Sydney Funnel Web Spider

As one of the most lethal spiders on the planet the Australian funnel-web spider elicits both fear and wonder. There are around 40 different species of funnel-web spiders, but the best known and deadliest species is found in Sydney region. The Sydney Funnel-web Spider (Atrax robustus) is a highly venomous species of spider native to eastern Australia. It is considered one of the world’s deadliest spiders due to its potent venom and aggressive behavior.

Funnel Web Spider Burrow

Funnel Web Spider

Funnel Web Spider Fangs

Funnel web spiders are relatively large, ranging in body length from 1 to 5 cm. The average leg length for these spiders is six to seven centimeters. Both sexes are dark and glossy, ranging in color from black, to blue-black, to darker shades of brown or plum. The deadly male spiders have large fangs that are capable of piercing through your fingernails.

Because funnel web spiders prefer moist environments, making a well-watered lawn or garden an ideal spot. In fact, most human encounters with the deadly male spiders occur outdoors, in the garden. They are also more likely to wander the garden during a rain, due to their underground home becoming flooded. Also, the males are more likely to come out of their burrows during warm weather to wander around, looking for a female to mate with. It’s at these times a deadly, male Sydney Funnel Web spider could wander into a home.

Another common occurrence is for the spiders to fall into a backyard swimming pool. If you find a funnel-web spider floating in your pool, scoop it out with extreme caution. These spiders can survive in water for up to 24 hours, so it is very likely the spider is not dead and drowned.

Sydney Funnel Web Spider Venom And Danger

The venom of the Sydney Funnel-web Spider is highly toxic and contains a potent neurotoxin that affects the nervous system. While their primary prey is insects, these spiders can deliver a deadly bite to humans if provoked or mishandled. The venom can cause severe symptoms, including intense pain, sweating, muscle spasms, elevated blood pressure, and in severe cases, respiratory distress.

Fortunately, due to advancements in antivenom and public awareness campaigns, deaths resulting from Sydney Funnel-web Spider bites have significantly decreased in recent decades. However, it is important to exercise caution and seek immediate medical attention if bitten. Antivenom is readily available and highly effective in treating bites from this species.

In conclusion, the Sydney Funnel-web Spider is a highly venomous and potentially dangerous spider native to eastern Australia. While its aggressive behavior and potent venom make it a formidable predator, the risk to humans has been mitigated through improved medical treatments. Nevertheless, it is essential to exercise caution and respect these spiders’ habitats to ensure a safe coexistence.

Use caution when gardening

When gardening, always wear gloves and remain alert for any signs of a funnel-web spider burrow. Encounters with funnel-web spiders usually happen when someone digs the spider up accidentally, or when male spiders are roaming around, looking for a female. Also, if you have left your shoes outside, check them for spiders before putting them on. It’s also a wise idea the check your shoes indoors too.

If a Sydney Funnel Web spider does get inside your home, they are likely to move into the cooler, damp places inside, such as the laundry room, bathroom, or garage.

What to Do if You Encounter a Sydney Funnel Web Spider

In the extreme case of a bite, experts recommend applying a pressure immobilization bandage and going immediately to a hospital for an anti-venom treatment. There is no time to waste, if you are bitten by a Sydney Funnel Web spider.

However, your encounter with one of these spiders will likely be more benign. While you can simply stomp on the spider to eliminate the danger, another option is to catch it, and bring it to the Australian Reptile Park. The Reptile Park depends on spider donations to manufacture the life-saving anti-venom.

If it is safe to do so, you can catch the spider in a glass jar. Be very careful, experts recommend keeping your hands at least 20 cm away from the spider. The spider will not be able to climb out of the jar, and before you secure the lid, place a wet cotton swab and a bit of moist dirt in there too. Funnel-web spiders can die quickly of dehydration. Once that is done, take it ASAP to the Australian Reptile Park to be included in the anti-venom program.

Funnel web spiders are predominantly live in moist environments like rainforests, and coastal areas. They construct burrows in the ground, up to 30 centimeters deep. The burrow entrance is marked with a distinctive funnel-shaped web, from which the spider derives its common name. The deadly Sydney funnel-web spider is found in both the bushland and suburban neighborhoods between Newcastle to the north and Illawarra to the south. Funnel-web spiders live in underground burrows, often occupying a space underneath a rock or a fallen log. They’ll turn a naturally occurring underground cavities into their home, by lining it with their silk to strengthen the structure, and putting trip lines outside the entrance to catch prey. Funnel web spiders are mostly active at night, and sleep during the day.

The Sydney Funnel-web Spider is known for its aggressive behavior and defensive nature. When threatened, these spiders will rear up on their hind legs, exposing their fangs and displaying a warning posture. They are primarily nocturnal hunters, preying on insects and other small invertebrates. The funnel-shaped web serves as a trap for unsuspecting prey, which the spider quickly immobilizes with its venomous bite.


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