Fun Nelson Cave Spider Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Nelson Cave Spider Facts For Kids

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The cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) is one of New Zealand's largest and rarest species of spiders. These spiders are famous for living in caves and their long claws. A Spelungula cavernicola Nelson cave spider was given its name from ancient Latin language, where 'spelunca' meant 'cave' and was feminine in gender. The other side cavernicola points towards a species that likes to live in a cave or is restricted to it. These Nelson cave spider spelungula are a native species from New Zealand and are one of the largest spiders.

The first two pairs of legs can have a leg span as long as 5.1 in (13 cm), they also have a long claw. Their long claws are very useful as they often stay clung to the wall waiting for their prey and then drop down on them from above.

To dive more into this universe of surprising animals and incredible insects, don't forget to check out our articles on black house spiders and orb-weaver spiders.

Fun Nelson Cave Spider Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Flies, woodlice, and slugs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.0017-0.0028oz (0.02-0.08 g)

How long are they?

0.94-1 in (2.4 -2.6 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type

Dry scales

What were their main threats?

Humans, Environmental Threat

What is their conservation status?

Data Deficient

Where you'll find them?

Deserts, Tundra, Rainforests


New Zealand









Nelson Cave Spider Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Nelson cave spider?

As the name suggests, the cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) is a type of spider found in the caves of Nelson and Buller regions.

What class of animal does a Nelson cave spider belong to?

The Spelungula cavernicola Nelson cave spider belongs to the Arachnida class. Some people very often confuse these spiders with sheet web spiders due to their large bodies. Although, the cave spider Nelson is very different from them and is not found in gardens or domestic areas, unlike other large spiders.

How many Nelson cave spiders are there in the world?

The Nelson cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) is a spectacular spider with a large body, however, they are also a few of the rarest spiders. The exact population of this species is not known, but the Spelungula cavernicola Nelson cave spider was the first species of spider that was secured under legal protection under the New Zealand wildlife act.

Where does a Nelson cave spider live?

You cannot find a cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) in a common setting such as gardens or houses. These spiders are found in the caves of the northwestern part of New Zealand and also on New Zealand's South Island.

What is a Nelson cave spider's habitat?

It's hard to find a Spelungula cavernicola Nelson cave spider. This species is New Zealand's largest spider and can be seen in caves with large round egg sacs around them.

Who do Nelson cave spiders live with?

Much about this Spelungula cavernicola Nelson cave spider is not known because they are very rare. However, it can be assumed that these spiders live with fruit bats and worms in their caves.

How long does a Nelson cave spider live?

The Nelson cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) was introduced in 1987 and since then not much is known about this species because their living habitat is restricted to only Nelson caves. Its believed that a cavernicola Nelson cave spider can live up to four to five years in its habitat.

How do they reproduce?

Cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) spiders have a different reproductory method compared to other insects. The male ejaculates their sperms directly into the female body that is on the underside of her abdomen, known as the epigyne, as the courtship progresses. The female spider can also store sperm from different males and choose which one fits right to fertilize her egg.

What is their conservation status?

 Under New Zealand's Wildlife Act, these spiders are secured and provided safety. However, their conservative status is Data Deficient according to the IUCN Red List. This means the data presented at the current date is inadequate to determine any threat category.

Nelson Cave Spider Fun Facts

What do Nelson cave spiders look like?

This Spelungula cavernicola Nelson cave spider is New Zealand's largest cave spider with a leg span of around 5.9 in (15 cm). They are light to dark brown in color, but they can also appear black in their natural habitat. The first two pairs of legs, each have a very long claw.

This cave spider, Spelungula cavernicola, often stays clung on the cave with the help of a thread and jumps down on their prey.
We've been unable to source an image of a Nelson cave spider and have used an image of a Lynx spider instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a Nelson cave spider, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]


How cute are they?

These spiders are very cute and for people who love to pet spiders, a Spelungula cavernicola Nelson cave spider can be an adorable friend.

How do they communicate?

Spiders only communicate with their own kind and can even identify their prey. For this resident of New Zealand, their web plays an important role when it comes to communication. The vibrations which are born from the trapping of prey reveal information about this spider, its prey size, and kind. For this cave spider Spelungula cavernicola, it's also easy to identify potential males through this method.

How big is a Nelson cave spider?

This spider from New Zealand is considerably big and almost is three times in size when compared with a yellow sac spider. It can be surprisingly hard to believe but this Nelson cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) is almost three to four times bigger than a six-eyed sand spider, both in terms of leg span and body size.

How fast can a Nelson cave spider jump?

This spider from New Zealand relies heavily on its jump when it comes to catching prey. A Nelson cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) stays clung to the upper side of the cave and jumps right on its prey when it is the correct time. It can be said that these spiders are very good at jumping in their natural habitat.

How much does a Nelson cave spider weigh?

As these spiders are very rare and were introduced to the New Zealand wildlife committee and researchers in 1985, not much information about these spiders is known. However, it assumed that they weigh around 0.0017-0.0028oz (0.02-0.08 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both the males and females are addressed with the same scientific and local name.

What would you call a baby Nelson cave spider?

These spiders from New Zealand produce a single egg sac that contains several hundred eggs. Once the egg hatches, baby spiders are called spiderlings.

What do they eat?

The cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) is said to feed on cave wetas, flies, and several other small insects.

Are they poisonous?

No, they are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, some spiders can be good pets but it's very difficult to bring home a Nelson cave spider (Spelungula cavernicola) as they are very rare.

Did you know...

The bite of these New Zealand spiders is said to be very painful but there are no other effects of it.

What is the difference between a spider and a cave spider?

Its believed that cave spiders are generally smaller than regular spiders. Cave spiders are also not found in your usual surroundings such as gardens, trees, or houses like a normal spider.

What is the biggest spider in New Zealand?

The Nelson cave spider is the biggest spider in New Zealand.

 Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects from our red admiral butterfly fun facts and milkweed tussock moth interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable nelson cave spider coloring pages.

Main image by Brett Sandford 

Second image by Judy Gallagher

Written By
Kidadl Team

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