By Alex Jones
STUNNING photos show a HUGE tarantula which keeps a pet frog on hand to protect its eggs.
The incredible images show a huge 20cm peruvian tarantula living happily alongside a tiny humming frog in the Amazonian rainforest below the Andes mountains in Peru.
Another photo shows the mammoth spider eating a cockroach, the tarantula towering over its amphibian amigo, and the spider’s young feasting on a treefrog killed for them by their mother.
The unusual pairing of spider and frogs works as the two have a ‘commensal’ relationship, meaning the tarantula acts a bodyguard for its slimy pet as long as the frog keeps eating any ants threatening the arachnid’s precious eggs.
The striking photos were captured by Italian naturalist Emanuele Biggi on a recent venture to South America.
“I was totally blown away when I found the huge adult female living together with more than one frog and her already grown up spawn,” he said.
“Dozens of not so tiny spiders exited from the same burrow. Amazing.
“It was definitely one of the biggest tarantulas I’ve ever seen too.
“I’d heard of the phenomena of spiders and frogs living together before, but I was still surprised to see it right in front of me.
“Nobody has ever seen these two particular species co-habiting like this before.”
Biggi, who presents wildlife shows in his native Italy, was not afraid to get down and dirty with the massive spiders to get these spectacular photos.
“To shoot these images I laid down on the ground before dusk and waited for darkness to come,” he explained.
“As soon as it was dark, the frogs were the first to emerge, then tiny spiders, then the adult one last of all.
“Outside we saw them catching a cockroach and on other occasions even other frogs, but they never tried to catch and eat the humming frog.
“The photos show how the frogs or the spiders even passed very close to each other without any trouble.
“The frog is surely protected by the presence of this huge spider around, while we suspect that the frogs also give a help to the spider by keeping ants and spider’s parasite flies at bay into the burrow – but this is still to be scientifically proven.”
The conservationist was delighted to inform people about the fascinating and intricate lives of spiders, a subject he has studied and researched for years.
“Sometimes when people see my photos they just say ‘nope’ as that’s what they’ve been conditioned to say,” Biggi continued.
“But open-minded people get really excited to know about the strange relationship in a remote forest of Peru.
“A caring mother spider which also accepts frogs in its lair isn’t really something you hear a lot about!”