Australia is well known for its over 2000 different types of species of spiders. Most of there species come from the eastern and southern regions of Australia. In the Sydney area, there are two in types in particular that you should look out for. These are the Sydney Funnel-web (also know as Atrax robustus) and the Redback (Latrodectus hasselti).
Funnel Web Spider
The Sydney Funnel-web is probably the most notorious and have a very fearsome reputation. If these spiders are threatened, they show very aggressive behavior, including rearing and displaying their fangs. These spiders also have one of the most toxic venoms of any spiders. The male spiders of this species can wonder into backyards and fall into swimming pools, where they have been know to be able to survive many hours. These spiders can also sometimes enter houses and get trapped.
Funnel-web spiders burrow under logs and rocks where they can find a cool and humid climate. Funnel-webs prey usually consists of beetles, cockroaches, and small lizards or snails.
What to Look For
These Funnel-web spiders are dark brown to black, and very shinny. Males have large mating spur projecting from the middle of their second pair of legs. Males tend to leave their burrows to wander over the summer and autumn to find females to mate with.
Funnel-web bites can be very dangerous and first aid should be given immediately. Usually using the pressure of a bandage while the victim is taken to the hospital and given anti-venom if necessary. The venom has a neurotoxin component that attacks the human nervous system, and in the most extreme cases, can result in death. Fortunately, there have been no fatal cases since the introduction of antivenom in 1980.
The second spider to look out for is the Redback. These spiders are practically harmless, but are very plentiful in Australia. The Redback venom contains neurotoxins, but it also works very slowly. Since the anti-venom was discovered in 1956, no body has died from a Redback bite. Hundreds of bites are reported each year but less than 30 percent require anti-venom treatment.
What to Look For
The adult female is usually 2-3 cm long, very black, and has a very distinctive red stripe on its abdomen. The males tend to be much smaller and considered less harmful. The juvenile spiders usually have a more elaborate pattern, including lateral stripes.
The bite is usually immediately painful. Sweating is common on the infected limb. Some other side effects usually include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, pyrexia, hypertension and in severe cases, paralysis. If the bite is untreated, the symptoms can worsen in a 24 hour period. If the bite continues to go untreated, relieving symptoms can still be effective in relieving symptoms for up to 10 days after the bite.
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