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Mouse (Missulena)

The Mouse spider belongs to the mygalomorph genus of the Actinopodidae family. They have attained the name mouse spider because of the belief that deep burrows are dug by them just as mice, though this is disproven. These species are mostly found in Australia, though their presence is also recorded in Chile.

Mouse Spider

List of Spiders Belonging to the Genus

Missulena bradleyi Missulena leniae Missulena mainae
Missulena faulderi Missulena melissae Missulena torbayensis
Missulena dipsaca Missulena pinguipes  
Missulena granulosa Missulena occatoria  
Missulena hoggi Missulena pruinosa  
Missulena langlandsi Missulena rutraspina  
Missulena harewoodi Missulena reflexa  
Missulena insignis Missulena tussulena  
Male Mouse Spider

Physical Description and Identification

Adults

Size: 10 mm to 35 mm, medium to large in size

Color: Sexual dimorphism is noticed in terms of color. The coloration of the males differs from one species to the other. The males of the eastern mouse spider possess a patch of blue while the red-headed mouse species have a brown or bluish-black body with red-tinged jaws. The females, on the other hand, have a completely black body.

Other Characteristic Features:  The males have a slender appearance while the females are large and stocky. Other characteristic features of these species include a broad head, set high, a glossy carapace and eyes spreading out to the front part of their head. Their spinnerets are short, situated at the rear end of their abdomen.

Eggs

60 or more eggs are laid in an egg sac that is mostly round in shape.

Spiderlings

They hatch during summer, and after remaining with their mother for a while they disperse during autumn.

Female Mouse Spider

The Web

They spin silk for lining their burrows however, like other spider groups they do not weave elaborate webs for capturing preys.

Are Spiders of the Missulena Genus Poisonous and Do They Bite

The males and females possess large fangs with an aggressive demeanor that may bite only when provoked. Certain species of this genus like the Eastern mouse spider is said to have toxins in their venom that resemble the robustoxin present in the venom of the funnel web spider. The anti-venom used for treating the funnel web attacks is also said to be applicable in dealing with severe bites of this species. However, having said this, their bites are dry and these spiders are not too fierce with humans unlike the Australasian funnel-web, and records of their bites are also rare.

Mouse Spider Picture

Quick Facts

Distribution All through Australia, while a single species (Missulena tussulena) was found in Chile
Habitat Burrows which are covered with trapdoors
Predators Scorpions, bandicoots, wasps and centipedes
Diet Insects, small vertebrates like lizards and frogs as well as spiders 
Mouse Spider Fangs

Did You Know

  • Charles Athanase Walckenaer described this genus in the year 1805.
  • The name mouse spider is also shared by another species namely Scotophaeus blackwalli, indigenous to Britain as well as northern Europe, though this is different than this species. 

Image Credits: Media.australianmuseum.net.au, I.pinimg.com, Abc.net.au, Qmtalksscience.files.wordpress.com

The Mouse spider belongs to the mygalomorph genus of the Actinopodidae family. They have attained the name mouse spider because of the belief that deep burrows are dug by them just as mice, though this is disproven. These species are mostly found in Australia, though their presence is also recorded in Chile.

Mouse Spider

List of Spiders Belonging to the Genus

Missulena bradleyi Missulena leniae Missulena mainae
Missulena faulderi Missulena melissae Missulena torbayensis
Missulena dipsaca Missulena pinguipes  
Missulena granulosa Missulena occatoria  
Missulena hoggi Missulena pruinosa  
Missulena langlandsi Missulena rutraspina  
Missulena harewoodi Missulena reflexa  
Missulena insignis Missulena tussulena  
Male Mouse Spider

Physical Description and Identification

Adults

Size: 10 mm to 35 mm, medium to large in size

Color: Sexual dimorphism is noticed in terms of color. The coloration of the males differs from one species to the other. The males of the eastern mouse spider possess a patch of blue while the red-headed mouse species have a brown or bluish-black body with red-tinged jaws. The females, on the other hand, have a completely black body.

Other Characteristic Features:  The males have a slender appearance while the females are large and stocky. Other characteristic features of these species include a broad head, set high, a glossy carapace and eyes spreading out to the front part of their head. Their spinnerets are short, situated at the rear end of their abdomen.

Eggs

60 or more eggs are laid in an egg sac that is mostly round in shape.

Spiderlings

They hatch during summer, and after remaining with their mother for a while they disperse during autumn.

Female Mouse Spider

The Web

They spin silk for lining their burrows however, like other spider groups they do not weave elaborate webs for capturing preys.

Are Spiders of the Missulena Genus Poisonous and Do They Bite

The males and females possess large fangs with an aggressive demeanor that may bite only when provoked. Certain species of this genus like the Eastern mouse spider is said to have toxins in their venom that resemble the robustoxin present in the venom of the funnel web spider. The anti-venom used for treating the funnel web attacks is also said to be applicable in dealing with severe bites of this species. However, having said this, their bites are dry and these spiders are not too fierce with humans unlike the Australasian funnel-web, and records of their bites are also rare.

Mouse Spider Picture

Quick Facts

Distribution All through Australia, while a single species (Missulena tussulena) was found in Chile
Habitat Burrows which are covered with trapdoors
Predators Scorpions, bandicoots, wasps and centipedes
Diet Insects, small vertebrates like lizards and frogs as well as spiders 
Mouse Spider Fangs

Did You Know

  • Charles Athanase Walckenaer described this genus in the year 1805.
  • The name mouse spider is also shared by another species namely Scotophaeus blackwalli, indigenous to Britain as well as northern Europe, though this is different than this species. 

Image Credits: Media.australianmuseum.net.au, I.pinimg.com, Abc.net.au, Qmtalksscience.files.wordpress.com

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