When we talk about the Maldives wildlife, most people instantly think of manta rays, turtles, and other exotic marine life, and quite rightly so. However, the chain of islands is also home to a whole range of animals on the land – and yes, there are several species of spiders in the Maldives.
The arachnid population in the Maldives shares a lot of similarities with those found 750km away in Sri Lanka and India. The white sandy beaches and coconut palms make up a tropical landscape across the Maldive islands which are perfect for exotic fauna.
Most Maldive vacations are luxurious and classy. If you are staying in the iconic bungalows suspended over the crystal clear waters, then the chances of seeing spiders in the Maldives is extremely rare because spiders aren’t typically found near water. In fact, most of these Maldives spiders tend to do a good job of hiding from us.
Latin Name: Heteropoda venatoria
The Huntsman Spider is common across the tropical region of the globe and can often be found in Sri Lanka, South America, and northern Australia, as well as the Maldives. They can be found living on trees, in crevices on rock walls, and in foliage. Keep this in mind if you are exploring the jungles across the Maldives islands.
While these spiders are swift and occasionally aggressive if provoked, they are generally not considered dangerous for humans as the venom is not deadly. A huntsman spider may bite in self-defense if roughly handled or disturbed without warning. The bite is mildly painful and can be likened to a bee sting if the spider injects its venom with nausea and headaches as the most common side effects.
These spiders are fairly easy to identify due to their sizing. On average, the body of a single spider measures between 2 – 2.5 cm (0.8 – 1 inch) long and 7 – 10 cm (3 – 4 inches) wide, including the legs. As with most spiders, the females tend to be larger than the males. Huntsmans are dark brown in color and do not have hairy bodies, but the legs have erect bristles along the length.
Latin Name: Plexippus paykulli
Jumping spiders are endemic to Southeast Asia but have spread to other parts of the globe. It is easy to miss these spiders while you are soaking up the sun on your romantic tropical getaway in the Maldives as they are super small. Typically, a jumping spider in the Maldives grows up to 12 mm (0.47 inches) in body length.
These spiders do not pose a threat to humans, especially since the species often choose to flee rather than attack. As the name suggests, these spiders jump a sizable distance to cover the ground quickly. However, if accidentally crushed or threatened, jumping spiders will bite in order to defend themselves.
Generally, jumping spiders are found in warm areas, which explains why they are commonly seen on and around houses. If you are staying in a property on stilts over the ocean, then you probably won’t see these little fellas. But if you are staying further inland on the islands then there is a possibility you may have a jumping spider checking out the view from the balcony.
Latin Name: Argiope anasuja
The orb-weaver spider is a widely distributed and harmless species found in Seychelles to India, Pakistan to Sri Lanka, and is the most commonly encountered spider in the Maldives. Another name for this species is the Signature Spider. This name is given because of the unique four unique zig-zag patterns it weaves in the center of its web – the decoration normally resembles letters, with the most common being the letter ‘X’.
This species has also has a unique coloring to its abdomen with alternating stripes of yellow, brown, and grey. Female orb-weaver spiders are significantly larger than males, measuring up to 12 mm in length while males tend to max out at 4.5 mm.
As with most spiders, this species is not dangerous to humans. They prey on insects and bugs found in the tropical flora and do their utmost best to leave the Maldives tourists alone. So there is no need to worry when visiting these beautiful tropical islands.
Latin Name: Oxyopidae
Lynx spiders are unusual in the fact they don’t make use of webs. Instead, these spiders hunt pollinating insects directly on plants (in particular flowers) using ambush, speed, and excellent vision to their advantage. As you can imagine, lynx spiders have a good natural camouflage to aid the ambush skills – colors vary from light grey and black to vivid green and orange depending on the habitat found.
They also tolerate other members of the same species, showing some form of social behavior, which is incredibly unusual for spiders. The social coexistence of these spiders even extends to communal feeding, cooperative brood care, and generational overlap within a colony.
Although lynx spiders attack prey aggressively, they rarely bite humans. That being said, females can and will bite in defense when guarding egg sacs. However, the bite is generally asymptomatic and only marginally painful, with a small amount of inflammation. Lynx spiders are considered medically harmless.
Black Widow Spider
Latin Name: Latrodectus
Although rare in the Maldives, black widow spiders are known to be found across this chain of tropical islands. These small spiders have an unusually potent venom containing a neurotoxin that is harmful to humans. A bite from a black widow can lead to some of the following symptoms:
- severe muscle pain
- abdominal cramps
- hyperhidrosis (increased sweating)
- tachycardia (increased heart rate)
- muscle spasms
Symptoms typically last between 3-7 days but can linger for weeks. Despite the myth and severe pain of a black widow bite, death and/or long-lasting side effects is extremely rare.
Black widow spiders are easily identified by the shiny jet-black body with a stark red bolt across the back. They are small spiders, generally only growing up to 10mm. These spiders live in tucked-away crevices, so as long as you don’t go poking your fingers into shady spaces, you should be safe from this spider in the Maldives.
Latin Name: Thomisidae
Crab spiders, also known as flower spiders, closely resemble crabs though they are still arachnids and avoid oceans. The similarity lies in how they hold their two front pairs of legs and the irregular ability to scuttle sideways or backward at speed. Generally, they are small and are light brown in color, however, there are variations across the different habitats.
Crab spiders are found across most of the globe, including the tropical holiday destination of the Maldives. This is another ambushing species of spider. They lie in wait for unsuspecting prey either on flower petals or in the crevices of tree trunks or under loose bark.
Again, crab spiders do have a venomous bite, however, it is not harmful to humans. Although, there is a slight relation between crab spiders and the brown recluse, which is one of the most venomous spiders in the world. So caution is always advised if you do come across this species.
Long-Bodied Cellar Spider
Latin Name: Pholcus phalangioides
Also known as Daddy Long Legs, long-bodied cellar spiders are one of the most common spiders in the world and can be discovered idly waiting for food in the corner of buildings, in dark cellars (as the name suggests), and among the trees.
As with most spider species, the females are often bigger than the males. The body length of the long-bodied cellar spider is typically around 8mm in length and then the legs can be up to six times the length, making them appear larger and more threatening to prey.
This spider is an invasive species and has been known to attack and kill native species. They even take on the widow family, so they can be useful in some scenarios. All in all, it is important to remember that these spiders are completely harmless to humans, so there is no need to panic if you see one while enjoying your vacation in the Maldives.
Wrap Up: Spiders In The Maldives
Now you know what could be lurking in the shadows on these tropical paradise islands in the heart of the Indian Ocean. But don’t get caught up in a web of fear. The chances of actually encountering spiders in the Maldives are incredibly low. Most travelers go trip after trip without ever spying on any eight-legged arthropods.
The Maldives wildlife is rich and diverse across both land and sea, and this includes several spider species that are important for the ecosystem balance. Visitors can discover the beauty of the country in every direction they look.
What is the largest spider in the Maldives?
The huntsman is the biggest spider found in the Maldives. These large spiders can grow up to the size of a dining plate and are often feared due to their size. However, if left alone and not threatened, these spiders keep themselves to themselves and cause no harm.
Are spiders common in the Maldives?
When visiting the Maldives, you are never too far away from the ocean, and typically, spiders are rarely seen near the sea. Therefore, spiders are not a common sighting in the Maldives.
Across the island interiors, you may come across unique webs made by the signature spider featuring an ‘X’ in the center. Out of the several spider species living in the Maldives, the signature spider (orb-weaver spider) is the most commonly seen.
Are there venomous spiders in the Maldives?
Many of the spiders in the Maldives are venomous, however, they are not considered harmful to humans. Most spiders avoid humans and only bite if accidentally picked up or provoked. Most spider bites in the Maldives will result in mild discomfort and possibly a headache.
However, the black widow can be found in the country and this venom contains a neurotoxin that is more potent and causes more severe side effects. If you are worried about a bite from a spider in the Maldives at all, be sure to seek medical attention from a professional.