My neighbor with a few chickens as pets came running to me one day “my chicken ate a spider”. She was worried as it might be poisonous for the birds and that they might even suffer a toxic shock.
Seeing her worried, I decided to accompany her to the nearest veterinarian’s office. But when I spoke to the veterinarian, I was surprised to learn that we were unnecessarily worried and chickens can eat spiders.
After hearing this, we decided to learn more about chicken eating habits, so we asked her a few questions. But first, here is a quick summary about chickens eating spiders.
Spiders are no match for those sharp beaks. Chickens will eat anything and even though these birds don’t have teeth, they’ll just gobble up their prey whole. Chickens have a strong sense of smell which helps them detect prey and the ones living in urban areas can help reduce the insect populations.
What happens if a chicken eats a spider?
It is common for chickens to eat different types of insects and worms. You often find chickens pecking on the ground for grubs, worms, and insects.
When it comes to arachnids, the usual fear is that most spiders are venomous, and eating these can cause a chicken to go into toxic shock. However, in reality, spiders are utterly edible for chicken.
So, if you see a chicken with a spider in its beak, you should not panic as it will not cause the bird any digestive distress or result in toxic shock.
Do chickens eat spiders when there is a lack of alternative food sources?
There is no record of chickens looking for spiders when they do not find suitable food sources. Chickens are excellent foragers and will eat insects, vegetables, and seeds.
Hence, the chances of alternative food sources becoming scarce is minimal. Moreover, they are not picky eaters.
Chickens are not known to distinguish between spiders and other insects or food sources.
Can chickens prove to help reduce spider infestations?
Poultry farmers often mention that hens can prove to be quite helpful in reducing the number of spiders on the farm and on the grounds.
In the case of free-range chickens, the birds have the freedom to move around the farm and hunt for insects.
When they do so, they hunt and kill spiders, which can help reduce the number of spiders on a farm.
Similarly, if you have a hen coop in your backyard or even if you keep chickens as pets, you will find that these can help reduce the number of spiders coming into your house.
Therefore, chickens can prove to help reduce spider infestations.
Can chickens eat dangerous spiders like a black widow?
Chickens can be an excellent way of getting rid of a black widow infestation. These spiders can be pretty dangerous as they are venomous.
But these spiders are harmless when it comes to chickens. ‘
The most prominent black widow is about 1.5 inches in size, and these arachnids are no match for the sharp beak of chickens.
Moreover, their venom does not harm chickens; hence, they can easily hunt and watch black widow spiders.
Do chickens get ill after consuming venomous spiders like black widows?
This might seem intriguing because we know that the black widow’s venom can be fatal for several birds and insects.
But in the case of chickens, it does not work similarly because the bird will first kill the spider before consuming it.
The black widow’s venom is dangerous; only uses its fangs to deliver it.
But in the case of chickens, the bird catches the spider in its beak, kills it, and then consumes the arachnid.
Hence, irrespective of the lethal nature of the spider’s venom, it is not transferred into the bloodstream of the chicken, and it does not cause any harm.
If not black widow, are there any species of spiders that are dangerous to chickens?
Certain species of spiders can prove to be harmful to chickens. For example, the Red Widow Spider, Hobo Spider, Funnel Web Grass Spider, Brown Widow Spider, and the Wolf Spider can prove slightly dangerous to chickens.
However, these spiders are primarily found in warmer and heavily wooded climates.
Generally, you will find less dangerous spiders in places where poultry farming is done. Hence, the chances of dangerous spiders being around chickens are minimal.
How many spiders can chickens eat?
In the wild, chickens primarily survive on insects, and spiders feature in their regular diet. But there is no particular number of spiders that chickens eat in a day.
However, if you think of free-range chickens, these birds eat different insects, including spiders.
Moreover, chickens are intelligent birds and eat different insects to meet their nutritional requirement.
Therefore, you will find that, on average, free-range chickens do not eat more than two to three spiders in a day.
But scientists also argue that it is primarily because alternative food sources are available even for free-range chickens.
Hence, in the wild, chickens can eat more spiders in a day compared to those grown on farms.
Can spiders prove to be healthy for chickens?
Regarding poultry chicken, you can be assured that consuming a few spiders will not harm the birds.
Instead, it will provide them with the nutrients that they need to develop a healthy immune system.
In the wild too, chickens consume spiders, which helps them meet their nutritional requirements.