Spitting Donkey Spiders Species in Enthion | World Anvil
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Spitting Donkey Spiders

Though the name is strange, the spitting donkey spider has it for a reason. For one, it's a roughly donkey-sized spider, but it also gets its name for taking the role of guard donkeys on more traditional ranches, where a donkey herds and protects. The spitting donkey spider does the same, though its natural habitat is swampland and the elven swamp ranches tend to focus on lizards. Not only are donkey spiders large and strong, they also, as the full name suggests, spit. This spit is similar to the gluey stuff other spiders might use to make a web, but donkey spiders use it to make globs of gray glue that they hurl at opponents, freezing them in place and making them easy targets for the spiders.

Unlike a donkey that might rely on a swift kick, the donkey spider makes good use of its fangs and its paralytic venom. This is good for ranchers, as they don't have to worry about many accidental kills from the donkey spiders, but fairly horrifying for the victim, as the paralysis lasts for 24-48 hours and the victim does not regain full functionality for up to a week. If the victim was a poacher or an enemy, their fate could be rather awful, as most donkey spiders are, not surprisingly, owned by spider-kin elves. The spider-kin's cultural penchant for cruelty is infamous. Some victims, still paralyzed but conscious, are freed of webbing via an acidic solution that burns the skin, hosed off, and fed to the penned lizards nearby. Those are among the less horrific cases.

The spitting donkey spider can't be blamed for the cruelty of its masters, however, and it is so easy to work with that it has transcended its use among the spider-kin and found its way into other markets. Eggs fetch a reasonable price, though as they are illegal in most areas beyond the swamp empire, they are usually found in black market inventories. Donkey spiders, sub-tropical creatures, adapt well to other warm climates and can thrive in tropical, sub-tropical, and 'dry summer' temperate climates, though the latter must offer a reasonable amount of annual rainfall and temperatures that do not reach the freezing point.

As it doesn't kill its victims (it would, but it instinctively saves the victim to feed to its young, and in domestic scenarios, this is not part of the equation), it is a prized guard on ranches everywhere, steadily gaining in popularity. As it is easy-going, as far as spiders are concerned, some even get them as guard "dogs" for the home. They are smart enough to know their owners/families and will not attack. While the very idea of a donkey-sized spider in the home is abhorrent to many, and their use in the home is fairly novel, some people swear by them. They are illegal in almost every urban environment, but regulations are more relaxed or not enforced in wilder regions and across sprawling farmlands.

Apart from the occasional trespasser, salesperson, or neighborhood bully being paralyzed for a week, dangerous incidents have been few and far between, and some children, who grow up with the spiders, sleep next to them...this is a bridge too far for many, and the comparisons to the often vile spider-kin are common, as though association with the donkey spider will curse you and change you into an evil elf. This belief is so strong among Lotus Clan elves, and they so hate the spider-kin elves, that they will invariably avoid and denounce the practice of keeping spiders of any kind. Notably, the true bonding the spider-kin are known for only happens with highly intelligent spider species that have minds as developed (or more developed) than most sapient humanoid species. This distinction matters little to those opposed to the practice of keeping donkey spiders as pets or ranch guards.

Donkey spiders have a variety of bright patterns, very unlike actual donkeys. They are accustomed to camouflage in the swamps, which are replete with bright blossoms. Most donkey spiders have a short, hairy coat ranging in color from deep brown to mottled green, and the males have bright, blossom-like markings on their backs that mimic swamp flowers. They use these to attract a mate. Most of the blossom marks are pink and yellow, though other colors are not unheard of, and the rare royal purple blossom marking fetches a fine price on the black market...though as one cannot tell from the eggs, this means they must be transported live, which also adds to the price. Fortunately, the hardy creatures tend to travel well.

Donkey spiders do not kill the males after mating unless they are in a food-poor area or they are starving themselves, in which case they may kill the male in lieu of a victim to feed the young. Males tend to be somewhat smaller, some the size of large dogs rather than donkeys, and females reach donkey...or, on occasion, horse...sizes. It should be noted that the relative sizes take into account the wider, shorter bodies of the spiders, and they usually reach heights from ten to twelve hands high.

Donkey spider variants, related species that go by other names such as the stick-walkers in the south, may be found used as mounts among the smaller, rodent species there.

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Cover image: Castle by jameschg


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