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Australian Funnel-Web Spiders ((Atracidae), Facts, Identifications & Pictures

Australian Funnel-Web Spiders

The Australian funnel-web spiders are the common name of the species belonging to the Atracidae family, comprising of mygalomorph spiders, with all the members being a native of and indigenous to Australia. The three genera within the family include Atrax, Illawarra, and Hadronyche, with the three having a total of 35 species.

Australian Funnel-Web Spider

Spiders Belonging To This Family

Genus

Species

  • Sydney funnel-web
  • Victorian funnel-web
  • Southern tree-dwelling
  • Northern tree-dwelling funnel-web
  • Darling Downs funnel-web
  • Port Macquarie funnel-web
  • Blue Mountains funnel-web
  • Atrax sutherlandi
  • Atrax yorkmainorum
  • Port Macquarie funnel-web
  • Blue Mountains funnel-web
  • Hadronyche walkeri
  • Hadronyche adelaidensis
  • Hadronyche alpina Gray
  • Hadronyche annachristiae
  • Hadronyche anzses
  • Hadronyche anzses
  • Hadronyche emmalizae
  • Hadronyche eyrei
  • Hadronyche flindersi
  • Hadronyche jensenae
  • Hadronyche kaputarensis
  • Hadronyche lamingtonensis
  • Hadronyche levittgreggae
  • Hadronyche lynabrae
  • Hadronyche marracoonda
  • Hadronyche mascordi
  • Hadronyche meridiana
  • Hadronyche monaro
  • Hadronyche monteithi
  • Hadronyche nimoola
  • Hadronyche orana
  • Hadronyche pulvinator
  • Hadronyche raveni
  • Hadronyche tambo
  • Hadronyche valida
  • Hadronyche venenata

Physical Description & Identification

Adults

Size: The spiders belonging to this family are medium or large with a body length ranging between 1 and 5 cm (0.4-2.0 inches).

Color: They may mostly be black or brown, though the shades may differ from one species to the other. The carapace of most of the species would appear shiny and glossy.

Other characteristics: They generally have a hairy carapace, while some species of this family, particularly the Australian Funnel Web possess long spinnerets. They even have sharp fangs that can penetrate between soft shoes as well as fingernails. The species of this family are also known to have several venom glands, lying inside their chelicerae or jaws.

Eggs

The egg sac is of the size of a golf ball, with each of them containing about 100 eggs on average.

Spiderlings

The spiderlings hatch in three weeks and remain for a while with their mother after which they disperse.

The Web

As the name suggests, their webs are funnel-shaped mostly used as burrows for trapping prey. The flat surface on their web helps in catching prey, whereas, the funnel-like tube would lead to their hiding place, which comprises of a burrow made from strands of silk.

Are the Species of Australian Web Spiders Poisonous and Do They Bite

Certain members are known to produce venom which could be harmful to humans. In fact, six species (Sydney funnel-web spider; northern and southern tree-dwelling funnel-web; Darling Downs funnel-web, Port Macquarie funnel web, and the Blue Mountains funnel-web) of this family are known to be potentially dangerous causing severe injuries.

Bites from these spiders are known to be extremely painful as they have large fangs which may penetrate deep into the skin. Some of the initial symptoms include goosebumps, twitching, increased heartbeat, and watery eyes, which would get intense with time.

There have been 13 documented fatalities (7 are children) from the bites of the Sydney funnel-web.

Quick Facts

LifespanWhile females may live up to 8 years, males thrive for a shorter span.
Distribution Throughout Australia
HabitatMoist and cool habitats like under rocks, hedges and rough-barked trees
Common PredatorsCentipedes, birds as well as small reptiles and mammals
Diet Cockroach, snail, beetles and small lizards

Did You Know

  • Carl Ludwig Koch described the first species of this family (Hadronyche cerberea) in the year 1873.
  • Dr. Struan Sutherland of Melbourne discovered the ┬áIgG antivenom that has helped to reduce the mortality rate of the bite from these spiders.