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v0.34:Giant cave spider

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Giant cave spider


Urist likes giant cave spiders for their mystery.

  • Underground Depth: 1-2

Cave spider - Giant cave spider

Alignment: Savage

Building destroyer: Level 1

· No Stun · No Pain · Webs · Syndrome

Tamed Attributes
Pet value 2,500

· Exotic pet · Non-Breeding

Not trainable 

Birth: 20,000 cm3
Mid: 100,000 cm3
Max: 200,000 cm3

Adult at: Birth
Max age: 20-30
Butchering returns

(Value multiplier ×4)

Food items

Meat 19
Fat 18
Brain 1
Heart 1
Intestines 1

Raw materials

Skin Chitin
This article is about an older version of DF.
A large underground monster with eight legs and sharp, venomous fangs.

Giant cave spiders (also known as GCS) are far different from your regular cave spiders; those are just treats for your cat. Giant cave spiders are as big as grizzly bears and will make treats of cats, dwarves, and the occasional careless adventurer. You can find giant cave spiders in, obviously, caves, caverns and most underground areas. They are the most dangerous creature in the caverns, excluding some forgotten beasts, as they feel no pain, cannot be stunned, can poison creatures and have the ability to shoot webbing to ensnare their prey.

They do not pose a big threat to a fortress when undisturbed, but when a dwarf does disturb one, Armok bless the soul of the unlucky dwarf.

Giant cave spiders are not a rarity with dozens present in the underground caverns, deep below the surface. They can be extremely hard to kill. On occasion, however, a lucky dwarf might pound one to death within a few attacks by punching its skull into its brain, which can be a godsend after an unfortunate cavern breaching exercise.

Webs are quite useful when they aren't being used in an attack against you. Giant cave spider silk is worth twice as much as plant-derived textile and, given the proper setup and victims, can be produced in endless amounts.

If you see a giant cave spider in adventurer mode, an announcement, "You've spotted a Giant Cave Spider!" will appear.


Giant cave spiders should not be engaged in melee by a lone dwarf, especially if its armor is lacking. Even if the attacked dwarf is fully armored it will eventually die of hunger or thirst due to being webbed. Even a legendary axedwarf will be unable to do anything, due to the immobilizing webs and subsequent deadly bite. You may attempt to flank a giant cave spider with two melee dwarves, one serving as bait and the other killing the giant cave spider, but it is not a foolproof tactic and you will probably lose one or two dwarves. Marksdwarves, cage traps, and weapon traps are a better solution.

To give you a feeling of how deadly they are in melee, a lone giant cave spider can take on and completely incapacitate any of the semimegabeasts, is the most dangerous predator of the caverns competing with the cave dragon, and fight equally with the weakest megabeasts like rocs or hydras.

Giant cave spider venom appears to be a neurotoxin which causes progressive paralysis and is ultimately fatal due to suffocation as the victim's diaphragm succumbs and ceases to function. The poison's effects set in relatively quickly, with complete paralysis after 720 seconds (10 time units) and with death usually occurring after 1300 seconds. In terms of Fortress mode, and depending on the speed of the victim, the venom will paralyze an infected dwarf within two steps and they will die of suffocation soon after.

Giant cave spider venom is only deadly on relatively small creatures, unlike giant desert scorpion venom. It only tends to induce mild paralysis of members on large things such as giants.

Due to the spider only attacking the head of a webbed dwarf, a pair of dwarves with steel helmets and weapons is more than a match for a lone GCS. The coding for all creatures sets headshots as the number one priority if possible, and the web ensures that a headshot is indeed always possible. You may want to avoid using untrained dwarves for this though, because the spider will still counterattack if the dwarf misses, potentially landing a blow on an unprotected area of the dwarf.

Fortunately (or unfortunately...), giant cave spiders tend to take time to kill their prey, giving you time to kill the GCS and save the dwarf, if you are similarly inclined of course. You may however not be able to save the dwarf from the GCS poison.


Due to the considerable value of giant cave spider silk, many players attempt to capture a live spider and set up a silk farm to boost their fortress's economy. While simply opening a path to the caverns and lining it with cage traps may eventually work, a much more effective method is to take advantage of one peculiar behavior of building destroyers: simply build a wooden door within the caverns and surround it with cage traps (to a distance of at least 2 tiles), and any giant cave spider (or giant toad, giant olm, cave crocodile, etc.) that wanders relatively close enough to the door will immediately charge toward it and be captured. Or, if you have enough mechanisms, cages and dwarfpower to spare, cage trap all of the cavern exits. If you are extremely lucky, a migrant will arrive with an already tamed GCS. Be aware that since they lack a [CHILD] tag, giant cave spiders will not breed.

Farming Silk[edit]

Main article: Silk farming

Giant cave spiders can be a very lucrative and nearly-inexhaustible source of silk thread for your weavers. The general idea is to expose the spider to a target, causing it to spew webs which can later be collected. Well-designed silk farms can maximize safety and production, and greatly increase fortress wealth.

Live training[edit]

Main article: Live training

Pit an entirely metal-armored dwarf (the metal used seems to be unimportant) against a wild giant cave spider. Enjoy as the dwarf gets webbed, then the GCS attempts to bite the dwarf, but fails due to armor.

As it will never attempt any other attack, the GCS will keep biting metal, fail to injure the dwarf, and each attack will train your dwarf in armor using far faster than training or sparring.

As you probably don't want to kill something as rare and precious as a giant cave spider for just training armor user on a dwarf, you may want to set the training area on a lever-linked bridge, then pull the lever and fling/let fall the GCS on cage traps, therefore separating harmlessly the dwarf and the GCS.

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