Wolf Spiders as Pets: Your Essential Guide to Caring for These Fascinating Creatures

Are you considering a unique pet? Wolf spiders might just pique your interest. These fascinating creatures are a popular choice for arachnid enthusiasts looking for something different in a pet. Unlike most spiders that build intricate webs to capture prey, wolf spiders actively hunt their meals, providing a captivating sight for their owners.

Before you bring one home, it’s essential to learn the ins and outs of wolf spider care. These spiders require specific living conditions to thrive, such as a suitable enclosure with plenty of hiding spaces and the proper temperature and humidity levels. Additionally, it’s important to provide a diet that mimics what they’d consume in the wild.

By understanding the needs and characteristics of wolf spiders, you can ensure a harmonious experience for both you and your eight-legged companion. So, are you ready to take on the responsibility of caring for these fascinating creatures? The adventure starts now!

Understanding Wolf Spiders

Biology and Appearance

Wolf spiders are members of the Lycosidae family, known for their distinctive appearance and biological features. Their size ranges from 0.5 to 2 inches long. They have hairy bodies and legs, which make them easily identifiable. As for their color, it varies between brown, gray, black, or tan accompanied by dark brown or black body markings. Here are some characteristics to help identify them:

  • 8 eyes with a unique arrangement
  • Hairy body and legs
  • Brown to gray color with various markings or lines
  • Long legs for running and hunting

Species Diversity

There is a great diversity among wolf spider species, with more than 200 species in the United States alone. One notable species is the Carolina wolf spider, which is the largest among the Lycosidae family. Wolf spiders are found worldwide in various environments.

Habitat

Wolf spiders can be found in a wide range of habitats, including:

  • Forests
  • Meadows
  • Rocks
  • Basements
  • Outdoors

They are present in most parts of the United States, from California to the East Coast. Their choice of habitat mainly depends on the availability of food sources and resting spots, which is why they can also be found inside your home, especially in basements.

To summarize, wolf spiders are diverse, solitary natured creatures that can be found in various environments, but share some common biological and physical traits such as size, hair, eyes, and appearance. Understanding their biology and habitat preferences is essential if you are considering having one as a pet.

Behaviors and Characteristics

Hunting and Feeding

Wolf spiders, being solitary creatures, tend to hunt at night. As nocturnal hunters, they don’t create webs to catch their prey. Instead, they actively chase and hunt for their food which mostly consists of insects. Some features of their hunting and feeding behavior include:

  • Fast and agile movement
  • Beneficial for controlling insect populations
  • Low-maintenance in terms of feeding

Reproduction and Lifespan

When it comes to reproduction, wolf spiders embrace their maternal side. After laying eggs, the female wolf spider carries her egg sac around with her. Once the spiderlings hatch, they ride on their mother’s back until they are partially grown. This behavior ensures their protection until they can survive on their own. The average lifespan of a wolf spider ranges from a few months to a couple of years.

Other Characteristics

Wolf spiders are usually brown to gray in color and can be 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. They possess some distinctive characteristics:

  • Hairy body
  • Good eyesight
  • Generally non-aggressive unless provoked
  • Rarely bite, but bites may cause mild pain and redness

Seasonal Activities

These spiders have specific seasonal habits that may vary depending on their location. For example, during warmer months, they might be more active and visible as they hunt for prey. In colder months, they seek shelter in burrows or hiding places. It’s essential to adapt your pet’s habitat to mimic their natural seasonal behaviors for a comfortable living environment.

By understanding the behaviors and characteristics of wolf spiders, you can provide a suitable habitat and ensure a healthy life for your low-maintenance, eight-legged friend.

Caring for Wolf Spiders as Pets

Housing

When housing your wolf spider, a small terrarium or enclosure is essential. You can use a glass or plastic container with a secure, ventilated lid. Inside the enclosure, provide a substrate such as coconut fiber or potting soil at least 2 inches deep. This allows the spider to burrow and create hiding spots. Incorporating artificial plants and hiding spots will replicate their natural environment and reduce stress. Remember to keep the enclosure out of direct sunlight, as wolf spiders prefer cooler temperatures.

Feeding and Water

Wolf spiders are predators that thrive on a diet of various insects and bugs. Some examples of what you can feed them include:

  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Moths
  • Beetles
  • Flies
  • Worms

Feed your spider once or twice a week, depending on its size and appetite. Be sure to remove uneaten prey within 24 hours to maintain cleanliness.

In addition to food, provide a shallow water dish with clean water. Use a small bottle cap or similar object as a water dish, remembering to regularly refresh the water supply.

General Care

Caring for a wolf spider primarily involves:

  • Maintaining consistent temperature and humidity based on the specific species
  • Regular feeding and water supply
  • Cleaning the enclosure and removing uneaten prey

It’s essential to be gentle and cautious when handling your spider, as they can be skittish and may bite when frightened. Although their venom is generally not harmful to humans, a bite can be painful. Therefore, handle with care and use a soft paintbrush or similar tool to guide them. Regular health checks are also important, observing their behavior and looking for signs of injury or illness.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your wolf spider remains healthy and comfortable in their new home.

Potential Risks and Considerations

Venom and Bites

Wolf spiders are not known to be aggressive, but if they feel threatened, they might bite. Their venom is not considered dangerous to humans, but it can cause some typical reactions such as:

  • Initial pain
  • Redness
  • Localized swelling

These symptoms usually subside within 24 hours. You should always handle your wolf spider with caution and respect its space to avoid getting bitten. In case of a bite, it’s still a good idea to consult your healthcare provider or visit a vet if your other pets are bitten.

Interactions with Other Pets

Before bringing a wolf spider into your home, consider the safety of your other pets, such as birds, reptiles, and other insects. Wolf spiders are predators and may attempt to catch and eat smaller animals. Here’s a comparison of how wolf spiders might interact with different types of pets:

Pet Type Risk Level Example
Reptiles Medium Lizards
Birds Low Parakeets, canaries
Insects High Tarantulas, crickets

It’s essential to keep your wolf spider in a secure enclosure and supervise any interactions between it and your other pets to ensure everyone’s safety. In conclusion, although wolf spiders can make fascinating pets, always be aware of potential risks and take appropriate precautions for their care and handling.

Wolf Spiders in the Ecosystem

Wolf spiders play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. As predators, they help control populations of various pests, like insects and other small invertebrates. This is beneficial for humans, as it reduces potential infestation issues in gardens, homes, and crops. Furthermore, they serve as food for many predators like birds and lizards, contributing to the food chain.

While it may be tempting to remove them when spotted, remember that they don’t typically pose any harm to humans. On the contrary, their presence in the ecosystem is a sign of good health, and they help regulate the insect populations. Not only do they minimize the need for pesticides, but they may also save you from dealing with a full-blown pest infestation.

Here are some key features to remember about wolf spiders:

  • They help control pests and prevent infestations
  • They are a part of the food chain, serving as prey for larger predators
  • They do not attack humans unless threatened

In conclusion, understanding the role of wolf spiders in their ecosystem is essential for both nature lovers and homeowners alike. By respecting their place in the environment, you can appreciate the benefits they bring in keeping unwanted pests at bay and contributing to a balanced ecosystem.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

 

Is this a wolf spider?
I thought this was a tarantula but my friend says its a wolf spider. It was about 3 to 4 inches wide I would guess. And I think that those are babies on its back. What is it?
Tanya

Hi Tanya,
You are absolutely correct. This is a female Wolf Spider and her Spiderlings. The mother carries around her egg sac first and after the spiderlings hatch, she carries them on her back for a short period of time before they disperse.

Letter 2 – Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

 

Maybe a wolf spider?
Hi =)
We spotted this spider out front on the street tonight. If it helps the ID at all, this is in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and there’s a conveniently located nickel in a few of the shots. Thanks for the great site
Paul, Susan, Maggie, and Katie

Dear Paul, Susan, Maggie, and Katie,
You are correct. This is a female Wolf Spider transporting her spiderlings.

Letter 3 – Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

 

Wolf Spider and Young?
Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 3:12 PM
Saw this spider last year when I lived in Oklahoma. These are the only two photos that I could get before it went into deeper into the weeds. Is this a Wolf Spider with her young?
D.B.Ramsey
Claremore OK

Wolf Spider with Spiderlings
Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

Dear D.B.Ramsey,
Your photo illustrates typical maternal behavior of a female Wolf Spider caring for her spiderlings.  The Wolf Spider drags her egg sac around and when the spiderlings hatch, they climb on the mother’s back for several days, eventually dispersing.  This behavior is protective as well as an aid to assisting the spiderlings in their dispersal.  As they drop off the mother spider individually or in small groups, they will not be competing with one another for food.

Letter 4 – Wolf Spiderlings raised in Captivity

 

Wolf Spiders ”R” Us

Wolf Spiderling

Wolf Spiders ”R” Us
Location: East Moline, IL
December 15, 2010 11:58 am
As an amateur arachnologist, I have been keeping native wolf spiders for the last two years. I found four female wolf spiders in my back yard this year, and three of them produced egg sacs. Unfortunately, only one egg sac was viable and now I have a nice selection of Hogna helluo spiderlings. I thought you might like to see one of my little darlings, as I haven’t found anyone who keeps Wolf Spiders with the obsession of myself. Once these are raised to near adulthood, I will release them back into the wild. Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, I’m hoping Santa will bring me a better camera this year.
Signature: Ron DePaepe

Wolf Spiderling

Dear Ron,
You are our new hero.  Thank you so much for providing our readership with the opportunity to read about your endeavor to assist nature to sustain a robust population of native Wolf Spiders in your vicinity.  We also hope that Santa brings you a better camera.

Wolf Spiderling

Letter 5 – Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

 

Subject: Spider Mommy & Babies
Location: Quakertown, PA, USA
July 24, 2012 8:36 pm
Don’t know if this is useful to you. Not sure what kind of spider she was, but boy did she have a lot of babies strapped on for the ride.
Signature: Jon Kern

Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

Hi Jon,
This is a female Wolf Spider with her brood of Spiderlings and this maternal behavior is very typical for the family.

Letter 6 – Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

 

Subject: What is this bug
Location: Northern Illinois, USA
September 21, 2015
Saw what appears to be a mother spider with tons of babies all over it, pretty big once I got close, can you tell me what kind it is?
Signature: Jbmanz

Wolf Spider with Spiderlings
Wolf Spider with Spiderlings

Dear Jbmanz,
This is a female Wolf Spider from the family Lycosidae with some spiderlings.  With future submissions, please use our standard form which can be found by clicking the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

4 thoughts on “Wolf Spiders as Pets: Your Essential Guide to Caring for These Fascinating Creatures”

  1. We are overrun with wolf spiders. One bit me. It hurt. It still does. Then, after taking out the trash and recycling, I found a female with babies on its back crawling on me. I killed it. At least I hope I did. I’ve been bitten by a brown recluse. It was traumatic. I’m not OK with spiders on me.

    Reply
  2. I have had a wolf spider since this spring that came with an egg sac. She ended up burying the sac a couple weeks in & I wasn’t sure if it would hatch. She seems to be guarding something in her container, I can see small specks of reflection in the areas she’s at with a flashlight but I can’t actually see what is causing this! I was just wondering if your momma carried the sac & babies or if you have had a similar experience?

    Reply

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