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

A Guide to the Spiders of Australia, by Volker W. Framenau, Barbara C. Baehr, and Paul ZborowskiA 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. "

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

See Also

Return to Australian Spiders
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