Do Spiders Play Dead? | 3 Reasons Why

If you have a pet spider or you’re trying to find a spider in your home to get rid of it, you might notice that it occasionally looks like it’s playing dead. Spiders can play dead, and they do this to fool their predators or because they are hungry or dehydrated.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that spiders play dead.

3 Reasons Spiders Play Dead

Spiders intentionally play dead sometimes, and here are some of the reasons why:

1. Dehydration or Hunger

If spiders are starting to get dehydrated, hungry, or even stressed, they can start to play dead because of physiological reasons.

Their bodies will do this automatically when they need food, water, or to get rid of some type of stress. Once the situation is remedied, they’ll usually bounce back quickly.

Check out this video of a spider playing dead.

2. To Hide From Predators

Although spiders themselves are predators, they also have predators themselves to worry about, in which case they’ll often play dead for a little while. It’s a technique that works, and just like when they’re hungry or thirsty, spiders will immediately start to move again once the predators go away.

3. To Keep Another Spider From Leaving

At least one spider, the Nursery Web spider males, will often fake death if they believe the female is going to leave. They play dead because they think this will cause the female to stay instead of leave, and interestingly enough, it usually works!

How to Tell If Spiders Are Playing Dead

When spiders die, their legs curl up under their bodies, so if a spider remains very still and playing dead, look for these two things.

  1. Legs that are not curled up under their bodies
  2. A body or head that is hidden underneath the spider’s legs.

It’s possible that when they’re playing dead, some of their legs might be curled up under their body, but not all of them will. Sometimes, the spider will look like it’s posing naturally and isn’t as stiff as a dead spider, but they’ll be perfectly still nonetheless.

How Long Do Spiders Play Dead?

Spiders play dead for as long as they need to play dead, but generally they will not do this any longer than two hours. It usually isn’t this long because they can sense if their predators are no longer nearby and will stop playing dead at that point

 So spiders can play dead anywhere from several minutes to a full two hours before coming back to “life” once again.

Do Common House Spiders Play Dead?

Common house spiders play dead for the same reasons mentioned earlier. There are numerous types of spiders that play dead when they feel they are being threatened somehow or they’re hungry or thirsty.

While it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the spider being dead or simply playing dead, there are a few ways you can know for sure.

Are Spiders Dead if They Curl Up?

When spiders die, their legs curl up underneath their body. Their legs curl both upwards and underneath the body. They will put their weight on their joints and not on their toe pads, and they may look much drier than living spiders and look like they’re falling apart.

The main thing to look for is their legs curling up and under their body, as opposed to looking like they’re simply spreading their body out and in a very relaxed position.

Which Spider Species Pretends to Be Dead?

There are numerous types of spiders that pretend to be dead for one or more reasons. Here are a few of them:

1. Southern House Spiders

Southern house spiders are roughly two inches long, and the males have a unique violin shape. They tend to play dead for mating purposes or because they feel threatened.

2. Wolf Spiders

These hairy spiders participate in a cannibalistic ritual after mating, when the females eat the males after the mating process is complete. Males often play dead to lure in the females.

3. Black Widow Spiders

These spiders sometimes play dead when they feel threatened, and even though they aren’t as aggressive as many people think, they are still deadly.

How Do You Know if a Spider Is Dying?

If you have a pet spider that is dying, it will display one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. Their legs start curling upward.
  2. Their abdomen is shriveled up.
  3. They suddenly stop eating and drinking.
  4. They start getting weak and are unable to support their body weight.

There are sometimes things you can do at this point to “save” the spider, but they don’t always work. But at least you know now what to look for if you think your spider is dying.

Will Killing a Spider Attract More of Them?

There is no evidence that killing a spider or two will attract more of them. This is thought to be because unlike bees, spiders don’t tend to be as family-oriented.

Spiders are very individualistic and prefer to concentrate on their own needs instead of the needs of other spiders. In general, you don’t have to worry about attracting more spiders just because you kill a spider in your home.


All types of spiders play dead, usually because they are thirsty, hungry, or stressed, and the stress usually comes from feeling threatened by something. When they play dead, their legs will not curl under their bodies and they’ll have more of a “natural” pose.