Sydney Funnel Web Spider
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Danger: Dangerously venomous
Family: Hexathelidae (Australian Funnel-Web Spiders). 50 Australian species.
Size: Body 10-50 mm
Distribution: Eastern Australia, mainly in NSW, especially near the coast from Newcastle to Nowra and inland to about Lithgow, i.e. within about 100 km of Sydney. But also can be common in central NSW, and occasionally found in Victoria.
Habitat: They prefer damp forested gullies and other moist woody ground locations, such as rotting logs. Are often found when clearing dead trees or looking for firewood. Their webs are funnel shaped and close to or on the ground.
References: Brunet. Whyte and Anderson. Wikipedia
About the Sydney Funnel Web Spider
Atrax robustus is mainly active at night, they like damp and could become dehydrated in the daytime. They have eight eyes.
Danger: The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider is considered by some authorities to be the world's most dangerous spider. Deaths have occurred in as little as 15 minutes. However there have been no deaths since antivenom was developed in 1981. The male's venom is 6 times more toxic than the female, and no severe bites by females have been recorded. Unlike many spiders which run away from people, Sydney Funnel-Webs are very aggressive and will attack if disturbed. They can live a long time underwater and should never be presumed dead if found in water, such as a swimming pool. Their dangerous component of their venom, atracotoxin, only harms humans and other primates and they are not dangerous to other mammals.
Treatment: A funnel-web bite is regarded as a medical emergency requiring immediate hospital treatment. From spiders.com.au, "Quick action saves lives: A pressure immobilisation bandage (PIB) must be applied as soon as possible after a Funnel-web spider bite or from any large black spider suspect (e.g. a mouse spider or trapdoor spider). IF PIB applied and medical attention obtained quickly - then a few days recovery time in hospital is required in most cases."
The bandage must firmly applied (but not too tight) - as tight as for a sprained ankle. Wrap the entire limb that was bitten. Rest the limb or other affected body area (and the entire patient) as much as possible while getting them to hospital as quickly as possible. This is the same treatment as for Australian venomous snake bites.
Note that dead spiders usually fade in colour, so nearly all the spiders will look blacker or darker in colour in real life than they do in the photos of dead spiders from the museum.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 2833 x 2473.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 4136 x 2648.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3448 x 2088.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3640 x 2424.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 1565 x 1165.
Left to Right: Southern Tree Funnel Web, Sydney Funnel Web male (L), female (R), Brown Trapdoor male (L), female (R), Eastern Mouse Spider male (L), female (R). Photo taken at the Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3460 x 788.
A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia, by Robert Whyte and Greg Anderson.
This is my favourite field guide to Australian spiders. It has a proper index. It has amazing photographs. If I had to find a weak point of it, it would be that there are so many photos that there is less writing than there could have been. I like photos though so it's all good. 464 pages.
From the publisher, "A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia uses photographs of live animals to enable identification of commonly encountered spiders to the family level and, in some cases, to genus and species. Featuring over 1300 colour photographs, it is the most comprehensive account of Australian spiders ever published. With more than two-thirds of Australian spiders yet to be scientifically described, this book sets the scene for future explorations of our extraordinary Australian fauna."
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