lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

S is for Sparklemuffin

Of course there is an animal called a sparklemuffin! This is a serious blog!

It’s a creature which is often disliked, but this particular specimen has earned the adoration of millions if not gazillions (*this fact not checked) of internet users.

Really the only way to demonstrate the wonder of this creature is to link to a short video of it and its friends, taken by the biologist, Otto Jürgen, who discovered and started studying and filming, photographing and blogging them:

Sparklemuffin, as you can see, is the nickname given to the peacock spider Maratus jactatus, and this wonderful dance is used by the male to attract a mate.

These spiders are tiny, only about 4mm across, and live in eastern Australia. Otto Jürgen spotted a specimen of one of these species one day, investigated further, and found out about their incredible mating display dances.

Jumping spiders have excellent eyesight – they have lenses, with an internal focussing mechanism and complex four layered retina. All this means that a jumping spider can see well into the distance, more colours than a human and fine detail.

As Jürgen started to film them he noticed that the spiders also had incredible characters – they were curious, showed excitement and anticipation, in fact he became so fond of them the thought of squashing one became an anathema.

If you’d like to see more, Otto Jürgen has a Facebook page, and a Youtube account.

Here is my Peacock Spider poem – with apologies to Hilaire Belloc’s Tarantella! The tarantella is a dance of southern Italy – said to be danced by those that had been bitten by the tarantula spider, to get rid of the poison from their system! Peacock spiders like this however, can’t bite us, they are too tiny and their jaws can’t puncture our skin, so no danger to humans!


The Peacock Spiders Dance

(after Hilaire Belloc)


This is the dance of the spiders,

watch the spiders dance if you dare!

There’s a jazzle and a razzle

of colours that bedazzle

and their knees are a tease waving high in the trees

as their backsides waggle in the air!


And they dance and they prance

for the females who are there,

who have to be impressed

before they’ll be caressed

by the tip top taps

and the spring,

and the flip of the back


and tap of the feet to the beat and repeat

of the spider glancing, dancing,

backing and advancing,

spinnerets all twiddling in a spin, out and in

and pedipalps padding in the air –


This is the dance of the spiders,

watch the spiders dance if you dare!



© Liz Brownlee


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Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved, not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.






  1. How do you find all those creatures? I am learning about so many new little creatures through following you on this challenge!


    • Welll.. various ways! I know a lot of them from research in the past for poems. Endangered animal lists. My husband is a film editor, mainly for nature programmes, like David Attenborough ones on the BBC. So I see a lot of film. I knew about this one as i’ve seen some video of it and had it in the back of my mind to feature, so at the beginning looked up to see which letter I could use for it. I could have used spider but I decided sparklemuffin was more fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this poem! You seem to capture the wild side of this little spider who also seems to have a nasty bite??


    • No bite, well they are poisonous and bite their prey, but their little jaws can’t puncture our skin, so not a danger to us… Thanks, Birgit, I’ll edit to make that clearer!


  3. What fun! And what a beautiful little guy!

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act


    • Thanks, Samantha! I was worried for the arachnophobes, though!


  4. Oh my goodness, just when I think you’ve excelled yourself you raise the bar another notch. Who could not be enchanted by a sparklemuffin? And your poem is sublime.

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos


    • Thank you Susan – a lot of the credit goes to Hilaire Belloc!


  5. Thanks for another outstanding post.


  6. Anonymous

    As always your posts are very informative. I can’t stand spiders myself, being bitten in the eye years ago. My hubby laughs at me when I shriek t trying to kill a spider. He usually gets up and does it for me. Ha! Liz, can you share your email with me?


    • Thank you! My email should be on your system from when I commented on your blog? You have commented this time as ‘Anonymous’ here, so your email does not show up. Other than that it is on my website, under contact details.


  7. And presumably the female stays mesmerised long enough for him to mate and escape? Spider equivalent of Rohipnol!


    • These spiders don’t eat their mates – not that many spiders do!


  8. I’ve never heard of these guys before!


  9. These critters sure are colorful and their dancing is fascinating, but throughout the YouTube video, my mouth was pinched up, my brow furrowed, and my thoughts kept returning to one word – yuck. I’m not a big spider person… Interesting though!


    • It does seem instinctive to some people to dislike spiders!


  10. Your poem is beautiful and describes wonderfully their dance. Great job.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange


  11. I don’t care for spiders but this is delightful! I’ve always believed they have their own personalities – maybe from ‘Charlottes’s Web’ – ha! What a great theme!


    • Thank you. And, oh, Diedre, I loved Charlotte’s Web as well! Did you know E B White wrote poetry?


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