Breeding Success for Critically Endangered Arachnid at BCA.

Our Animal Management Centre and students have successfully bred one of the world’s most endangered spiders, the Critically Endangered Desertas Wolf Spider.

The Desertas wolf spider is regarded as being the largest wolf spider in the world and is one of the top predators on the island of Desertas, Portugal. The decline of the species called for a captive breeding programme to be created to aid the preservation of this rare arachnid.

Back in September 2017, we became the home to 50 juvenile wolf spiders. For the next year and a half, the College worked with the other zoological institutions to create best practice guidelines for this species, which has been integral in producing a population of thriving adult Desertas wolf spiders across UK zoos. With a population of healthy spiders doing well, breeding trials were able to begin. The successful pairing of the wolf spiders was observed by students in March of this year, an event that has only been witnessed by a handful of people around the world. 

On the 29th of May, over 200 wolf ‘spiderlings’ were found on the back of the female Desertas wolf spider. This made BCA only the third institute in the world to successfully breed this species in captivity and the first to give this rare experience to students. With the successful breeding of this species, we are now able to offer our students the experience of raising and caring for this Critically Endangered spider for years to come. 

Exotics House Technician, Jack Boultwood, explains “Being able to provide this rare opportunity for our students is brilliant, it helps us show that not all conservation efforts are for the big charismatic species and hopefully will inspire them to work with underrepresented species in their futures. The Desertas wolf spiders have been a brilliant species to work with alongside our students, improving our industry links and reputation not just for the College as a whole, but for our students as well.”