04:24PM, Tuesday 25 June 2019
A critically endangered spider has been successfully bred by the Berkshire College of Agriculture’s animal management centre and students.
The Desertas wolf spider, considered one of the largest wolf spiders in the world, lives on its eponymous chain of islands near Madeira, in the Atlantic.
Its decline in numbers led to the creation of a captive breeding programme to preserve it – and BCA has been successful in helping the spider after a female birthed more than 200 spiderlings last month.
Jack Boultwood, BCA’s exotics house technician, said: “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.”
In September 2017, BCA became home to fifty juvenile wolf spiders and spent the next 18 months working with other zoological institutions to create guidelines for the species.
This has allowed a population of ‘thriving’ adult Desertas wolf spiders in British zoos and students at BCA saw the successful pairing of wolf spiders in March. BCA said this has been observed by only a handful of people.
On Saturday, May 29, 200 baby wolf spiders were found on the back of the female Desertas, and BCA said this makes it the third institute in the world to successfully breed it in captivity.
Its students can now raise and care for the species in the coming years.
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