Lots of people are fascinated with tarantulas and other spiders, but one of the questions we are most often asked is whether or not these creatures sleep.
Spiders do not sleep in the way that humans do, or at least as we understand what sleep is. Although tarantulas have eyes, they do not have eyelids, meaning that they cannot close their eyes. This in turn means that they do not sleep in the same way that we do. As tarantulas are nocturnal creatures by nature, they are obviously most active at night. This then means that they do not move about much during the day. So while they are not actually ‘sleeping’ during the day, they are less active. This period is known as resting.
Why Do Tarantulas Have Resting Periods?
As tarantulas cannot sleep, one might wonder why they have periods of rest at all. Well, resting offers tarantulas time to conserve their energy. This then allows them to spring into action should the need arise.
Indeed, tarantulas tend to stay quite still during the daytime as this is when most of their predators are active. So by moving about mostly at night, they avoid many of the creatures that might consider them a tasty meal, such as birds for example. Basically, tarantulas feel much safer at night and it is when they usually leave their burrows to hunt for food or to mate.
One other reason that tarantulas rest during the day is that it is often too hot in their natural habitat. Remember, most tarantulas hail from hot, arid regions so retreating deep into burrows during the day means they can stay cooler.
Some tarantula species have much longer resting periods, almost like a form of hibernation. Those that live in slightly cooler climes will retreat into their burrows during chillier periods, ensuring that the entrance has been plugged with webbing and dirt. They will then remain deep in the burrow for the duration of the colder weather, sometimes staying there until the warmer weather of spring arrives.
- Featured Image (Blue Foot Baboon): Quengsalinas – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
- Acanthoscurria gomesiana: Source: Hector M. O. Gonzalez-Filho, Sylvia M. Lucas, Felipe dos S. Paula, Rafael P. Indicatti, and Antonio D. Brescovit (2012) “On the Taxonomy of Acanthoscurria Ausserer from Southeastern Brazil with Data on the Natural History of A. gomesiana Mello-Leitão (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae)”, International Journal of Zoology, vol. 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/721793 Figure 1 – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
- Mexican Fireleg: Micha L. Rieser
- Chaco Golden Knee: PavelSI – public domain