Rare tarantula babies 'pop out of earth' in world first

Rare tarantula babies 'pop out of earth' in world first

Having hundreds of tiny tarantulas popping out of the ground may leave some people squeamish, but it is exciting experts who have witnessed a world-first in a species of which little is known.

Chester Zoo is celebrating the birth of a clutch of around 200 Montserrat tarantula spiderlings, and while they don't know it, they're about to fill a major gap in knowledge about the mysterious species.

Rare tarantula babies 'pop out of earth' in world first

(Chester Zoo / Supplied)

The zoo has become the first to breed the tarantulas, which have not been seen in captivity or the wild before.

Dr Gerardo Garcia, curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at Chester Zoo, says getting to this point took a lot of patience and care.

The zoo had been collecting data on the adult pair since they arrived three years ago.

"Hopefully these tiny tarantulas will uncover more secrets about the behaviour, reproduction and lifecycle of the species.

Rare tarantula babies 'pop out of earth' in world first

(Chester Zoo / Supplied)

"We know that males have a very short lifespan when compared with females, and gauging their sexual maturity to select the best possible time to put them together for mating is vital to the breeding process."

Dr Garcia says it was an anxious wait after three pregnant females burrowed underground.

"They don't feed; they don't show up. We don't know what's going on. You just have to leave it for several months and see what happens.

"Then eventually ... spiders started popping out of the earth like crazy. From one single burrow, one female, we had about 200 tarantulas - tiny spiderlings," he told the BBC.

The spiders, native to the Caribbean island of Montserrat, were first described scientifically based on a male more than 100 years ago.

Newshub.