The Funnel-Web Spider
Funnel-web spiders are found in eastern Australia, Tasmania and as far west as the Gulf Ranges.
At least 40 species of funnel web spiders have been identified.
Funnel-web spiders burrow in moist, cool, sheltered habitats – under rocks and rotting logs.
The most characteristic sign of a Funnel-web’s burrow is the irregular silk trip-lines that radiate out from the burrow entrance of most species. These trip lines alert the spider to possible prey, mates or danger.
Most funnel-web spiders are nocturnal – that is active at night.
Funnel-web spiders are large, about 1.5 – 4.5 cm body length, with a glossy dark brown to black carapace. The abdomen is usually dark plum to black and not patterned.
Female funnel-web spiders spend most of their life in their burrows.
The males leave their burrows in search of females in summer and autumn, which is when they often come into contact with humans.
The female spins a pillow-shaped silk egg sac, into which she lays over 100 eggs. She cleans and turns the egg sac several times during incubation and will defend it vigorously if disturbed. The spiderlings hatch about three weeks later, and stay with the mother for a few months. After two moults, they leave the burrow to make their own burrows.
When juvenile males leave the burrow they become wanderers.
Funnel-webs mature in about two to four years, with the females living to ten or more years, and the males dying about six to nine months after maturity.
The spider’s famous bite is dangerous and can cause serious illness or death. The venom appears to particularly affect humans, whereas other mammals – such as cats and dogs – are relatively resistant.
The male Sydney Funnel-web Spider is more dangerous than the female, because it carries the toxic venom that attacks the human nervous system so severely.Read More: The Wedge-tailed Eagle