by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com

Heavy downpours in Australia recently offered some relief to the fire-ravaged country, which has been battling deadly blazes since last fall. But wet conditions have paved the way for another natural threat. As Amaani Siddeek reports for the Guardian, wildlife officials have warned that residents near Sydney could soon experience a “bonanza” of sightings of the funnel-web spider, an aggressive arachnid with a potentially deadly bite.

Funnel-webs are a family of more than 40 spiders, among them the notorious Atrax robustus, or Sydney funnel-web spider, which is native to eastern Australia. These critters, so named for the shape of their websburrow under logs and rocks, typically rushing out of their hiding spot to attack prey such as beetles, cockroaches, and small snails. But the recent climate has prompted male funnel-webs to surface for another reason.

“Because of the recent rain, and now, the hot days we are now experiencing, funnel-web spiders will start to move around,” explains Dan Rumsey of Australian Reptile Park near Sydney. “In particular, male funnel-webs as they start to venture to look for a female funnel-web spider to mate with.”

Unfortunately, male funnel-webs are of particular concern; their venom is six times more potent…

Read Full Article at SmithsonianMag.org

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Ah gotta love the Australian fauna and flora. I was just in Sydney the other week and went to Taronga Zoo and attended the spider talk where I got to see a funnelweb up close. Scary looking spider with massive fangs but a beautiful creature at the same time.

  2. Another thing, the Funnel Web spider bite is only fatal to humans and monkeys, dogs, cats, horses etc are unaffected by the venom. Strange how mother nature gives these creatures a weapon affecting only us. If God exists he has a sense of humor.

  3. Until the mid 1970’s, when an antidote was created, there was NEVER a single individual bitten by one of these bastards who survived a funnel web spider bite, it was 100% fatal. Not only that, most spiders are timid and will avoid a human, but these bastards will come looking for you.

    • We had lots of them in our backyard in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Until I sent one to the Curator of Arachnids at the Brisbane Museum it was not thought to exist that far north, so the hospitals didn’t keep the antivenin.

  4. Those poor Ausies. When I lived there and would regularly see snakes so big they looked like something out of X-Files, Aussies were not deterred by these deadly poisonous monster snakes. You know what really scared the Auusies (including the beloved Aborigines)?

    Spiders.