Walking back from town last week, I came across this little fellow, sunning himself on the parapet of Gote Bridge. It's a Zebra Spider, one of the Jumping Spiders from the family Salticidae. It's pretty well camouflaged and I wouldn't have spotted him if he hadn't moved.
They make short, jerking runs when stalking prey, remaining absolutely motionless between runs, like someone playing grandmother's footsteps. Then, when they are in position, they pounce with amazing rapidity, and they're not afraid to take on prey much bigger than themselves.
They are easy to recognise, not just from their behaviour, but also from their eye pattern. They have two very prominent, forward facing eyes, front centre and two, fairly prominent, side facing eyes in the same plane. They also have two more pairs of eyes; one pair above and one pair below. This allows them to make their jumps with pinpoint accuracy.
It is a big family, with about 6,000 described species and distributed pretty well world wide. You can't deny, they have a certain cute charm about them and many people keep them as pets. I always let them have the run of the house out in Crete as a biological control against the small biting insects that managed to evade the mosquito nets. If you fancy keeping them yourself here are a few items that may be of use. Click on the pictures for more information.
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