Sydney Funnel-web Spiders step out for Spring

Sydney Funnel-web Spiders step out for Spring

#Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 01st October 2014 by Media Relations

Sydney is home to one of the world’s most venomous creatures, the Sydney Funnel-web Spider. As the weather warms so does your chance of encountering these typically underground dwellers.

Found within a 120 km radius of Sydney, most people go their whole life without seeing these spiders as they live beneath the surface in a funnel shaped web. Males draw females out by tapping the top of the web, causing the female to jump out expecting prey. A male Funnel-web holds the female back with a second pair of legs while mating, leaving quickly to avoid being eaten.

Despite their deadly reputation, Sydney Funnel-web Spiders do not actively attack or intimidate and just want to be left alone. When threatened these spiders show their red underside to send a clear message to stay away. 

When the humidity falls you may see Sydney Funnel-web Spiders near backyard pools in search of water. With lungs on the outside of their bodies, these spiders need water to survive when its dry, and can endure three days in water due to pockets of air near their bottom.

If you see a Sydney Funnel-web Spider in the dog’s bowl there’s no need to fret as their venom only affects primates, like humans. No one has suffered a fatal spider bite in the last 34 years.

It’s easy to live harmoniously with spiders. Simply slide a sheet of paper under it, pop a container over it and take it outside.

Taronga Zoo’s popular Spider Talk is on every day at 3pm.

10 things you may not know about Sydney Funnel-web Spiders

Sydney Funnel-web Spiders live underground, with white silk on the ground at the entrance of the web.

Female Funnel-web Spiders are rarely seen as they keep to their burrows below ground, only journeying outside to grab passing prey, like insects. 

Males roam in search of females, tapping the top of the web causing the female to jump up expecting prey. Males must mate quickly otherwise they risk being eaten.

Sydney Funnel-web Spiders are most active at night as days are typically too dry.

A Funnel-web Spider’s lungs are on the outside of the body, exposed to the air. They venture to bodies of water to keep hydrated and love humid weather.

Once in water, these Spiders can survive up to three days due to a pocket of air near their bottom that enables them to breathe.

Sydney Funnel-web Spiders are found within a 120 km radius of Sydney and are the most venomous of all 35 species of Australian Funnel-web Spiders.

Funnel-web Spider venom is toxic to humans, but there hasn’t been a fatality in 34 years. Animals are safe from harm.

Sydney Funnel-web Spiders smell through their feet.

Funnel-web Spiders can be gently dusted for mites as part of their hygiene regime.

Watch Taronga’s Grooming Tips for a Funnel-web Spider: