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Australian Wildlife

  Sydney Funnel-web Spider (Atrax robustus)





Sydney Funnel-web Spider | Atrax robustus photo
Male Sydney funnel-web Spider photographed November 2004 at the Reptile Park at Gosford.

Image by Tirin, www.takver.com - GNU Free Documentation License.    (view image details)



SPIDER FACTS

Description
The Sydney Funnel-web Spider is a very aggressive species and one of the deadliest spiders in the world. The cephalothorax is almost hairless and appears smooth and glossy black. The abdomen is black, dark brown or purplish in colour. The body and legs are covered with fine hairs. The male has more slender legs and a spur on the third segment of the second leg. This tiny spur is used to hold the female's fangs during mating. Funnel-webs are extremely aggressive spiders and when threatened they raise their front legs high off the ground and point their fangs forward ready to strike. When they strike they drive the fangs down with force and speed.

Size
Body length: male 20mm, Female 30mm

Habitat
The Sydney Funnel-web Spider is found in rainforest and wet eucalypt forest, and has moved into shady damp areas of private gardens. They build their silk-lined burrow under a rock or log. The burrow may be up to 60cm long. Most burrows have two entrance. The burrow entrance has thicker lines of silk radiating from the entrance to form trip-lines which alert the spider when prey is near. They are attracted to water and sometimes fall into swimming pools when they are wandering.

Food
mostly insects, although can catch prey as large as frogs and lizards

Breeding
Males reach sexual maturity at four years of age and females at five years. The male wanders in search for a mate in humid conditions after heavy rain. The Female spend most of her time in her burrow, and waits there for a mate. The male entices the female out of her burrow for mating. The female produces an egg-sac with about 100 eggs and stores it in the burrow until the spiderlings hatch.

Range
found mainly around the Sydney area in Australia although the range extends along coastal regions of New South Wales to Queensland.

Notes
Male Funnel-web Spiders sometimes wander into buildings when they are searching for a mate, and sometimes find their way into clothing on the floor. The Sydney funnel-web spider bite is one of the most dangerous in the world. Bites can be fatal if not treated. An antivenom is available and no fatalities have been reported since its introduction. Seek medical treatment immediately if bitten.



Classification
Class:Arachnida
Order:Mygalomorphae
Family:Hexathelidae
Genus:Atrax
Species:robustus
Common Name:Sydney Funnel-web Spider