With the constant sound of Christmas songs playing on the radio (“It’s Christmas!!!” – Thanks Noddy, I almost forgot) you’d think for this Friday’s video post I’d have come up with something full of Christmas spirit.
No! They don’t call me Scrooge for nothing.
It may be cold and Christmassy where you are, but here in Australia we are in the height of summer, and it’s around this time of the year, October through to May, that one little black eight furry legged fiend can be found wandering around looking for a girlfriend.
The funnel web spider
Image source: Wikipedia
I suspect you’ve all heard of this tiny little killer, and maybe you know it by its full name ‘the Sydney funnel web spider’. But as the name suggests, he only hangs around Sydney and the surrounding area, so unless you live there, you’re safe.
I live here in Queensland, so I’m safe, right?
I should be so lucky, as another Aussie famously said.
I’ve heard there are something like 30 to 40 different species of funnel web spider here in Australia and, of course, they are only native to this country. Europe get a thing called a tube web spider, looks a bit similar, but its bite feels more like a bee sting and has no long-term effects.
Anyway, in addition to the more famous Sydney funnel web spider, here in Australia we also have the northern funnel web spider, the southern funnel web spider, the Blue Mountains funnel web spider, the Tasmanian funnel web spider, the Toowoomba funnel web spider, the Flinders funnel web spider, the Adelaide funnel web spider and we even have an Eyre Peninsular funnel web spider.
The list is longer than that, suffice to say we have more species of funnel web spiders than you could shake a stick at.
Summing up then, we have funnel web spiders in the following states or territories:
- New South Wales
- Australian Capital Territory
- South Australia
So, it’s not just Sydney, the funnel web spider is in every state or territory of Australia except two. Interestingly, they are Northern Territory, one of the places that DOES have crocodiles, and Western Australia, which is fast building a reputation as the deadliest place in the world for shark attacks.
Isn’t that funny?
Here in Queensland, we have seven known species and in Brisbane these spiders are known to hang around the foothills of Mount Coot-tha, which is pretty close to where I live. They can also be found around Daisy Hill Forest Park, Springwood, Capalaba, Kedron Brook and even in Newmarket which is only about 3 or 4 kilometres from the city.
Jingle bells indeed!
The female funnel web spider can lay around 100 eggs at a time, which then take just a few weeks to hatch. These spiders do not reach maturity until they’re about seven years old and can live as long as 20 years.
Well I’ll be Rudolph the red nosed reindeer!
There’s more…there is a rumour that these spiders can swim! Here’s that mad Doctor Mike Leahy again. This nutty Doctor is famous for allowing insects and other critters to bite him, but even he is not crazy enough to allow a funnel web spider that pleasure…
So, no, it can’t actually swim, but it can survive for a while in water thanks to all the bubbles that stick to its hairy legs. Doctor Mike made it sound a little like every pool has a funnel web waiting to pounce on the next swimmer, that’s not the case.
It always makes sense to check your pool before jumping in, and what you do have in there is easy enough to see and pull out with a net on a stick; leaves, maybe a dead fly here and there and perhaps a twig.
That’s normally about as dangerous as it gets.
The irony of it all is that the funnel webs venom is only lethal to us humans and primates, you know, me, you and monkeys. It’s sort of a freak of nature that his venom is so lethal to us, because a dead human (or monkey) is of no use to the funnel web spider. Their venom can kill within 15 minutes, but it may sometimes take as long as three days.
On a brighter note, cats and dogs and other animals are unaffected by their venom; chickens will actually eat this spider if it can catch one. Maybe that’s why so many Australians keep chickens in the yard?
And on an even brighter note, as I write this, nobody has died from a funnel web spider bite here in Australia since 1981, thanks to the introduction of antivenom.
Ho Ho Ho!
And finally, just to remind you that I really am not yet in the Christmas spirit, here is a rather X-rated video. It was posted by a YouTuber called mrrabbit10 who actually has another video where he says he had a funnel web spider run across his back. He then caught that spider and put it in a container to video it for YouTube.
This though, from the same guy, it’s not for the squeamish. When I say it’s not for the squeamish, I really mean it. This is the nastiest video on my entire website. Please don’t watch it if you are scared of spiders or you don’t like watching insects trying to kill and eat each other.
As mrrabbit10 himself says, “PLEASE do not watch if this offends you. i was not fighting insects, i was feeding a spider.”
There, I have warmed to you all. Now here’s the video, it looks great in full-screen HD…