Photos of jumping spiders show the small arachnids eating frogs and lizards larger than they are, injecting them with venom and then feeding on their corpses.

A study on the spider family in the Journal of Arachnology is the first to document the creatures consuming vertebrates, after scientists searched online for reports of jumping spiders eating those animals. They came across images of the regal jumping spider killing and then downing frogs and lizards either their own size or larger.

spider-eats-frog A regal jumping spider takes down a Cuban tree frog in this photo, rare evidence of the arachnid eating vertebrates. Photo: Journal of Arachnology

“Scientists and everyday people have seen multiple examples of frogs, lizards and other creatures dining on small spiders, but more rare is when the reverse happens,” according to a report on the research.

The regal jumping spider is one of the largest and most hairy ones in its family, the University of Florida says, with an average size of about half an inch to 0.6 inches, and is typically found in Florida, although it also lives in the southeastern U.S. in general as well as in the Caribbean: the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Their eyes are distinct, with three rows of them: four in one row and two each in the others. Those eyes have good vision and help the spider find prey, which it jumps on.

“Jumping spiders are harmless, beneficial creatures,” according to the University of Florida. “The larger species … are capable of delivering a painful bite, but will do so only if held tightly. The bite itself causes a sharp stinging sensation which subsides in a few minutes and requires no treatment. These spiders are easily tamed and can be induced to jump back and forth from hand to hand.”

spider-eats-frog2 A regal jumping spider feeds on a Cuban tree frog. Photo: Journal of Arachnology

spider-eats-frog3 A regal jumping spider eats a Carolina anole, a type of lizard longer than the spider itself. Photo: Journal of Arachnology

During their search for information about jumping spiders eating vertebrates, the scientists found documentation of the regal jumping spider consuming lizards 1.5 to 2.5 times longer than it and frogs 1 to 1.5 times longer.

The study notes that some jumping spiders have been known to choose prey that is as big as three times their length and twice their weight, so the regal jumping spiders feeding on larger reptiles and amphibians keeps with that.

“Most species of salticid spiders are probably too small … to be able to overpower such large vertebrate prey,” the study notes. But the regal jumping spider, which also eats insects, would be an exception.

Their prey included Cuban tree frogs and a type of tree lizard called the Carolina anole.

spider-eats-frog4 A regal jumping spider feeds on a lizard called the Carolina anole. Photo: Journal of Arachnology

“The tiny spiders do not have to engage in battles with their prey; instead, they simply inject them with venom and then wait for them to die,” according to the report.

Like a lot of other spiders, the regal jumping spiders are not picky eaters — they will eat what they come across.

“I'm very impressed that there is a jumping spider species capable of killing and eating small frogs and lizards,” study co-author Martin Nyffeler told National Geographic. He is a conservation biologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland. “I feel a little sorry for the frogs and lizards … because I am not only fond of spiders, I also like frogs and lizards.”