Spiders can regrow legs if they lose them when molting, fighting, or mating mishaps. After losing the leg, the spider will be able to regrow legs that are smaller and thinner but will replace the lost legs adequately.
Spiders have eight legs and (because they don’t have bones) they actually use hydraulic pressure to extend the legs. With this hydraulic pressure, spiders are able to jump several times their height and move quickly and in several directions.
Because they have eight legs, spiders will still be able to survive comfortably even after losing a leg or two. They often lose their limbs when molting or mating, but also during fights with other spiders. Luckily for them, they’re able to regrow their legs and replace them adequately.
Can Spiders Regrow Legs?
Yes, spiders have the capability of regrowing their legs after losing them.
Young spiders, especially, are capable of regrowing their legs as they’re still evolving and they molt more frequently as more adult spiders do.
With molting, new legs will start to grow where the legs were once in place. These legs will be smaller than their normal legs, and they will replace most of the functions of the leg that was there in place.
These legs that have regrown will play the same roles as the legs they’ve replaced. They’ll allow the spider to move around and even jump, but these functions will not be as well-executed as they would be if the spider had all its legs.
Spiders are one of the many species in the world that are able to regrow their legs – some other animals that are able to do this include lizard, deer, axolotls, and starfish.
How Do Spiders Regrow Legs?
Spiders regrow their legs by molting, which is when their exoskeletons will start to peel off and their bodies will regenerate their exoskeleton, allowing them to grow.
When spiders molt, they are adapting their exoskeleton for their growth. This means that as spiders grow, they will need larger and larger exoskeletons. Once the spider is fully grown, the molting will be done less frequently.
Younger spiders molt more frequently and thus have a better capability to regrow legs than older spiders do. Young spiders will molt several times a year, while senior spiders will only molt once or twice a year at most.
The legs that will regrow in the place of the lost legs will be much smaller than the original legs. It will take some time for the leg to regrow, as the process can take anywhere from several days to weeks and months, depending on the size of the spider, its age, and the species of the spider.
Why Do Spiders Lose their Legs and Regrow Them?
Spiders might lose their legs for many different reasons, but the main reasons include molting, mating, and fighting.
The main reasons for spiders losing their legs include:
- Molting – a spider’s legs might be vulnerable when they molt because their exoskeletons will be coming off their bodies. This might happen spontaneously or it might happen on purpose since the spider will have to lose its leg for the molting to be completed naturally.
- Mating – some accidents when mating might happen, and the spider might lose one of its legs if the mating is especially vigorous.
- Fights – spiders can fight against other spiders, and that’s when they might happen to lose their legs. Also, they might lose one of their legs if they are caught in an accident when confronting or catching other animals.
- Other circumstances – the spider will lose its legs due to various circumstances – the most common one includes accidents because of humans, mishaps, and sometimes even sticky traps that people place to catch spiders.
The spider will regrow its leg to gain function of the lost leg or at least replace the leg adequately. At first, the replacement leg will not be as effective as the lost leg, but it will grow larger and more effective over time.
Can Spiders Survive without a Leg?
Spiders can still survive without a leg or even several legs, but some of their key functions will be impacted and might regress after losing the leg.
According to a study done by Wrinn and Uetz in 2007, spiders will lose the ability to forage as effectively as before, while also impacting the growth and the development time of the spider.
They studied what happened to spiders after autotomy (self-amputation), which happens when a spider amputates its leg to survive a stressful event such as a fight. It’s a coping and survival mechanism that several species in the wild use, but spiders use this mechanism in particular when in danger.
The results of the study found that when a spider lost its leg, several of its functions were impaired, which diminished the quality of the living standard for the spider. The study also found that the more legs the spider lost, the bigger the implications on its body and the functions will be.
Some of the main deficiencies after losing a leg include:
- Diminished foraging abilities – a spider without a leg or several legs will not be able to get as much food and as quickly as before. That’s why it will often lose access to food, which can result in a worse quality of life, and loss to competitor spiders that are looking for the same types of food.
- Less growth – the study from 2007 found that spiders without a leg or several legs were smaller and did not grow as well as the spiders with all legs intact. This is highly likely because of their inability to forage as effectively as before.
- Slower development time – the development time of the younger spiders was also longer.
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Spiders are one of the few species in nature that are capable of regrowing their legs. When they molt, they will replace their lost legs and grow smaller legs, which will replace some of the functions of the leg they have lost.
While the replacement legs might not be as effective as the lost legs at first, they’re still adequate at replacing some of the functions of the lost legs to a degree.
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