Do Spiders Have Teeth? (Solved!)


Does your spider have teeth? The short answer is no, they don’t, and that applies to any species of spider out there.

Spiders do not have teeth. They have fangs which act like pincers. They use these fangs to clamp down on prey, and some spiders use them to inject venom. These fangs are curved, and they are hollow.

So, in short, they don’t have teeth. But then how do they manage to eat? We all know how important our teeth are to us, so how would a spider cope without them? Well, read on in order to find out a whole lot more about this rather interesting topic.

You see, we are guilty of thinking about teeth in a specific way. That’s our problem, as the spider doesn’t care about the fact that it’s toothless.

Brown hairy tarantula

Spiders Do Not Have Teeth, They Have Fangs

Spiders do not have teeth in the sense that we tend to think. However, they can still crush down on their prey in order to help themselves to get some food.

What your spider does have are fangs, and some people will refer to them as teeth, but that’s more a case of trying to give your spider some humanized touches that makes it easier for us to understand more about them.

These fangs are very powerful for their size. They are also called ‘chelicere’, and they can come in two different forms.

These forms will vary depending on the actual species of spider, but the most important thing for the spider is that they do generally perform the same actions.

First, they can be shaped like fangs, well sort of, and they can come down and clamp onto prey. The other form is more like a pair of pincers, with some spiders using them to grab their prey before they then go ahead and inject them with some kind of venom.

Oh, you may also see these fangs, or pincers, being referred to as jaws in some literature. No matter which term is being used, they all refer to the exact same thing, so don’t worry about that.

More recently, we have discovered that their fangs are also curved. This makes it easier for them to hold their prey long enough for the venom to be injected.

It seems that their fangs are a well-honed killing tool. This curving of the fangs forms part of the way in which spiders have evolved. Their fangs are the perfect tool for catching prey, and they will find it impossible to then escape.

Saying your spider has fangs does add to the scary thoughts that people tend to have about these creatures. They sound horrific, but there’s something about them that will make them even scarier than you ever thought possible.

A Spider’s Fangs are Hollow

You should also know that these fangs are hollow inside, which is amazing when you then realize that there is so much power behind them.

However, there’s a good reason as to why this is the case. After all, nature wouldn’t give the spider hollow fangs unless there was some specific use in store.

They are hollow because they are connected to their venom glands.

The venom has to come from somewhere and to then be injected into prey, and this is how your spider is going to achieve that. When your spider grabs onto its prey with the fangs, it then sends venom down from the venom glands, through the teeth, and injects it into the prey. [Source]

It’s a highly effective killing tool, and it’s one that has allowed them to survive for millions of years.

The fangs are still made from protein, and our teeth also contain a lot of protein in the form of collagen, and even though they are hollow, they are still exceptionally strong.

Also, the length of the fangs will vary depending on the species of spider. However, they will always be in line with the overall size of the spider, so don’t expect to see anything that is bizarre or strange when it comes to the dimensions.

As an example of size. If a spider is, for example, 25 mm in length, then their fangs will also tend to be in the region of 2 mm. That’s not a set rule, but it does give some indication of how the length of their fangs are related to the length of their entire body.

Close up of tarantula face

But How Do Spiders Chew?

This is a common question that people ask when they discover that a spider doesn’t have teeth, but don’t worry as your spider has it all thought out. They have never had teeth, so evolution has taught them how to deal with that in order to still be able to ingest food.

Remember the venom that we mentioned earlier that comes through the fangs? Well, that’s the key in all of this.

The venom not only kills the prey, but it also contains chemicals and enzymes that do something else.

Basically, it starts to liquidize the food, and that’s going to make it easier for your spider to devour it.

What that means is that your spider can then go and suck up their food rather than chew on it. They then allow their digestive system to do the rest and break down the food.

Basically, they end up with some sort of liquidized mince, and even though that sounds disgusting, it’s something your spider is going to love. [Source]

So, as you can see, they don’t need teeth for that purpose. They have something even better, and it’s far more efficient than spending all that energy on chewing away at something.

Remember, your spider has been eating like this since they were created, so it’s a finely tuned approach.

But Won’t Spiders’ Jaws Do Some Chewing?

Some people also wonder if the jaws of your spider will do some chewing, and to a certain extent they do, but you must remember that they are external and not internal like teeth.

For some species of spider, their jaws help to mush things up, but it’s after the venom has killed the prey and started to dissolve it.

Also, some spiders will basically vomit some of their digestive juices over their prey to aid the process even more. It really is a pretty horrible process when you think about it.

Their jaws will then help break things down into smaller mushy pieces. It does then make it easier for them to get what they need out of the prey, as you need to consider the size of the mouth of the spider and the size of some of their prey that you see caught in a web.

It wouldn’t make sense for them to go ahead and consume the entire thing.

How Do Spiders Suck The Food In?

We use our teeth to also move food around our mouth, which then makes it easier for us to swallow stuff. So, as spiders do not have teeth, how do they manage to get the food into their mouth?

The sucking motion basically comes from their stomach.

They effectively power up their stomach to create a sensation that is almost like a vacuum cleaner which then pulls the food into their mouth and down into their stomach.

It’s an approach that works exceptionally well.

But What About Bite Marks From Spiders On Humans?

Let’s quickly address the issue of bite marks appearing on us humans from a spider. People then make the mistake of thinking that some teeth were involved, and that’s simply because of how we link teeth to bites.

Of course, as we have already seen, that’s not going to be possible from your spider, as they don’t have them.

Instead, if you did see a bite from a spider, then what you have are two puncture wounds caused by the fangs.

That’s why it’s always going to be two marks.

However, keep in mind that their fangs are generally not powerful enough to puncture our skin. Even the spider knows that type of information, and they will then seek to avoid those kinds of confrontations unless they feel that there’s no other option left.

Losing Their Fangs Is Not Good For spiders

If we lose some of our teeth, then it’s not the end of the world. However, the same cannot be said for your spider if they somehow end up losing their fangs.

Not only will they be unable to clamp down on any prey, but they will also lose access to their venom, so they would find it impossible to kill their prey in the first place.

Thankfully for the spider, it would be very rare for them to lose their fangs. It seems that evolution has helped with this to make sure that your spider can indeed survive, or they would starve to death in next to no time.

But then, nature also understands that things can happen when a spider could lose its fangs, so some species have a rather neat trick.

You may be aware that a crocodile will grow back its teeth throughout its life. Well, some spiders are capable of doing that with their fangs. However, it must be under certain circumstances before that even becomes possible for them.

How A Spider Can Regrow Their Fangs

This isn’t something that a spider can do throughout its life. Instead, it’s only at specific times.

The spider doesn’t have a skeleton like we do. They have an exoskeleton, and they must molt in order to grow. A spider will do this on several occasions before they enter adulthood, and this is where timing is important.

If a young spider loses its fangs before it enters adulthood, it can then grow them back.

It’s all to do with this final molt, so as long as it happens before that, then the spider could survive by the simple fact that their body is going to replace the lost fangs with new ones.

In fact, it will come back like a stump in the same spot as the old fang, and that is something that’s going to become very functional in a short space of time.

However, if they lose their fangs as adults, then there’s no chance of them being able to grow back.

At that point, it’s the end for the spider. If that happens to your adult spider, then it would be best to euthanize them instead of allowing them to suffer for any prolonged period of time.

So, your spider does not have teeth, but it doesn’t allow that simple fact to stop it in its tracks.

Instead, it is able to eat and live a happy life thanks to other ways and means that are even better at breaking up food and allowing them to get the nutrients they need in order to live.

To be honest, their fangs or jaws work even better than most people realize, and as spiders have been around for millions of years, then it’s clear that not having teeth is something that has not hampered them in the slightest.

Don’t worry that your spider doesn’t have teeth. It’s not bothering them, and they manage to survive with ease. Also, keep in mind the point we made about them losing a fang.

As long as they are young, then it won’t affect their ability to survive. Instead, keep on feeding your pet spider with their favorite insects and sit back to watch how amazing your spider is at dealing with their prey.

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

Recent Posts