Thursday, November 13, 2014

Our Regal Regina

SPIDERS! The word alone might cause some people to stop reading this post. Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is one of the top ten most common phobias in the world.

Today we would like to introduce you to one of the spiders at Pacific Science Center: our currently off-exhibit regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius), Regina.

Why do we keep our jumping spider off exhibit? Is it because she’s too terrifying for the general public to witness?!?! No! We keep Regina off-exhibit because she’s tiny, spends most of her time hiding in a silk tent, and is, quite frankly, not the most exciting exhibit animal. She was once on exhibit but not often visible in her enclosure. We replaced her with a very active, very visible, and very charismatic giant centipede.

In need of a new home, we moved Regina to a small container that sits in our Animal Care office. Since her move, we have grown even fonder of our jumping spider and Regina has become something of a mascot for the staff. It is not rare to come into the Animal Care office to see one of the caretakers crouched over her tiny home, with a camera focused in for a picture.

So what is it that makes her so fun to look at? Is it her iridescent chelicera? The beautiful markings on her abdomen? Her eight prominent eyes? Regina is arguably just as beautiful as the butterflies in our Tropical Butterfly House, in her own way. Her common name is, after all, “Regal Jumping Spider.”

Perhaps it is the way she eats her mealworms and crickets (which are sometimes just as big as she is) with gusto? Or the way she goes on tiny adventures around her enclosure, finding the best place to silk up camp? Or the way that when she falls asleep on the wall of her home her abdomen droops to one side ever so slightly, until a vibration wakens and alerts her?

Ultimately, it is hard to say what makes her so special, but she has earned the title of “gateway spider” because even people with arachnophobia can’t help but use the word “cute” to describe her. Our Regina is from the Southeastern United States, but there are native jumping spiders such as Phiddipus audax that you can keep an eye out for. They are smaller and have darker coloring, but have similar body shapes and iridescent chelicera. They love to hang out in orchards and blackberry bramble.

We are currently brainstorming solutions to get Regina back on exhibit in a space where she is easily visible, but until then enjoy her cuteness. And stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. My daughter would love her. She loves spiders so much and thinks they're so cute.