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.
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.
The egg sac is of the size of a golf ball, with each of them containing about 100 eggs on average.
The spiderlings hatch in three weeks and remain for a while with their mother after which they disperse.
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.
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.
|Lifespan||While females may live up to 8 years, males thrive for a shorter span.|
|Habitat||Moist and cool habitats like under rocks, hedges and rough-barked trees|
|Common Predators||Centipedes, birds as well as small reptiles and mammals|
|Diet||Cockroach, snail, beetles and small lizards|