The Marvelous World of the Ravine Trapdoor Spider: Quick Insights

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The ravine trapdoor spider is an intriguing creature, belonging to the family Ctenizidae and typically found in underground burrows. These spiders are known for their unique behavior of creating silk-lined trapdoors, a feature that allows them to catch their prey with ease as they wait for unsuspecting victims to approach their hidden lair.

Trapdoor spiders, like the ravine trapdoor spider, are distributed across the United States, particularly in the East and Southwest regions, with around 50 species belonging to the most speciose genus, Ummidia. These spiders have a variety of adaptations to suit their burrow-dwelling, ambush predator lifestyle, such as strong front legs and a specialized jaw structure to quickly capture prey.

Ravine Trapdoor Spider Basics

Species Overview

The Ravine Trapdoor Spider (Cyclocosmia truncata) belongs to the Ctenizidae or Halonoproctidae family. This unique spider has a distinctive abdomen that acts as a protective shield.

Physical Appearance

  • Size: Smaller than some other spider species, with a body length around 0.31-0.47 inches (8-12mm)
  • Color: Mostly brown or black
  • Eyes: They have eight eyes as most spiders do, but their arrangement may vary
  • Abdomen: The abdomen is flattened and has a hard, disk-like appearance, resembling a shield
  • Legs: Long, hairy legs, with the front pair usually larger and more robust than the others for assisting with digging

Distribution and Habitat

The Ravine Trapdoor Spider inhabits various regions across North America. They are typically found in areas with loose, well-draining soil, as they create silk-lined burrows with a trapdoor-like entrance. They are known to reside in wooded areas and along ravines, hence their name.

Comparison of Trapdoor Spider Families:

Feature Ctenizidae Halonoproctidae
Body Length Around 0.51-1.97 inches (13-50mm) Similar to Ctenizidae
Distribution Widespread in the East and Southwest North America North America
Habitat Various habitats, including grasslands and forests Similar to Ctenizidae

These spiders are ambush predators that spring out of their burrows when prey goes near their trapdoor entrance. They rarely venture far from their burrow and are not considered dangerous to humans.

Life and Behavior

Burrowing and Trapdoors

The ravine trapdoor spider creates a unique home called a burrow, which is a silk-lined tunnel in the ground. The burrow entrance is covered by a hinged door, also made from silk. This door camouflages the spider against predators and helps it catch prey.

  • Trapdoor made from silk
  • Hinged door for camouflage

These spiders prefer damp habitats like riverbanks and forests. They are commonly found in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Diet and Hunting

Ravine trapdoor spiders are predators with a diet mainly consisting of insects. A common prey for them is the cricket. They hunt by waiting in their burrow with their trapdoor slightly open. When an unsuspecting prey comes close, they quickly capture it.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Mating occurs near the female’s burrow, where the male ventures to find a mate. After successful mating, the female produces an egg sac inside her burrow.

  • Female lifespan: up to 12 years
  • Males lifespan: shorter than females
Attribute Males Females
Lifespan Shorter Up to 12 years

Overall, the ravine trapdoor spider is an intriguing species with interesting habits and skills like their burrowing techniques, diet and hunting strategies, and reproduction methods.

Predators and Threats

Parasitic Wasps and Other Natural Enemies

Ravine trapdoor spiders are prey to certain arthropods, particularly, parasitic wasps. These wasps lay their eggs on or near the spider’s burrow, and upon hatching, the larvae feed on the spider.

Some other natural enemies of the ravine trapdoor spider include:

  • Beetles
  • Grasshoppers

These insects may target the spiders as prey, particularly during the night when the arachnids are more active.

Human-Related Threats

Human activity is another threat facing ravine trapdoor spiders. Their habitat in Mexico, which ranges from black to dark brown, is often disrupted by construction, deforestation, and pollution. Additionally, some people may accidentally or intentionally harm these spiders due to fear or misinformation.

Comparison Table: Ravine Trapdoor Spider Predators and Threats

Threats Details
Parasitic Wasps Lay eggs near spider’s burrow; larvae consume spider upon hatching
Beetles May prey on spiders during the night
Grasshoppers May also target spiders as prey
Human Activity Habitat disruption and harm due to fear or misinformation

Overall, the ravine trapdoor spider faces both natural enemies and human-related threats, making its survival a complex challenge.

Identification and Observations

Finding Ravine Trapdoor Spiders

Ravine trapdoor spiders can be found in areas such as ravines, hilly regions, and shaded slopy areas, particularly in southeastern China. They prefer moist, sandy soil, which provides ideal conditions for their burrows. Some examples of their habitat include environments like northern Florida and southern Georgia in the United States.

Distinguishing Features

  • Body length: Ravine trapdoor spiders typically have a body length of around 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm).
  • Distribution: These spiders are mainly distributed throughout southeastern China, while certain regions of the United States, including northern Florida and southern Georgia, can also harbor some populations.

Here is a comparison of ravine trapdoor spider characteristics and their preferred habitat:

Characteristics Ravine Trapdoor Spiders
Location Southeastern China, Northern Florida, Southern Georgia
Environment Ravines, hilly regions, shaded slopy areas
Soil type Moist, sandy soil

It’s essential for humans to take care when exploring or living in areas inhabited by ravine trapdoor spiders. Although they are not considered dangerous to humans, their presence should be noted. Spiderlings, for example, can still be a potential irritant if they come into contact with people.

Ravine Trapdoor Spider as Pets

Care and Management

  • Location: Ravine trapdoor spiders are found in the eastern United States and prefer living in wooded areas with abundant leaf litter.
  • Enclosure: These arachnids require a spacious terrarium containing moist soil, hiding spots, and leaf litter. Make sure to provide a tight-fitting lid, as they can escape from small openings.
  • Feeding: In captivity, feed them once a week with insects such as crickets or locusts.

Potential Issues

  • Bite and venom: Although not highly venomous, their bites can be painful, but are rarely dangerous. Nonetheless, it’s still important to be cautious when handling them.
  • Non-aggressive nature: They are generally non-aggressive, but may become defensive if they feel threatened or stressed. It’s best to limit handling as much as possible.
  • Hunting: In the wild, ravine trapdoor spiders create circular dents lined with silk and bristles to trap their prey. Captive spiders may still exhibit this behavior, so ensure they have proper substrates to do so.
Ravine Trapdoor Spider Common Pet Tarantula
Bite Painful Usually mild
Venom Mild Mild
Behavior Non-aggressive Lazy, docile
Care Moderate Easy

Caring for a ravine trapdoor spider can be an interesting and rewarding experience for dedicated enthusiasts. However, be prepared for the potential challenges and always handle them with care.


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Tags: Trapdoor Spiders

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12 Comments. Leave new

  • The second graders found a male Trapdoor spider (very emaciated) on mt washington elem. campus this morning. I’m about to let him back onto a south-facing slope, in hopes he’ll find a mate. Seems to me their romantic wanderings of the males could be tied to the onset of rain?

  • I found one of these spiders walking slowly across my car porch tonight (12/17/2012) and I am wondering if they are supposed to be this far east and south .It is not dead and I am not sure what to do with it as the weather is very cold right now. I would attach a photo but not sure how to go about doing that.

    • You did not provide a location, so we cannot answer your question regarding the range of the California Trapdoor Spider. You can submit photos to our site by using our Ask WTB? link on our homepage.

  • I have found these as well 50ft from the TN/AL line. The professor at UAH (Huntsville) said it was a tarantuloid. Yes the width was over 3 1/2 inches. He said that they are all over this side of the US. And during the fall, they seem to be found more often. I was born and raised in North Alabama and that was the first and only one I have seen in my 47 years. It wasnt as fuzzy as my “Hairy-ette” but it did have the moves and was quite fuzzy- and the back seemed to have the “shield”. I actually have had a rose hair tarantula sharing my home for years. Tarantulas are very beautiful and misunderstood!

  • My son sent me this spider picture that he found outside his work. He is a Marine stationed in San Diego Cali. I looked on your site and sure enough it sure looks like a male California Trapdoor Spider.

  • We found a very similar spider on our screen door this morning in Oceanside, California. Nearly 3″ in length and yesterday it rained!

  • my husband has seen 2 like this and is freaking out about it! yes! it’s big and he keeps saying it’s a tarantula! i told him to take a picture they keep coming up on the carport, he said their sold black and fuzzy, is something new moved into north alabama ?

  • I just found one in my garage, dead in the cat’s water dish. I have pics. It was 2-3 inches long.

  • Donna Schlesinger
    July 24, 2018 11:16 pm

    I found one on the brick by my front door and it was about 4 to 5 inches. I was so afraid o killed it before thinking to get a picture. Never seen another and still in shock over it.

  • I live in Alabama and have seen several o my porch and brick wall. I don’t think the gentleman asking you the question was Wrong about the size, they are HUGEEEEE! I don’t believe that they are tarantulas, but I believe they may be in the tarantula family. I am a city girl that has recently moved to the country. Between these spiders, that look big enough to tote you off and the snakes that I have found in my yard, on my porch and recently inside my home…. I am so not loving it and I am ready to go back to the city. ?

  • Michelle Smith
    March 12, 2020 8:01 pm

    I live in North Central Alabama, Walker County to be exact, and we live in the country. Weve been gone for about a week and came home and was fixing to mop and found one in our black mop bucket. It scared the bejesus out of my 10 yr old. Ours was about the size of a large plum and solid black and fuzzy. I came online because Ive never seen one like it before. It moved very slow and methodically, just like a tarantula. Really creepy. I hope I dont see another one anytime soon.

  • I caught a male at 2AM last night he’s very edgy but he lets me feed him like my Tarantulas which I have 3 of


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