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Mouse Spider (Missulena): Facts ,Identification & Pictures Mouse Spider (Missulena): Facts ,Identification & Pictures
Home / Actinopodidae Spiders / Mouse (Missulena)

Mouse (Missulena)

Mouse spiders are part of the big Actinopodidae spider family. Some people thought they dug burrows like mice, which is how they got their name. But that’s not really true. These spiders mainly live in Australia, but some have been found in Chile too. In this post, we’ll share interesting facts about the Mouse spider. Excited? Let’s go!

Scientific Classification

Male Mouse Spider

List of Spiders Belonging to the Genus

Missulena bradleyiMissulena leniaeMissulena mainae
Missulena faulderiMissulena melissaeMissulena torbayensis
Missulena dipsacaMissulena pinguipes 
Missulena granulosaMissulena occatoria 
Missulena hoggiMissulena pruinosa 
Missulena langlandsiMissulena rutraspina 
Missulena harewoodiMissulena reflexa 
Missulena insignisMissulena tussulena 
Female 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, and 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.

The Web

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

Are Mouse Spiders Venomous?

Yes, Mouse Spiders have venom. They use it to get their bug snacks. But for people, it’s not super strong or scary.

Can Mouse Spiders Bite?

Mouse Spiders can bite, but they’re usually quiet and keep to themselves. They’ll only bite if they’re really, really scared.

Mouse Spider Picture

Ecological Importance and Behavior of the Mouse Spider

Mouse Spiders are crucial to ecosystems, aiding soil aeration through burrowing and balancing populations by preying on insects and small vertebrates. Their role ensures environmental sustainability.

Natural Predator: Surviving in the Australian wilderness requires resilience. While the Mouse Spider is a formidable predator, it is not exempt from threats. Scorpions, bandicoots, wasps, and centipedes are known predators, maintaining the ecological equilibrium.

Prey-Predator Dynamics: Armed with short spinnerets and impressive fangs, the Mouse Spider has evolved to be an adept hunter, preferring a diet of insects, small vertebrates, and even other spiders. Their burrows serve as strategic ambush points, where they await unsuspecting prey. Their absence of an elaborate web underscores their predatory prowess.

Relationship with Humans: Mouse Spiders rarely interact with humans and are less aggressive despite their potent venom, similar to the dangerous funnel web spider. However, their rare bites can be painful, so caution is advised.

Quick Facts

DistributionAll through Australia, while a single species (Missulena tussulena) was found in Chile
HabitatBurrows that are covered with trapdoors
PredatorsScorpions, 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. 

Mouse spiders are part of the big Actinopodidae spider family. Some people thought they dug burrows like mice, which is how they got their name. But that’s not really true. These spiders mainly live in Australia, but some have been found in Chile too. In this post, we’ll share interesting facts about the Mouse spider. Excited? Let’s go!

Male Mouse Spider

List of Spiders Belonging to the Genus

Missulena bradleyiMissulena leniaeMissulena mainae
Missulena faulderiMissulena melissaeMissulena torbayensis
Missulena dipsacaMissulena pinguipes 
Missulena granulosaMissulena occatoria 
Missulena hoggiMissulena pruinosa 
Missulena langlandsiMissulena rutraspina 
Missulena harewoodiMissulena reflexa 
Missulena insignisMissulena tussulena 
Female 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, and 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.

The Web

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

Are Mouse Spiders Venomous?

Yes, Mouse Spiders have venom. They use it to get their bug snacks. But for people, it’s not super strong or scary.

Can Mouse Spiders Bite?

Mouse Spiders can bite, but they’re usually quiet and keep to themselves. They’ll only bite if they’re really, really scared.

Mouse Spider Picture

Ecological Importance and Behavior of the Mouse Spider

Mouse Spiders are crucial to ecosystems, aiding soil aeration through burrowing and balancing populations by preying on insects and small vertebrates. Their role ensures environmental sustainability.

Natural Predator: Surviving in the Australian wilderness requires resilience. While the Mouse Spider is a formidable predator, it is not exempt from threats. Scorpions, bandicoots, wasps, and centipedes are known predators, maintaining the ecological equilibrium.

Prey-Predator Dynamics: Armed with short spinnerets and impressive fangs, the Mouse Spider has evolved to be an adept hunter, preferring a diet of insects, small vertebrates, and even other spiders. Their burrows serve as strategic ambush points, where they await unsuspecting prey. Their absence of an elaborate web underscores their predatory prowess.

Relationship with Humans: Mouse Spiders rarely interact with humans and are less aggressive despite their potent venom, similar to the dangerous funnel web spider. However, their rare bites can be painful, so caution is advised.

Quick Facts

DistributionAll through Australia, while a single species (Missulena tussulena) was found in Chile
HabitatBurrows that are covered with trapdoors
PredatorsScorpions, 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.