The funnel spider happens to be one of the deadliest arachnids in the world. The critter, which is native to Australia, is considered to rank the deadliest creature because it can kill within 15 minutes with just a single bite. In fact, there are reports indicating that about 15 deaths were caused by bites from this spider between 1927 and 1981.
Although male funnel spiders are more dangerous than their female counterparts, they live for about 8 years less.
In Australia, the funnel spiders can be found within a range of 100 miles in Sydney, and most are found in crevices between rocks, under houses, or in trees and holes. Humans are more vulnerable to their bites more than any other domesticated animals, such as dogs and cats.
The Common Species
These spiders are generally shinny and black and have a distinctive appearance. Although there are about 40 species, the common one is the Sydney Funnel-web (Atrax robustus).Until the discovery of the anti-venom in 1980, there were more than 13 human deaths that were caused by the males of this species.
Male Sydney funnel-web spiders contain a component in their venom which is missing in females. The toxin is referred to as Robustoxin, which is the active chemical that makes these spiders rank among the deadliest in the planet. Interestingly this toxin only affects primates (humans, apes, and monkeys)but is relatively less hazardous to other animal species.
Funnel Spider Hideouts and Distribution
Unfortunately, these spiders’ natural habitat is found in densely populated areas such as Sydney, Australia. The discovery of the anti-venom has greatly diminished the danger posed by the venom from these spiders. In about 40 years, no death has been caused by the Sydney funnel-web spiders, but the fear of these critters is still a reality in Australia.
Funnel-web spiders are commonly found within silken retreats underground, while some can inhabit places like hollows and crevices in trees. Most of the species prefer moist habitats like shaded gullies in the middle of forests. The species is widely distributed in Australia from South Adelaide (Adelaide Hills) to parts of Victoria, Tasmania, and along the east coast of Queensland.
Species that live underground naturally occur between rocks and logs. They have tube-like openings of silk, and mostly bare distinct silk strands also known as trip lines.These lines help to alert the spiders of the presence of prey whenever they are hunting. Funnel web spiders normally take small vertebrates like frogs and lizards. They also consume insects and other spiders.
These spiders simply ambush the prey and overpower them. They bite and drag prey into their retreat where they feed on them. In order to hunt, these spiders are highly sensitive to vibrations. Encounters with humans are often accidental and happen when people are digging. Human encounters can also occur when males are roaming around to look for companions during the mating season.
The funnel-web spiders are readily preyed upon by centipedes.
Funnel SpiderBite Symptoms
Symptoms of funnel-web spider bite starts early and may include:
- Tingling around the mouth
- Profuse salivating
- Muscle spasms
- Watery eyes
- Twitching of the tongue
- Elevated heartbeat
- Respiratory distress (which) can be fatal
The Australian funnel spider is native and exclusive to Australia. it is often confused with the funnel weaver spiders in the family Agelenidae, found in the states. The funnel Weaver from the states in not poisonous and neither are the two spider species related in any way.
The funnel-web spiders are commonly found in Australia and the males happen to be among the deadliest species in the world. Their bites can cause a fatality in less than 15 minutes. The anti-venom to their toxic chemical was invented in 1980, and no death has been reported ever since.