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 Field Guide to Spiders of Australia, by Robert Whyte and Greg Anderson.
This is my favourite field guide to Australian spiders. It has a proper index. It has amazing photographs. If I had to find a weak point of it, it would be that there are so many photos that there is less writing than there could have been. I like photos though so it's all good. 464 pages.
From the publisher, "A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia uses photographs of live animals to enable identification of commonly encountered spiders to the family level and, in some cases, to genus and species. Featuring over 1300 colour photographs, it is the most comprehensive account of Australian spiders ever published. With more than two-thirds of Australian spiders yet to be scientifically described, this book sets the scene for future explorations of our extraordinary Australian fauna."
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