California Trail Runner Stumbles Upon Tarantula Devouring Rattlesnake

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images)

A runner came upon a shocking and very rare scene recently while jogging in the San Marcos Preserve area near Santa Barbara California. It’s a sad story if you’re a snake lover…but a happy story if you’re a spider lover. Either way, however, it’s a story showing how the circle of life is always in motion as a tarantula devours a rattlesnake right on the trail.

The Tarantula Is Getting Two For The Price Of One It Seems

According to the jogger, Jason Tapia, he stumbled on the rare sight while out for a run. And, it looks like the snake was already full from its own meal when the tarantula came along.

“It looks like the snake had just eaten a big meal,” Jason Tapia says of the rare sight. Tapia adds that the rattler didn’t look to be sized too big.

“The rattler was about a foot or less,” he notes of the snake.

Snakes Don’t Often Become Tarantula Prey…However, It’s Been Known To Happen

A recent article in National Geographic reports the first recorded instance of a tarantula devouring a snake in the wild as a snack occurred in 2015. This sighting, the article notes, occurred in Brazil as a graduate student happened upon the rare sight.

While this may be the first recorded sighting, however, scientists are quick to note that they have long known that the serpents can fall prey to the venomous spiders. A Brazillian researcher, Vital Brazil found in 1926 that captive tarantulas would occasionally snack on snakes. Also, these spiders are well known to eat pretty much anything they are able to overpower. From mice to frogs, lizards…and of from what we’ve seen, snakes.

Tarantulas Aren’t The Only Spiders To Enjoy This Particular Treat

In 2021, researchers learned that spiders eating snakes is a common occurrence. However, the most common snake eaters are not the tarantula. Instead, it’s the black widow spider that really enjoys munching on snakes. The study also notes that these occurrences don’t happen in tropical areas like most people would assume. Instead, they happen most often across North America. In many of the instances where tarantulas eat the snake, researchers note that the tarantulas like to build webs extending all the way to the ground. These then trap the unsuspecting serpents as they slither by. Once captured, the snake is paralyzed by the spider’s venomous bite before becoming the arachnid’s supper.