Australia is known as the home of some of the most unique creatures in the world. This doesn’t just pertain to big animals, though. While the kangaroo, koala, freshwater and saltwater crocodile, cassowary, dingo, wallaby, kookaburra and wombat are some of the country’s famed wildlife, there’s no secret that Australia is also the habitat of some of the most dangerous creatures in the world — and they’re small.
We’re talking about spiders.
Many of Australia’s spiders actually belong to the world’s most venomous spiders list, so regardless of whether you are a local or a visitor, it is helpful to have the ability to identify spiders that you might encounter when exploring outdoors (or that might even just enter your home).
To help you become familiar with the most dangerous spiders in Australia, provided below is a brief guide:
Common Garden Orb Weave Spiders. These spiders are widespread across Australia and are commonly known for their aggression — they are well known to bite. However, their bites only cause some local pain.
Sydney Funnel-Web Spider. No questions asked: The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider is considered the deadliest spider in Australia and possibly the world. It’s small, being just 1.5cm to 3.5cm big, but it has large and powerful fangs that can deliver a venom that could severely damage the human nervous system and human organs. It is native to New South Wales.
Other Funnel-Web Spiders. In southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales, there live about 40 other species of Funnel-Web spiders. Of these, only around six species are known to cause serious envenomation.
White-Tailed Spiders. Observed in south Queensland to Tasmania and in eastern Australia, White-Tailed Spiders have recently been studied and found to possess a venom that poses no major danger to humans. Their bite only typically causes mild local pain, although the spider has a reputation for having a flesh-eating venom (no scientific studies can support this).
Recluse spider. The Recluse Spider can be found all over the country. But while it has a potentially dangerous venom that can damage human blood and skin, it is not inclined to bite and has only tiny fangs.
Redback Spider. Named such because of the vibrant red stripe on its back, the Redback Spider can be found all across Australia. This spider’s more serious bites come from the female of the species, but while its venom is quite potent (harmful to the human nervous system), the Redback’s fangs are small, so many bites tend to be ineffective.
Trap Door Spiders. These spiders are also found all over Australia. They are named so because of their habit of camouflaging the entrance to their burrow; this then tricks prey into falling inside and becoming an easy catch. The venom of the trap Door Spider is not as severe, causing mostly just localised pain and perhaps some lethargy, malaise and nausea.
Mouse Spider. Mouse Spiders are found all over the country. They share a similar venom with Funnel-Web spiders, yet there have never been any deaths caused by the Mouse Spider’s bite. These spiders are actually rarely aggressive, choosing to stay mostly within their burrow.
Huntsman Spiders. Seen all over the country, these spiders scare people because they are quite large (their legs can span up to 15cm) and they tend to jump out or bolt from behind things. However, their venom is not harmful to humans and they are not known for delivering bites. They eat smaller insects and can actually help control pests in the home.
Tarantulas. Australian Tarantulas can inspire fear at the sight of their hairy legs and large size, but they are actually quite harmless to humans. Their bites can be painful because of their large fangs, but they rarely cause severe effects such as fever, vomiting or nausea. They are also known as barking or whistling spiders because they produce these sounds when they rub their front limbs against their jaws.
Keep in mind that, in general, spiders would only attack if they feel threatened, and Australian records show only one death (in 2016) caused by spider bites since 1981. This is mostly due to administering the proper first aid measures for bites and the creation of effective antivenoms. Still, if you observe spiders within your property, you can call professionals who can handle them properly.
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