Are spiders dangerous around chickens???

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chuckzoo, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Songster

    Apr 20, 2009
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    I was cleaning the run this morning and happened upon a fairly large spider hiding under the shavings. My 1 yr old BR when after it but I was not sure if it would harm her if she ate it so I shoved her away from it. Did I deprive her of a tasty morsel?

    I also have spiders spinning their webs in the coop and run. If they are traping mozzies and flies that is a good thing right? I think it looks a little unsightly though. Should I clean them up?

    If spiders bite a chicken can they harm it - are they poisonous to chickens?
  2. TanithT

    TanithT In the Brooder

    Jul 13, 2010
    Raleigh, NC
    For starters the bad news; you have both of the species of medical importance (Loxosceles and Latrodectus, recluses and widows) in your area. The good news is that verified bites are ridiculously rare, and the majority of the "brown recluse" bites reported are due to other common causes. Medical misdiagnosis of loxoscelism is annoyingly common; the AMA has a position paper on it and there's more in the scientific literature basically chiding doctors for missing obvious differentials and calling it "spider bite" when it clearly isn't. Generic doctors aren't experts on envenomation, unfortunately, and in the US they seem to miss a lot more than they get right.

    Due to the physiology and known behaviors of both spiders and chickens, I very seriously doubt that a bite to a chicken from either a recluse or a widow is likely. Spider fangs are teeny-tiny even in relatively large adults, and can barely penetrate human epidermis. Generally they need assistance to do so, being compressed between skin and clothing. They would have even more trouble with chicken skin and feathers, and animal fur, which is why genuine spider bites to pets and animals are extremely rare in the veterinary field.

    A spider cannot make accurate determinations as to its bite target, other than in the prey it specifically evolved to eat, and when they bite at all they will bite at any presented object including a feather. I don't see a spider getting anywhere near a thin enough bit of epidermis to bite, unless it was taken into the mouth and swallowed whole without being pecked to pieces first. Even then, I don't see a bite as a very likely scenario as the spider is not going to be in an optimal position, or probably very functional after being snatched in a hard beak.

    If you're asking if they are poisonous to consume, as opposed to being able to deliver a venomous bite, the answer is no, they are not. Birds are a major predator of spiders in the wild.

    Spiders in North America that are not in either of those two genera are not medically significant (with the possible exception of hobos and yellow sacs, but that's a little dubious) and you can ignore them as they are incapable of harming anything bigger than a bug.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2010
  3. Our chickens love them! They will even eat the eggs and sack if they can find them. We roll rocks for them so they can get the REALLY big ugly ones. I wish we had a house chicken so they could eat the big ugly hobo spiders in our basement! [​IMG]

    As for being poisonous.....I guess I've never given it much thought. Our chickens seem to know what is tasty and ok and what is not. We have a big black stink beetle the chickens won't even go near if there is one around. The consumption of the spider seems to happen so fast, I don't even think the spider knows what happened!
  4. texasgal

    texasgal Brood with an Attitude

    Apr 18, 2009
    Spiders are ENDANGERED around my chickens!!

    DH is an arachnofobe .. he totally fell in love with the chickens one day when he saw one run up to the house, jump up in the air to get to a spider on the outside wall of our house ..

    He talked about that for DAYS .. loves his spider eatin' girls!
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I recently posted about a wolf spider biting a young cockerel on the wing and leaving a nasty wound. The spider attacked him while he was trying to attack it.
    With my adult chickens it's the other way around. They feast on spiders with no problem.
  6. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

    Mar 4, 2009
    Broodyland, TN
    My Coop
    My spider infestation (yuck) under the trees out back has nearly disappeared after adding chickens. As a matter of fact, first thing every morning a few girls run to the treeline and patrol for any spiders that may have materialized overnight. Last year I couldn't stand in the planter without spiders crawling on me (YUCK). This year I haven't seen one in a while......
  7. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Songster

    Apr 20, 2009
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    Thanks for all the great info guys!
  8. perl

    perl In the Brooder

    Jul 29, 2010
    Corvallis, OR
    Spiders are like bon-bons for our ladies! Nom, nom, nom.
  9. HennyJenny

    HennyJenny Songster

    Dec 26, 2009
    Bennington, NE
    We used to have big black and yellow garden spiders and I spent summer weekends identifying spiders and bugs for little boys - until I got chickens - now you couldn't find a daddy-long-legs in my yard - the only reason there are lightening bugs is because the girls are asleep - if only they would eat the ten billion flies they seem to be helping propogate.
  10. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I keep threatening to let the chickens run under the house. There are so many spiders under there that the termite guy is afraid of them. Or at least there used to be....I haven't been under there in a while.
    I've only seen one black widow though (last summer when we only had 5 chickens) and she was thoroughly bug sprayed for setting up her nest right next to my water spigot!

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