A Spider (also known in various parts of the continent as "Spinner", "Cob" or "Weaveweft") is a small, eight-legged creature that can spin silk. Most Spiders are known for the beautiful and intricate silk webs they spin in grasses and in the corners of old houses. Though most species of Spider have poison, few have poison potent enough to take out an elf or a human, or even a Brownie. Still, Spiders remain creatures of nightmare and fear, despite that their ingestion of many harmful insects keep the population of such pests to a minimum.
Image description: A Cave Spider hanging from a cave's ceiling. Picture drawn by Faugar.
Appearance. Spiders come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They may be short and fat, long and thin, round, oblong, or flat. Spiders can be as large as 5 peds across or as small as a needlepoint. Some Spiders have long, thin legs while others have short, stubby ones. Spiders are most commonly found in brown, gray, and black, but can be painted in vivid colors, in intricate designs. Spiders have no bones, though, regardless of species. Itís tough skin, often covered in hairs, humps, and spines, serves as a protective outer skeleton. A spider has two main body sections: an abdomen, or rounded belly, and a "torsed", which consists of its head and chest fused into one armoured unit. The abdomen and torsed are connected by a narrow but strong waist.
A Spiderís eyes are on the top of its head, near the front. The number of eyes, the size of them, and their location on the Spiderís head is determined by species. Some Spiders have six eyes, whilst others may have four or five. Some Spiders have two large eyes and several small eyes, while some have all different sizes. Some species that live deep in caves or other dark places have no eyes at all.
A Spiderís mouth is located below its eyes and is equipped with several appendages to help it catch and obtain food. The area around a Spider's mouth contains many strange projections and protrusions, to which researchers have given unique names. For example, the most noticable are the "biteblades", which look like small, six-segmented legs springing directly from the head. One biteblade is located on each side of the Spider's mouth, and has six segments. In many Spider species, the segment closest to the Spiderís body bears a sharp plate with jagged edges that are used to cut and crush food. In male Spiders, the last segment of the biteblade bears the reproductive organ.
Another strange pair of protrusions are the handfangs, located just below the biteblades and the eyes. These appendages are used to seize and kill prey. Each of the two handfangs end in a hard, hollow, pointed claw, which are the fangs of the Spider. The fangs excrete a poison that is used to either wound, paralyze, or kill the Spiderís victims. The fangs of the Spiders appear different depending on the species. For most Spiders, the fangs turn lightly inwards, crossing each other, but some of the large species have fangs pointing backwards. The handfangs are also used for crushing prey and, in some cases, for digging burrows in the ground to make nests.
Just inside the biteblades is one more set of tiny projections, which resemble miniature black fingers. They seem to function as tongues, helping to wave and press the Spider's prey into its serrated mouth. They have been variously named "doubletongues", "gredhands", or "soft fangs" by researchers, the first being the most common.
The double set of raised bumps on the Spider's head just above its eyes seem to have no function other than protecting the gleaming orbs and are usually simply referred to as "brows".
A Spider has four pairs of legs attached to the torsed. Each leg has seven segments, regardless of species or gender. In most species, the last segment has two or there claws at the tip, surrounded by a pad or hairs that help the Spider cling to ceilings, walls, or other surfaces.
Spiders are known for web building. In order to create webs, it uses spinnerets: short, finger-like organs with which the Spider is able to spin silk. The spinnerets are located on the rear of the abdomen. Most kinds of Spiders have six of these silk-producers, while others may only have three or two.
Special Abilities. Spiders have the unique ability to be able to spin beautiful webs out of silk that they produce through their spinnerets. Webs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the most simplistic the other most intricate and complex. Some Spiders will take up residence in a field in the tall grass or under rocks or logs and create a web with a funnel at the end where the Spider may wait for its prey. Others may intricate webs that have something like a platform in the center of the web. Others create webs shaped like bowls, hanging like delicate nets to catch the rain, while others appear as domes as though of some silver church. Some create simple webs shaped simply like triangles, while others create orb-webs, or webs in which threads of silk extending from a middle point are covered in a spiral of a different threads. Orb threads are the most known.
Territory. Spiders can be found all around the world, on every continent and in every kind of habitat. They live underground, under rocks and logs. They live up in trees in the branches. Their delicate mithril-colored webs shimmer in every field and plain in Caelereth. They live in barns and in houses, weaving webs in the corners of the rooms and windows. They make homes on flowers and in bushes. Some spiders even live in or under the water.
Habitat/Behaviour. The behavior of the Spider really depends on the species. They are usually rather timid around larger creature such as humans, elves, and orcs, but can sometimes be very ferocious when it comes to obtaining and eating prey. They do not commonly fight with creatures larger than they are unless they are cornered and have no other defense. Spiders of the same or even different species will sometimes quarrel over territory or space. Spiders are not typically social animals and do not live in groups commonly. In fact, even in mating, Spiders may be a bit aggressive. In some species, mating include the ingestion of the male by the female. Spiders hunt at all times of the day.
Diet. Spiders will eat almost anything that finds its way into its net or, in some cases, its territory. Most Spiders build webs to watch prey. Their webs are both strong and sticky, and when the insects they find delicious get caught in the silvery threads, the Spider may wrap it up in thread and drink its bodily fluids. However, not all Spiders make webs. Some other Spiders gain food by lying in wait for its food to walk past. When something comes along, the Spider ambushes it, grabbing it and either wounding, paralyzing, or killing it in order to make a meal out of it. Some other Spiders jump for their prey. The techniques of Spiders to gain food are endless. However, insects such as flies, butterflies, moths, etc. makes some of the best meals. Some larger breeds of Spiders may also eat mice, birds, lizards, frogs, and fish. The Giant Spiders live off of blood and flesh.
Mating. The male Spider seeks a mate as soon as it reaches maturity. However, This in itself can be a fairly dangerous process, as sometimes the female Spider mistakes them for prey and eats them. To help avoid this from happening, male Spiders perform courtship dances to help the female identify them as a potential mating partner. Some species of male Spiders will vibrate the threads of the female Spiders. Others will lift their abdomen in the air and sways it from side to side, while some species of Spiders will wave their front legs in the hair. Before mating, the male Spiders spin a platform and deposit a drop of their sperm on to it, then fill their biteblades with sperm that can be given to the female if she accepts the offer. After mating, the female will sometimes eat the male. The female doesnít use the sperm right away, but rather uses it to fertilize her eggs after she lays them.
The number of eggs a Spider lays at one time varies with the size of the animal. An average-sized female Spider lays about 100 eggs, though some of the largest Spiders may lay up to 2,000 eggs at one time. Some cave-dwelling Spiders will only lay one, massive egg at a time. Most species enclose their eggs in a silken egg sac. The shape and size depends upon the species. Some species that lay several batches of eggs may enclose them in many different sacs before connecting all the sacs together. Others make ornament-like sacs that dangle elegantly, while others make their egg sac into a bowl-shape. Some Spiders never even string their sacs up, but rather carry their sac protectively around with them. It is believed by some researchers that the silk with which the egg sacs are made may differ from the kind used to build webs. Often times the thread is stronger and sometimes may be of a different color.
Baby spiders, called spiderlings, hatch within their egg sac anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on species. If their eggs hatch in winter, the young Spiders will remain in their egg sacs until the warm weather arrives before breaking out of the egg sac. After hatching out of their egg sac, young Spiders often travel to other areas where they will live. To do this, they climb onto a high fence post or barn and tilt their spinnerets into the air. The moving air pulls silk from the spinnerets and the wind, catching these threads of silk, called draglines, carries the spiderlings into the air and they most literally float through the air. A spiderling can travel great distances using this method, and sailors nearly 9 furlays away have reported seeing little spiders floating through the air.
Spiderlings will molt several times while growing, replacing skin that has grown too tight with a new, larger kind. Most kinds of Spider molt from five to nine times before they reach adulthood. Some larger breeds may molt more than 20 times, but smaller Spiders only molt a few. Most species of Spiders live about a year, though some of the larger breeds can live far longer.
Usages. Spiders are extremely helpful to man, though most seem to abhor them. Spiders eat harmful insects that can destroy crops, as well as flies, which can carry harmful or even fatal diseases. Without Spiders, many researchers believe that insects would propagate considerably and end up being a great threat to all.
Researchers. The Spider has, in its time, has many researchers. One of the oldest was a human named Albert Renay (1101-1159). He was the first known researcher who began to actively observe and record data of Spiders, noticing their physical characteristics and doing a number of dissections in which he helped shed more light on both the outer and inner characteristics of Spiders. His records are made mostly of diagrams and pictures, some of which are still used today in schools and libraries.
One of the most knowledgeable Spider researchers came during the Age of Discoveries. Merglen Anzeron (1279-1475), a Daran gnome who grew up among Eyelians and made their land his home. He grew up continually fascinated by Spiders and their ways and movements, and sought out knowledge from them. At a young age he went out exploring the world of Caelereth and researches every species of Spider he came across, as well as capturing specimens, which he later brought home. His house became a Spider menagerie, cages everywhere. It is believed that, during the end of his life, he became mad as he separated himself from the outside world, dealing only with his Spiders and noting their every movement. After his death, his Spiders died, but his nephew collected all of his researchers and published it in a book called ďSpiders of Santharia.Ē
Myth/Lore. Spiders have, in many human and Brownie cultures and religions, been a symbol of fear and nightmarish hauntings. Their almost alien appearance makes them seem strange and frightening to many, despite the fact that most Spiders are completely harmless. Bone-chilling tales of Giant Spiders grabbing small, unsuspecting children and eating them up has engendered and encouraged this way of thinking. Spiders can also symbolize age and the passage of time, sometimes the process of growing older and fading into darkness due to the haunting webs they spin in the corners of old buildings. Some humans think of she who is now known as the Bone Queen when they think of Spiders, as many books and pictures portray her in an old room filled with Spiders.
Many elves and some humans, however, believe the Spider is a spiritually sensitive creature and believe they are able to interpret moods and sense if a room or house is filled with positive energy. It is believed that Spiders occupy only houses where spiritually content people live or used to live, and that if a quarrel or argument negates the energy of the house or the area that they will quickly leave. It is also believed that if Spiders take up residence in a barn, then the animals inside the barn are content. Many of these humans and elves also recognize the good of Spiders in keeping disease-carrying insects at a minimum.
The fact that Spiders make webs creates another interesting parallel. Some weavers have made the Spider their symbol, for just as the Spider weaves pieces of silk, so do weavers weave the fabric of the Dream.
The number of Spiders in one's house can have different meanings. Some poems telling of these meanings are as follows.
"A cobweb frayed is a sorry thing,
Overview. A short list of all known Spider species can be found below:
CAVE SPIDER, THE
CRYSTAL SPIDER, THE
DRAPE-SILK SPIDER, THE
GIANT SPIDER, THE
WOOLLY COB, THE