Other Names: Whistling Spider, Barking Spider, Bird-Eating Spider, Selenocosmia crassipes (the current generic name Selenocosmia has been wrongly applied to the Australian species and will be revised, the generic name Phlogius being reinstated).
Family: Theraphosidae (Tarantulas), currently 7 known species in Australia, estimated total 30 Australian species, about 950 species in the world.
Size: Male body length up to 70 mm, Female body length up to 90 mm. Legspan up to 220 mm (22 cm).
Distribution: Throughout Mid-East and North Queensland. Other Australian tarantulas may occur more southerly, to North-Western Victoria.
Status: Tarantulas are highly threatened by the pet trade which is responsible for about 2000 tarantuals being sold in each state each year. From the Australian Museum, "The species that is most often kept as a pet is often sold as Selenocosmia crassipes. However
Habitat: Likes areas with plants. Lives in burrows in the ground up to one metre deep. May come to the surface in heavy rain.
References: Whyte and Anderson, Framenau, Baehr & Zborowski, Wikipedia, Australian Museum.
About the Eastern Tarantula
The Eastern Tarantula is Australia's largest spider.
Diet: The Eastern tarantula has been known to eat small birds, hence the nickname "Bird-eating spider"; however, they typically eat large insects, small mammals and amphibians, such as cane toads and frogs.
Danger: Wikipedia says a bite from an Eastern tarantula can cause up to six hours of vomiting, but is not fatal to humans. They can be fatal to smaller animals like dogs and cats within 30 minutes.
Treatment: No antivenom is given (there is none available nor is it required).
Note that dead spiders usually fade in colour, so nearly all the spiders will look blacker or darker in colour in real life than they do in the photos of dead spiders from the museum.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 2598 x 3652.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 1674 x 1236.
Male Eastern Tarantula. Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 2818 x 1963.
Female Eastern Tarantula. Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 2572 x 1956.
A Guide to the Spiders of Australia, by Volker W. Framenau, Barbara C. Baehr, and Paul Zborowski.
This is a great field guide to Australian spiders. It's a toss up between this one and Spiderwatch for my second favourite spider field guide. This one is a lot different to Spiderwatch. It's got more than twice the number of pages. It's got much better photos. It comes with a soft clear plastic cover protecting the usual soft cover. On the other side of the argument, it's got no index other than an index of family names (i.e. no index of actual spider names, not their common names and not their scientific names). Which makes it hard to find things in it, if you don't know what family they are in. Also it's based on families and not individual spider species. It's still a wonderful book though.
From the publisher, "This definitive guide to the subject, written by three experts in the field, offers a window into a fascinating world. Notorious species such as the Redback and the Sydney Funnel-web sit alongside less wellknown but equally intriguing spiders such as the ant-mimics and net-casting spiders. The introduction covers spider structure, evolution, reproduction, silk and venom, together with peculiarities of the family within an Australian context.
The two main sections of the book deal with Trapdoor Spiders and Modern Spiders, and within each section there is a chapter on each of the 80 or so spider families that occur in Australia. Each is illustrated with beautiful photographs of the subjects, with more than 30 images per family for some of the larger groups such as the jumping spiders, and many rare images never before published. "
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