I was working on an enclosure today and noticed Clementine, one of my Phidippus regius, was quite active. I decided to take her out for a little photoshoot and let her run around. I don’t have anything fancy; just a $3 clip-on macro lens on a Galaxy S8+. It was hard to keep her in focus as she kept jumping on the lens!
I wanted to use this opportunity to show how timid and gentle these creatures really are. There’s no reason to be scared of anything in the Salticidae family. None of them have venom that could be considered medically significant. Bites from jumpers are rare and mostly caused by pinning the spider against the skin. Even then full envenomations are uncommon. Venom is expensive to produce and they need it to eat!
While bites from jumpers are rare, they still happen every once in a while. Not everybody reacts to venom the same way. Just know that the risk is always there and to respect the animal. This is especially true with wild spiders. If you don’t know what it is, don’t poke it. Even though there are only two medically significant spiders in the US, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to pick up unidentified spiders. Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way… Jumpers are like any spider and don’t really get much out of handling. They are curious by nature but also incredibly skittish. The slightest movement could send them bolting or rappelling to the ground. Because of this I believe catch cups can be risky for your pet jumper depending on their size. Keep in mind that this is more for larger jumpers like Phids or Hyllus. Since they are so fast and large it can be easy to catch them between the cup and whatever surface they are on. Any puncture or crushing wound on a jumper is most likely fatal due to loss of internal pressure. Sometimes they can drop a damaged leg and survive but I’d rather not take any chances. Instead I use my hands or a small paintbrush to control them to minimize the risk.
The trick is to let the spider go where it wants. As long as it’s not pinned against your skin it has no reason to bite. Simply place your hand flat in front of the spider and use your other hand to gently brush the back legs to coax it onto your palm. Jumpers have a surprising memory and can remember negative experiences. That being said, with frequent handling they may get used to you and take food from your fingers! Every jumper is different and some are more opposed to handling than others. I’ve found that it is possible to get them used to fingers and some like Clementine have even allowed me to gently pet the hairs on their abdomen without bolting.
I don’t advocate handling spiders, but if you raise them then it will probably need to happen at some point. It’s important to learn to do it properly to avoid unnecessary stress for both you and your animal. Be safe!