Sydney Funnel Web Spider - Atrax robustus

Sydney Funnel Web Spider

Atrax robustus

Family: Hexathelidae (Australian Funnel-Web Spiders). 50 Australian species.
Size: Body 10-50 mm
Distribution: Eastern Australia, mainly in NSW, especially near the coast from Newcastle to Nowra and inland to about Lithgow, i.e. within about 100 km of Sydney. But also can be common in central NSW, and occasionally found in Victoria.
Habitat: They prefer damp forested gullies and other moist woody ground locations, such as rotting logs. Are often found when clearing dead trees or looking for firewood. Their webs are funnel shaped and close to or on the ground.
References: Brunet. Whyte and Anderson. Wikipedia

Atrax robustus is mainly active at night, they like damp and could become dehydrated in the daytime. They have eight eyes.

Danger: The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider is considered by some authorities to be the world's most dangerous spider. Deaths have occurred in as little as 15 minutes. However there have been no deaths since antivenom was developed in 1981. The male's venom is 6 times more toxic than the female, and no severe bites by females have been recorded. Unlike many spiders which run away from people, Sydney Funnel-Webs are very aggressive and will attack if disturbed. They can live a long time underwater and should never be presumed dead if found in water, such as a swimming pool. Their dangerous component of their venom, atracotoxin, only harms humans and other primates and they are not dangerous to other mammals.

Treatment: A funnel-web bite is regarded as a medical emergency requiring immediate hospital treatment. From spiders.com.au, "Quick action saves lives: A pressure immobilisation bandage (PIB) must be applied as soon as possible after a Funnel-web spider bite or from any large black spider suspect (e.g. a mouse spider or trapdoor spider). IF PIB applied and medical attention obtained quickly - then a few days recovery time in hospital is required in most cases."

The bandage must firmly applied (but not too tight) - as tight as for a sprained ankle. Wrap the entire limb that was bitten. Rest the limb or other affected body area (and the entire patient) as much as possible while getting them to hospital as quickly as possible. This is the same treatment as for Australian venomous snake bites.

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.

Sydney Funnel Web Spider - Atrax robustus
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 2833 x 2473.

Sydney Funnel Web Spider - Atrax robustus
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 4136 x 2648.

Sydney Funnel Web Spider - Atrax robustus
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3448 x 2088.

Sydney Funnel Web Spider - Atrax robustus
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3640 x 2424.

Sydney Funnel Web Spider - Atrax robustus
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 1565 x 1165.

Sydney Funnel Web Spider - Atrax robustus
Left to Right: Southern Tree Funnel Web, Sydney Funnel Web male (L), female (R), Brown Trapdoor male (L), female (R), Eastern Mouse Spider male (L), female (R). Photo taken at the Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3460 x 788.

Recommended Reading

Spiders: A Wild Australia Guide, by Patrick HonanSpiders: A Wild Australia Guide, by Patrick Honan.

96 pages. This is a smaller spider guide showing the most well known spiders and then a few more.

From the publisher, "Australia is home to more than 2000 known species of spiders - and it is estimated that four times that number actually exist in this country waiting to be discovered! Within the ranks of Australian spiders we find some of the most uniquely interesting and skilled creatures of the animal world, along with a few potentially-deadly species and even more harmless individuals with fearsome reputations. Love them or loathe them, spiders are a part of everyday life, and this Steve Parish WILD AUSTRALIA GUIDE provides an insight into the lives of some of these often-reclusive visitors to our gardens, homes and wild places. From how to identify them and where they live, to their unique skills and behaviours, this guide lets you get up close to some of the most common Australian spiders. Who knows? You may even find some of these fascinating creatures living right under your nose."

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

See Also

Return to Australian Spiders
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