting place. The silk used to make the hammock is very strong and durable, allowing the spider to anchor itself while it rests securely.
Jumping spiders build their hammocks in various locations, such as under leaves, on twigs, or on the walls of buildings. They build hammocks as a place to rest and protect themselves from predators. However, hammocks also serve as a location to wait for prey. Therefore, such hammocks tend to be situated up high in a location with good visibility.
Hammocks can be located in various places, such as in plants, under leaves, on twigs, branches, walls of buildings, crevices, and other protected areas. They tend to be located in places where the spider can have a clear view of its surroundings and be able to detect potential prey or predators. They also prefer areas that are protected from the elements and where they are less likely to be disturbed.
Jumping spiders do not use webs for hunting. Aside from building their hammock, they can also use strands of silk to cover surfaces, making them easier to climb. They also use silk as a safety line when jumping. They produce a line of silk before they jump, which allows them to control the trajectory of their jump and also serves as a safety line in case they misjudge the distance or direction of their jump. If the spider misses its target or overshoots, it can use the silk line to pull itself back to its starting point or a nearby surface. This behaviour is called "bridging," which allows the spider to move around without risking falling or getting lost.
A spider hide is a structure or location that a spider uses to hide from predators and other potential dangers. This can be a natural or human-made structure, including crevices, leaf litter, rocks, or the corners of a room. A spider hide can also be a web or a silk retreat (Hammock).
A spider sac, also known as an egg sac, is a structure created by female spiders to protect and nourish their eggs until they hatch. The sac is made of silk and is usually spherical or oval. The female spider will deposit her eggs inside the sac and seal it with more silk. The sac is usually suspended in a web or hidden in a safe location such as a crevice or leaf litter. The eggs develop inside the sac, protected from predators and environmental factors, and hatch into spiderlings when ready. Some spider species will guard their egg sac until the spiderlings hatch, while others abandon it once the eggs are laid.
If you want to learn more about breeding, sexing, eggs and spiderling care; head over to the "Jumping Spider Breeding & Sexing Guide."
Molting, instars and life expectancy.
Occasionally but rarely, you may encounter a spider that molts outside in the open which is more common in young spiders. They may lay on their side or back, appearing strange with stiffened legs while they wiggle to shed their old exoskeleton. Spiders may lose legs during the molting process. If they are still young with more molts to come, they will likely regain the lost limb in a molt or two. However, if they are an adult and lose a limb, it will not regrow. In rare cases, a spider may die during the molting process, known as a mismolt. It's essential to maintain adequate moisture levels in their enclosure to avoid mismolts.
Jumping spiders generally have a relatively short lifespan, with the average life expectancy in captivity being around one to two years. However, the lifespan can vary depending on the species. For example, the Phidippus Audax species has a lifespan of about 1-2 years in captivity. The Regal Jumping Spider's lifespan is about 1-1.5 years. It's important to remember that they are susceptible to stress and poor living conditions, which can shorten their lifespan. Proper care and a healthy environment can help prolong the life of your jumping spider.
An instar is a developmental stage of a spider between molts. It is a term used to describe or measure the number of stages it has been through, where it will molt (shed its exoskeleton) and grow a new one. The number of instars can vary depending on the species, but generally, there are several instars between hatching and reaching adulthood. Jumping spiders molt roughly 8 times over a 9-month period.
The instar number is used to indicate which developmental stage an individual is in. For example, "instar nine" is typically abbreviated as "i9," indicating that the spider is in its ninth developmental stage. Aside from the instar description, it is common to refer to the life stages of a spider as egg, spiderling, juvenile, sub-adult, adult and mature.
The first instar is when the spider hatches from an egg and will continue to molt and increase its instar number with each molt. After molting, spiders have a soft exoskeleton and are vulnerable; therefore, it's important not to disturb their molting process and provide enough moisture in the enclosure to avoid tragic molting situations.
Jumping spiders typically molt within their existing web or hammock. However, some may spin a small cocoon before molting, primarily used to protect the spider from predators or other outside elements during this vulnerable state. The molting process takes a longer time as the spider gets older. Young spiders may only be in the hammock for a few hours, while during their final molt, they may be there for a month. They may not eat during this time. Therefore, it's important to avoid disturbing their hammock and to wait a few days after they emerge to offer food to ensure they are not hurt while their exoskeleton hardens.
Caring for an elderly pet.
As your spider ages, it may undergo various changes in its appearance. For example, you may notice differences in colour or markings with each molt; in some cases, the spider's front legs may become longer and hairier.
A spider's tarsus, the final leg segment, contains claws for gripping and setae/bristles for sensory info, vibration detection, prey detection/capture, and clinging. Some spiders also have specialized "scopulae" setae, which use van der Waals forces to stick to surfaces like geckos.
Older spiders have trouble climbing and clinging because the components in their tarsus, particularly setae, don't replenish after their last molt. With age, these parts wear out and lose their capacity to do their job. This changes their behaviour to take fewer risky jumps. As a result, they eat less, are less active, and conserve resources efficiently.
To help with this, you can line the enclosure with a napkin and provide more decor for walking. This also provides padding in case your spider slips and falls. It would help if you also discontinued offering insects that can bite it, like crickets. Instead, you can use flies or pre-kill the food. You can drop the pre-prepared food near the spider's hammock, and it will come out and take it.
Smaller enclosures can be more comfortable for an elder spider with difficulty moving around. An enclosure with plenty of webbing can make a restful place for a spider that can not produce silk.
Health and common illnesses.
The most common factors that affect jumping spiders' health are:
Quality of air and proper ventilation, spiders are susceptible to scents and chemicals. Therefore, avoid using candles, air fresheners, pesticides, flea medication, toxic cleaning products, or any other poisons in the area where your spider is kept. Remove your spider from your home for at least 72 hours if such products must be used.
Quality of food - a good variety of feeders is important
Proper humidity levels - dehydration and excessive humidity are among the most common reasons for death.
Proper photoperiodism cycle - low light or short periods can trigger diapause-like behaviour.
Clean enclosure free of mould and pests.
The most common illnesses in jumping spiders are:
Heatstroke can occur if the spider is placed in direct sunlight or unregulated external heating elements. It can be treated by providing ample humidity and keeping the enclosure warm but not hot.
Egg binding is when the spider cannot lay eggs, and there is no known treatment.
Mismolting occurs when the spider fails to shed its exoskeleton correctly, and little can be done to help; it can be prevented by having increased humidity during the molting process.
Failure to thrive is when spiderlings fail to eat and grow, and the cause is unknown.
Drowning can happen if the spider falls into the water, and little can be done to help.
Passive recessive disorder is a genetic disorder that results in unusual behaviour and death.
DKS is a disorder characterized by jerky motions, poor coordination, and loss of appetite; there is no known cause or treatment.
Treatment for these conditions is uncertain, and there needs to be more scientific literature on the matter; some people try to provide ample fluids like sugar water or honey water using a cotton swab.
Other people use a spider ICU (intensive care unit), which can help in some cases like dehydration. It usually consists of a clean, plastic container with air holes and a tight-fitting lid. It is used to revive dehydrated spiders or suffering from other health issues. The container is filled with paper towels on all sides saturated with warm water, but there should be no standing water as spiders breathe through book lungs on the underside of their abdomen. The increase in humidity helps prevent further dehydration and allows the spider to rehydrate through its book lungs and intersegmental membranes. Some keepers suggest that the spider can drink the liquid from the paper towel to aid in rehydration.