Predation on Tornier's Frog Litoria
Hylidae) by a Dolomedes like spider
Valentic & Grant Turner
anecdotal accounts exist, well documented cases of invertebrates
preying on reptiles and frogs in Australia are few. The
and scientific names of spiders mentioned below follow Main
(1984). The Sydney Funnel-web Spider Atrax robustus and
Brush-footed Trapdoor Spiders (Barychelidae)
have been documented preying upon frogs (Brunet, 1994). A
photo depicting a Barking Spider Selenocosmia
sp. preying on Litoria
lesueri appeared in ’Australia’s Dangerous Creatures’
(Underhill, 1993). Mascord (1993) wrote of an adult female Selenocosmia crassipes
that killed and ate a young
Litoria caerulea in 6 hours. Main (1984) also
lists examples of spiders eating frogs. Orange (1990)
recorded a Redback Spider Latrodectus
mactans preying upon Parasuta
a small elapid species. Two other references relating to
predation on snakes are also cited in the paper. Danny
(pers. comm. 1996) has noted several cases of Latrodectus sp. preying on Weasel
mustelinus. A large species of preying mantid Hierodula werneri
has also been observed catching frogs at Darwin (Ridpath,
Nash (1963) refers to a large brown mantid consuming a juvenile Litoria raniformis
(referred to as a Golden Bell Frog). Nursery-web Spiders Dolomedes spp.
‘capture tiny fish, tadpoles, insects and skinks’ (Brunet, 1994;
following note records a large female Dolomedes like
spider (the spider was not reliably identified as a Dolomedes sp., as
opposed to Megadolomedes
for example, and is thus referred to as ‘a Dolomedes like
spider’ in this note) subduing and feeding on an adult Litoria tornieri at
Edith Falls in the north-west section of Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge),
National Park, Northern Territory (14°11’S, 132°11’E).
10 November 1991
20:15 hours (Central Standard Time)
Full moon, clear night, (air temp. of 26°C with high relative humidity)
embankment of a large plunge-pool of the Edith River system.
Riparian flora consisting predominantly of Pandanus aquaticus and
Melaleuca sp. Understorey essentially
bare and covered by a thick layer of leaf litter.
searching for frogs by torch-light a loud disturbance amongst leaf
litter some two metres from
the river edge was noted. Upon investigation a
frog was observed leaping awkwardly as though
closer inspection a large
like spider was discovered straddled atop the frog’s dorsum, its long
wrapped tightly around and completely enveloping the prey.
spider’s chelicerae were pressed firmly into the frog’s
neck region. The frog,
which constantly jumped in a limited area (1m<),
was identified as L.
The spider appeared undeterred by these attempts to remove
it and maintained a strong grasp. After ten minutes (20:25
hours), the L. tornieri
appeared dead and the spider began feeding by raising and subsequently
fangs into the frog’s anterior half. Throughout the
the long legs remained tightly wrapped around the frog. At
22:25 hours the site was
again inspected although no sign of prey or predator could be located.PA0006218684
The frog did
not emit a distress call during the above encounter. Nash
(1963) refers to the distress call of a young Litoria raniformis
which was being consumed by a mantid. Perhaps L. tornieri are
incapable of a distress call or vocalisation is restricted to males of
this species. The gender of the above L. tornieri was
not determined during the interaction. Brunet (1994) states
typically capture prey within water where the prey is subdued and
dragged to the water’s edge and devoured. L. tornieri
are abundant in the leaf litter beneath Pandanus at the site (pers.
obs.). It is possible that the spider may have ambushed the
on land given the distance from the water that the above encounter
occurred. The spider may have dragged the frog away from the
to continue feeding referring to the 6 hour consumption span noted by
Mascord (1993). Mascord wrote: “All that remained of the frog
that time was a ball of debris 2 cm in diameter which contained bones
and skin in a mushy state”. A number of small frog species
are common at this site such as Litoria
bicolor, L. meiriana, L. rubella and Opisthodon ornatus
(pers. obs.) may also be considered potential prey for Dolomedes like
A large female Garden Wolf Spider Lycosa godeffroyi
preying upon an adult Garden Skink
Lampropholis delicata. Omeo, north-eastern
Predation of a Dainty Green Tree Frog Litoria gracilenta
by a Brown Huntsman Spider Heteropoda
sp. near Tully, north-eastern Queensland. Photographs by
to Grant Turner for his improvements to the first draft of the
manuscript and for his help in locating references.
also like to thank referees Lothar Voigt and David Millar for their
helpful comments and improvements to the manuscript.
(1994). The Silken Web - A Natural History of Australian
Spiders. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW. 208pp. Main, B.Y. (1984).
Spiders. Collins Books, Sydney, NSW. 296pp. Mascord, R. (1993).
Australian Spiders in Colour. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW. 112pp. McKeown, K.C.
(1943). Vertebrates captured by Australian Spiders. Proceedings of the
Royal Zoological Society of NSW. 1942-1943: 17-30. Nash, K.M. (1963).
Along the By-ways (Letters to the Editor). The Victorian Naturalist.
79(1):11 Orange, P.
(1990). Predation on Rhinoplocephalus
monachus (Serpentes: Elapidae) by
the Redback spider Latrodectus
mactans. Herpetofauna. 20(1):33. Underhill, D.
(1993). Australia’s Dangerous Creatures. Reader’s Digest, Surry Hills,
NSW. 368pp. Ridpath, M.G. (1977).
Predation on frogs and small birds by Hierodula Werneri
(Giglio - Toss) (Mantidae) in tropical Australia. Journal of the
Australian Entomological Society. 16:153-154.