MYGALOMORPHS The family Mygalomorphs includes some of the largest, most ancient and most dangerous spiders in the world. In Australia we have 10 families of Mygalomorphs. Included within are the Funnel-web, Mouse and Trapdoor Spiders.
FUNNEL-WEB (Hadronyche and Atrax spp.)
Massive fangs glisten with venom as the body of this formidable spider rears up – ready to make the first of its many repeated strikes.
The Funnel-web family, uniquely Australian, includes the spider that is considered by many to be the world’s deadliest spider – the Sydney Funnel-web (Atrax robustus.). The increase of urban sprawl along the east coast of Australia has seen humans encroaching upon the Funnel-web’s natural habitat – hence the corresponding increase in the incidence of reported bites. Before the development of the antivenom in 1980, at least 13 people had died from the bite of a male Funnel-web. There have been no fatalities since.
The largest of the Funnel-web spiders, the female Northern or Tree-dwelling Funnel-web is twice the size of the male and can span the width of an adult’s hand. Both males and females are potentially dangerous and the toxins they inject may be fatal. Fortunately, this spider is rarely encountered as it inhabits heavily timbered areas rarely visited by people.
MOUSE (Missulena Occatori)
The colors of the female and male of this species are so dissimilar, that they were once thought to be members of two distinct species. The female is glossy black, whereas the male is much more distinctive, with his orange to bright red fangs and head. They both appear stumpy because of their wide body and short legs. Immature males live in burrows until maturity.
Largest of all Trapdoor spiders, with a leg span of up to 16cm. The Whistling Spider gets its name from the hissing noise it makes when disturbed. Although not naturally aggressive, it will rear up with its large fangs poised ready to strike. Selenocosmia is the most common genus of Whistling Spider in Australia. Bites from such a large spider would be painful and cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, however, they are not deadly. Seek medical advice.