If you are an avid netizen like me, you might have come across a photograph of a spider, well not entirely a spider, with a head shape similar to that of a German Shepherd.
Yes, as bizarre as it sounds, this half dog- half spider-like creature exists and they are capable of melting even an arachnophobic heart.
Interestingly enough, these unusual creatures, seem to have crawled right out of an infant’s fairytale book and have allegedly been loitering around the Earth for about 400 million years, that is even before the existence of dinosaurs, and thankfully, are not extinct yet.
Where do bunny harvestman Live?
Native to the Amazonian forests of Ecuador, Bunny Harvestmen were discovered by Carl Friedrich Roewer, a German arachnologist back in 1959 and first photographed by Andreas Kay in 2017.
The Bunny Harvestmen are surprisingly not actually spiders, but they belong to the order scientifically known as Opiliones and are commonly known as Harvestmen or Daddy Longlegs, signifying their spindly stick-like leg frames.
They usually reside in humid places, on leaves, under stones and barks of trees. They are named “Harvestmen” keeping in mind their emergence in late summer and early autumn, during harvest season.
Their appearance also reminded scientists of European shepherds, who walked on slits to tame their flock.
The Bunny Harvestmen have a small oval-shaped abdomen, claiming most of its body space and eight long legs emerging out of its torso.
The main characteristic which makes these critters famous is their bunny-shaped head. Protruding out of the body, they have two structures, similar to that of rabbit ears and neon spots, conveniently placed below the batons, giving a total illusion of a rabbit’s or a dog’s head.
However, their real eyes are way below, camouflaged with their body.
Benefits Of A Bunny Head
Having a bunny head is surely favourable for daddy longlegs. Firstly it makes them an internet sensation, but that is beside the point.
The real benefit of having a shaft protruding out of your body will be to scare away predators, such as spiders, scorpions, amphibians, lizards, and birds making you seem way larger than what you actually are.
Distinguishing Between A Bunny Harvestman And A Spider
Since harvestmen are not spiders, let us look at the characteristics which make them Opiliones.
- Spiders belong to the order of Araneae whereas Harvestmen belong to the order of Opiliones, which scientifically makes them cousins. Harvestmen do not possess any venomous glands or fangs, which literally makes them a friendly neighbourhood spider to humans in contrast to spiders.
- The body of a spider has two distinct sections, often very different from each other and quite noticeable. Harvestmen also have two different sections for a body , but it appears to be just one section.
- A spider usually has three to four pairs of eyes, in front of their torso whereas their counterparts have only one pair of eyes, on top of their torso.
- Opiliones are known for their extremely long and flimsy legs spread at a great distance from their main body. Spiders usually have short and thick legs in close proximity to their body.
- Harvestmen, unlike spiders do not have the capacities to make silk webs
- Spiders can not directly consume their prey in solid form like harvestmen, they secrete digestive liquids to melt their prey and later consume them.
Being the size of a human thumb can be a disadvantage for surviving in a treacherous environment. But, The bunnies have various tricks up their sleeves to defend themselves when faced with danger.
They have pores located at the base of their front legs that releases a foul odour. This odour protects them from hungry predators.
They also practice autotomy, a method by which they detach one leg from their body to confuse the beast of prey. On a sad note, their legs do not regenerate. Maybe it is a last resort for an attempt to not be snacked on.
Another method of protection is to freeze in place and camouflage with the environment. This tricks their feeders to believe to see right past them.
What is it like to be a Bunny Harvestmen?
Little Bunnies are omnivorous. They eat plants and insects and occasionally snails. They are nocturnal creatures who get dehydrated easily so they often hunt for water and rest a lot to conserve energy.
They sense and scan their environment for maneuvering and predicting danger through special sense organs located on their front legs or through the myriad of tiny hairs on their legs.
They sometimes cluster in large groups by interlocking their legs together to generate warmth and suitable humidity by depending on each other’s body heat. What an adorable way to host a get together!
Another advantage of forming a cluster, is the significant increase in the intensity of the foul odour produced by them which keeps predators at bay.
Bunny Harvestmen Spiders are a classic example of the marvellous creatures that the Amazon forest boasts. Being so intricately designed, we can only be awestruck at these stunning creations.