What It’s Really Like to Be Bitten by a Redback Spider

I think you know what’s coming. But before that, an important message.

I realise that some of you may have found this page because you have just been bitten by a Redback Spider and you want to know what to do. You are looking for urgent medical advice.

Here it is…

Redback Spider First Aid AdviseOn with the post. This is the story of when I was bitten, what it was like and why I didn’t go to hospital. I did seek medical advice though, speaking to a doctor and you will be able to read the advice I was given.

Finally, in the comments below you will find stories from many people who have been bitten by the redback and how it was for them.

The Australian Redback Spider

One of Australia’s most feared spiders is the Redback. Just before I moved here to Australia, one of my friends back in the UK who had lived and worked in Australia for a year at some point, told me that Redbacks were so strong and powerful that they could actually bite your foot through your thongs. (That’s flip-flops to us English).

Dave, you were talking twaddle!

But what is it really like to be bitten by a Redback Spider? The chances of finding out are quite remote, most sources quote around 2,000 Redback bites occur in Australia each year. So by my maths I would have a one in 10,000 chance of finding out.

Lucky, lucky me……… On Saturday, I found out!

So here’s what happened. On Saturday at around four o’clock in the afternoon, as the sun was getting cooler, I decided to do a bit of tidying up in the garden. It’s autumn here and a perfect time for trimming back the weeds and the overgrowth just ahead of winters dry weather.

By about a 5:45 PM I’d finished chopping off all the excess growths and I was picking up all of my trimmings in large bunches, carrying them up the driveway and throwing them all into one big pile. It was getting quite dark so I couldn’t really see much.

All of a sudden, whilst transporting one of these bunches I became aware of intense pain in the back of my wrist. The pain grew quite fast and although I have never hammered a nail into any part of my body, this was how I imagined it would feel.

As the pain grew even more, I decided to go in doors and take a look at it under the light. This is what I saw……

redback biteNothing!

Well, if anything, a very very tiny barely visible white mosquito bite like bump was all I could see. But the area around the pain was starting to look red and flushed.

Then it started to sweat, but just in that little circle where the pain was, nowhere else. I’ve never seen anything like it. I took a shower…….. that’s just something I like to do now and then…… and I washed off all the sweat at the same time. But out of the shower after having dried myself, I watched as the beads of sweat formed another circle around the back of my wrist again.

But by now the intense nail penetration like pain of before was fading, which was good news. But that pain was being replaced by a new, burning pain, which was bad news. But given the choice though, I preferred the burning.

Intrigued, I decided I would ask Google Australia what had bitten me, so I searched for “identify bite sweat” because for me, the localised sweating was the identifying factor. And that’s when I discovered that most of my search results led to the Redback Spider bite.

“Can’t be,” I thought “those things kill!” (Well, they haven’t since 1956.)

The more I read about the Redback bite, the more likely it seemed that it was a Redback that bit me.

  • Bites occur typically when the spider is disturbed in the garden or shed. (Tick)
  • The initial bite may not be felt. (Tick)
  • Puncture marks are not always visible. (Tick)
  • Local intense pain follows after about five minutes. (Tick, probably, I didn’t feel the bite remember.)
  • Localised sweating often occurs around the bite. (Tick)
  • May cause a burning sensation. (Tick)

By now it was around 6:30 PM and many of the websites I had visited advised anyone bitten to seek immediate medical attention. But I was feeling just fine and to be truthful, the pain subsided and was now really quite manageable. My only symptom was still the red flushing, some burning and the 2 inch circle of sweaty and very sticky skin.

But I had also read in my research that the Redback Spider’s venom was very slow acting and took a long time to find its way around your body. I didn’t like the idea of turning green and warty at midnight and thinking “Dang! I should have got some antivenom.” So I telephoned my doctor who was very helpful last time we had an emergency out of hours.

My Doctors Advice

He was out but his wife (also a doctor) answered the phone and she was very helpful. Here’s what she had to say….

Lots of people get bitten by Redback Spiders and for most it is not a problem. It is only a very small minority who suffer a reaction and if it is going to happen, it will happen within around three hours. So the next couple of hours are critical. If you suffer from palpitations, nausea, vomiting, headaches, difficulty breathing, abdominal pains or a fever any time before 9 PM, get yourself to a hospital. We don’t carry the antivenom here at our local surgery.

Take an antihistamine tablet if you have one, use an ice pack to ease the pain if you want to and drink plenty of water.

Well I didn’t take an antihistamine, I didn’t use an ice pack but I did take some of her advice about drinking plenty of water. When I say “some”, I took note of the “drink plenty” part and ignored the “of water”. I hit the beer fridge!

Well, that’s what happened when I got bitten by a Redback Spider. Was it a Redback? Well, just after I came off of the phone to the doctor, Beninoz and his family arrived. We were having a slap up a pizza together. Yum!

Before I told him anything of my research, I showed him the bite and asked him what he thought it was. “Redback” was his answer. The next day I spoke to Lisa, a born and bred Aussie who was bitten by a Redback when she was a little girl.

Did you get the burning? Did you get the intense pain? Was there no sign of an actual bite? Sounds like a Redback to me.” was her verdict.

Medical disclaimer!

I can never be 100% certain it was a Redback bite, but I would say I am 90% sure. For me, it was nowhere near as bad as I would have thought it would be. Getting bitten by a Redback Spider would have ranked really high on my list of things NOT to do. Now that it has happened, well, it wasn’t so bad.

Maybe I’m just lucky I’m not one of the minority who react badly, maybe my Redback was just a tiny little Redback, maybe my Redback got brushed off of my wrist before she had finished envenomation, or maybe my Redback wasn’t a Redback at all.

Either way, my experience wasn’t that bad. But according to my research, around 250 Redback Spider antivenom are administered each year here in Australia. So it sounds to me like over 10% of those bitten do react badly and will need medical attention, which is what many websites recommend that you seek. Which is, I suppose, what I did, having phoned my doctor.

So I am not going against the advice given in any other website, I’m just letting you know what happened to me. If it had been my daughter who was bitten, she’d have been straight off to hospital. But I will say that the Redback Spider bite, for some, may well not be anywhere near as bad as you thought it would be.

If you’ve been bitten by a Redback Spider, I’d love to hear if you think it was a Redback that bit me. What was your experience like? There’s no need to register, just enter your comment below.

Did anything else happen on Saturday? Yes, actually it did. And this event really should have ended in death. But I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

redback spider

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Update: December 2013

Redback Spider antivenom doesn’t work!

Yes, apparently it’s true. We had a comment from Jenn below (19th of December 2013) who had been bitten by a Redback Spider and despite being in some quite obvious trouble, the doctors treating her did not use antivenom.

They gave her steroids, antihistamines, she was put on a nebuliser and I believe also given adrenaline. But no antivenom. This surprised me so I did a little research, and found an article from just last month by ABC News.

That’s comforting, isn’t it? It will be interesting to see how this one develops.

Update: March 2014

Not so fast! Let’s get a second opinion on this from a doctor who has treated many envenomated patients over the years. See what he has to say in my post…

Update: May 2014

There was one more question I wished I had asked in the above-mentioned interview, but I forgot. It’s a question that has also been raised and answered in the comments below, but it would have been lovely to have got the opinion of an expert such as Professor Julian White.

Fortunately for me I got a second chance, and you can read the answer by visiting the following post…

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{ 328 comments… add one }
  • Daniel October 14, 2016, 1:12 am | Link

    Hello!

    I was bitten on the calf twice by a juvenile female redback on October 8th around 2pm. It’s now almost 2am on October 14th.

    I didn’t get the sweat circle but did get intense localized pain and could hardly tell there was a bite to begin with, visually. The pain seems to be lessening daily in intensity and frequency, but my god it itches badly sometimes, particularly whilst sleeping, if my tiredness upon waking is anything to go by (probably gets hot and scratched in my sleep and have noticed I have woken up scratching my calf).

    Although I didn’t get initial sweat, the bite area sometimes gets clammy, which is a strange feeling. Probably from the localized rash.

    I have been taking antihistamines daily which helps a bit, and using ice packs when needed, to relieve the itch.

    Hoping it buggers off soon. Not sure what else to use to relieve the itching.

    So unless you develop symptoms within 8 – 10 hours, there is a very good chance you are going to be absolutely fine, albeit very annoyingly inconvenienced for maybe a week or two.

    • BobinOz October 14, 2016, 8:59 pm | Link

      Quite a few people have mentioned the itchiness, although strangely I did not get that. I did get the clammy feeling though, and for some reason I felt compelled to keep touching it to see how clammy it was. I don’t know why.

      The itching does sound very annoying though, well I know it can be, I get it from mozzie bites. Sounds like you are getting over the worst of it though, and I hope you make a full recovery very soon.

  • Kay August 6, 2016, 8:23 pm | Link

    I also have been bitten by something that I am guessing is a red back on the shin of my right leg. I felt the one small bite and another slightly stronger one at the time but just slapped the leg of my jeans and was aware of the pain but didn’t check or dwell on it as was busy at the time. Site felt sore but not too bad but 3 nights later I woke with intense pain in site of bigger bite. Then noticed swelling and red rash on inside of my knee. Took pain killers and rubbed voltaren on knee as thought I had injured my knee.
    Now two weeks later the nerve pain in and around my knee can be intense. This varies from manageable to extreme pain on putting pressure on knee when walking. Dr. Didn’t think it was the bite so went to orthopaedic dr and he did think it is the bite as there appears to be no problem in my bone. Would like to know if this is red back spider and how much longer will this go on?

    • BobinOz August 7, 2016, 9:27 pm | Link

      It doesn’t sound like a redback spider bite to me, not by my experience of it or of the many people who have written about their experiences with this here.

      Most people do not feel the bite when it happens, the pain usually kicks in within minutes rather than days and there is usually a red sticky patch around the site of the bite, but no bite marks.

      So, my guess would be not a redback, but I don’t know what it was though. Hopefully somebody else reading this might be able to give you a clue, but either way, I hope the pain goes away quickly.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Sister M. Assumpta June 16, 2016, 2:55 pm | Link

    Ok – We know Suggestion is a powerful thing & the human imagination is a grand thing or just plain weird. Apparently you can take the Aussie Girl out of OZ but can’t take fear of OZ Redbacks out of the Girl. I haven’t seen a Redback in more than 40 yrs, I’m sitting in our Convent office on the Pacific West Coast in Canada, pretty sure there is not even a Daddy Longlegs lurking under the pile of paperwork on the desk yet my skin is crawling, I’m sliding into flight mode, & fighting an urge to get a broom & turn everything over then stomp on every last one of the Redbacks that I am sure fell out of your Bloomin’ Blog Posts!!! Over 40 yrs I have been happily lulled into a Franciscan Flower Child during my years in beautiful BC – I’ve learned to gently take spiders outdoors. For 2 yrs I watched a Wolf-faced Orb Spider spin her amazing web in the same place above the marigolds on the side of the house & would not let anyone remove her. I watched her double in size, about the size of a Nickle & snapped her with my Smart Phone -she did not return this Spring, 2 yrs is a good lifespan for an Orb Spider. Like most Canadians she was a polite “Have a nice day” lady bothering no one & keeping the bug population down. Now all that lovely warm-love-all-creatures-fuzziness has been jeopardized all because I scrolled through the Posts on this Blog. I have now mentally reverted to the Spider – stomping Terminator I was trained to be as an Aussie child in the unenlightened Fifties. How on earth did I get on this site? Oh yeah – looking for stats on Croc attacks. Obviously I need my time on Online to be restricted. Thankfully it is time for meditation, Night Prayer & Silence so I have to go – but wait! What may be lurking in the Chapel! The bedrooms! Our lush garden!AAARRRRGGHHHH!!! You have much to answer for, BobinOZ Bloggers. Be you Catholic or not my next Post will be to assign you a suitable penance when I’ve had time to ponder on it. For now hang your heads & repeat, “Mea Culpa.”
    Peace, Sister GMA

    • BobinOz June 17, 2016, 6:33 pm | Link

      Well, I hope, at the very least, that you found the information you are looking for about croc attacks 🙂 even if it has been at such cost.

      It was lucky you didn’t find my page about the funnel-web spider.

      Peace be with you Sister, peace be with you.

  • Andrew Plant June 11, 2016, 8:38 pm | Link

    Hi all. Having survived unbitten by a spider in Australia for 55 years, finally got fanged a couple of months ago in the garden. Like many, didn’t see the spider, so with the help of my medical scientist wife and Dr. Google, 99% sure it was a red back. No visible bite, intense, immediate pain, but completely localised to the top joint of the bitten finger tip, no systemic reaction whatsoever, except unable to sleep till 3am – the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. The localisation was most strange. Other bites and stings I’ve had (quite a few – it is Australia, after all!) all had a wider area of pain, and always a distinct spot where the fangs/sting went in. So the lack of mark and local intense burning pain seem to be the features common to other victims that would suggest it was a red back rather than some other arachnid/centipede/insect. If my young daughter had been bitten, I would have called the ambulance, but for most adults it just seems to be an interesting 6 hours. I’ve also been bitten by an otter, but that is not something that visitors to Oz need be overly concerned about!

    • BobinOz June 13, 2016, 4:24 pm | Link

      Yes, sounds very much like a redback spider bite, it has all of the tell-tale signs. Like you say as well, for the vast majority of people it is nothing more than a quite painful period of time.

      For the unlucky minority though, and we’ve had plenty of those comment here, it can be significantly worse, ranging from long-lasting pain to, in some cases, a severe reaction to the bite.

      I was one of the lucky ones, sounds like you were too. By the way, congratulations on getting bitten by an otter, that’s quite impressive!

      Cheers, Bob

      • Andrew Plant July 24, 2016, 7:21 pm | Link

        Yes, it’s tricky getting bitten by an otter in Australia, especially in Adelaide. Ok, it was at the zoo, and I was 6, and wanted to pat the cute animal despite the sign indicating they were on restricted diets. The long term effects include a nice scar between my thumb and forefinger, and a lifetime of referring to Savlon as ‘otter-bite cream’.
        I could tell you about my Argentinian bot fly episode ….
        Cheers,
        Andrew.

        • BobinOz July 24, 2016, 9:19 pm | Link

          Well, you’ve only got yourself to blame for that one. Fancy ignoring the warning sign! What were you thinking? 🙂

          If it’s all the same to you, I will pass on your Argentinian bot fly story, I’m about to eat.

  • Kozette June 6, 2016, 6:47 am | Link

    Can you please tell me the long term health issues that can be caused by a red back spider bite if not treated by antivenin?

    • BobinOz June 6, 2016, 6:09 pm | Link

      Well, I would if I could but I just don’t know them, and I’m not sure that anybody really does. Everybody seems to be affected in different ways, and if you read through these comments, you will see quite a few people have mentioned long-term issues following a spider bite from one of these things.

      I don’t even think being treated with antivenin can guarantee there will be no long-term effects. Having said that, I think for the vast majority of people once the pain has gone they have no further problems. That still leaves a significant number of people who do though.

  • Tina May 27, 2016, 11:20 am | Link

    Can anyone help me out there I was in the garden I tipped an old plant out & it was full of red backs which i gladly killed I didn’t feel any pain a week later yes a week I have such pain & swelling just above the ankle the doctors just don’t know one suggested a bite of some sort the other suggested adema I’m left in pain bad swelling &burning igo away on holiday soon everything is paid I just don’t know what to do can anyone help me out there please

    • Maria May 27, 2016, 4:40 pm | Link

      Hello Tina. I too had a nasty redback encounter (you can read my post if you scroll down to 17 Dec 2015) Just wondering though, if your symptoms ARE actually from a redback bite, as the pain from one is usually instant – like a sharp sting at first, then increases in intensity. You said how you didn’t feel any pain – was that at the time, but then it took a week for the symptoms to appear ?? In my experience, there was a red patch at the site of the bite (about the size of 10c piece), followed soon after by sort of like little goosebumps.

      Strange that the doctors don’t even know what it is. Hope you get better soon, and get to go on holiday. In the meantime try elevating your foot, using coldpacks and strong pain relief. If it WAS a redback bite (and not oedema), you will eventually recover, but it will take “time”. Good Luck !

      • BobinOz May 27, 2016, 11:32 pm | Link

        Like Maria, I don’t think this is anything to do with those redback spiders. If you had been bitten it would have been painful at the time and as Maria says, you get that red sticky patch around the bite. I think something else is going on here, hopefully your doctor will work out what it is.

  • David April 25, 2016, 9:38 am | Link

    Hi,

    I can honestly say that I haven’t seen many redbacks here in my suburban Adelaide yard for years! Used to see them all the time when I was a kid. Gotta be honest I hate the little buggers. Pain is not something I get along with too well.

    • ian April 25, 2016, 11:37 am | Link

      If you have a tidy yard, you will likely not see them. I have a rather messy yard with a fair bit of clutter and I still see them here (Adelaide), though perhaps not as often as I used to. Is it possible houses are more tidy these days, therefore keeping their numbers down?

      • BobinOz April 25, 2016, 5:45 pm | Link

        I’ve been here in Brisbane for over eight years, still haven’t actually seen one that I know of for sure. I may have seen one in my house when I first moved in, the house had been empty for five months, but I can’t guarantee it really was a redback spider.

        Even when I was bitten by a redback I didn’t see it, but maybe that says more about how unobservant I am than how many redbacks we have here. I think it’s fair to say we are not overrun with them though.

  • Catriona Daly April 13, 2016, 3:20 pm | Link

    http://gu.com/p/4t9d4/sbl

    Man dies from red back spider bite

    • BobinOz April 13, 2016, 11:39 pm | Link

      Thanks for the link, it’s a scary and very tragic story. I’ve read a few articles on this one, no one has stated whether or not this young man received antivenom, or whether the severe abscess he was being treated for in hospital for four days was as a result of the spider bite.

      There is also the added complication that he was involved in a motor accident not long before this happened. I think we will all have to wait for the full coroners report before we will know whether or not the cause of death was actually directly attributable to the redback spider.

      Very sad though, he was such a young lad.

  • Thomas field March 1, 2016, 6:08 am | Link

    A lot of time I’ve been woken up with my foot burning allways one foot and even wearing shoe’s actually with shoe’s on the burning was worse I was kept awake for months tortured actually someone must know what is doing this am I sleeping on top of a spider nest and it knows when I’m asleep or is this a human saddist I’m in the process of cleaning up all the spiders I’ve seen one ‘s 40cm round as I caught it on camerra and others big ones that carry around sacks full of baby one ‘s. I saw about four of those ones I got rid of my bed but I think their are still some in my flat and I believe that saddist put them there on purpose I have suspected it’s a spider bite for a long time but now I believe it’s something eles could you please help me with this

    • BobinOz March 1, 2016, 4:32 pm | Link

      I wish I could help but I think I’m even more bewildered than you are. Hope you sort out though, Bob

  • Brett February 15, 2016, 5:21 pm | Link

    Hey Bob
    I was bitten on the 14/2/2016 twice once on the ribs and once on the inside of my arm at first nothing the BANG intense stinging and burning couldn’t touch both areas jump in shower pain went away for a bit then hit me again with sweating and dizzy got ice pack help the pain the only thing that did at first not a wink of sleep.All day today spraying tea tree and ice packs but still burning and stinging now almost a day later hope to get some sleep tonight but reading some of the other comments not like my chance’s lol

    • BobinOz February 16, 2016, 4:16 pm | Link

      Well I hope you did manage to get some decent sleep Brett, although I suspect you have probably had a difficult night. Hope the pain passes quickly. Cheers, Bob

  • shelley January 15, 2016, 10:40 am | Link

    I got bitten about an hour ago. Came to our local Edu and they took my temp and pulse and now waiting to see a doctor.
    I had an intense stinging at the bite site initially. Poured vinigar over my hand (bitten on thumb). I didnt see the spider (sprayed the hell out of my office though so hopefully its a dead un now). Profuse sweating at sight to start with but thats now stopped and not really feeling any pain. Maybe its not a redback?

    • BobinOz January 15, 2016, 10:14 pm | Link

      Hmm. Maybe not. For me, there wasn’t really a bite mark, but a coin-sized red circle that was sticky and sweaty. That did not go away for quite some time. From what I have looked into, and from the many comments here, I think that is one of the key tell-tale signs of a redback spider bite.

      That said, it could have been a redback, but maybe it did not inject very much venom. In which case I reckon you may already be over the worst. How are you now?

  • Michael January 11, 2016, 10:07 am | Link

    Hi bob, i got bitten last night at 1am by a huge female which had decided to join me in bed.
    I felt something crawl across my arm a couple of times and just brushed it off, being a hot night in sydney i thought it was probably a moth or something, i rolled over and started feeling a burning sensation in my shoulder, having been in the sun yesterday i thought i must be sunburnt. As it got worse i thought i better turn the light on and loot at it., turn the light on and there a huge redback on the mattress where i was lying.

    Anyway, called poisons hotline and was told to use ice packs and take pain killers and see what happens.
    The pain got progressively worse for the first 3 hours, fairly manageable with ice packs and panadeine fortes.
    Its pretty much stayed at the same level since then and its now 10 hrs later.
    I have found if i keep the arm where i was bitten immobilised it lowers the pain a lot.
    Ive read a lot of these posts so i will see how i go and post if i get any of other symptoms.

    • BobinOz January 11, 2016, 7:25 pm | Link

      Seems we’re not even safe in our own beds!

      Well, if you haven’t had an allergic reaction by now, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to get one. So it sounds like for you it’s all down to pain management and those pills and ice packs seem to be doing a good job.

      Hope all the pain goes away soon, cheers, Bob

    • Michael January 13, 2016, 10:02 am | Link

      Update.
      Well turns out I spoke to soon. about an hour after writing my original post I started feeling more unwell so decided to book in to see a doctor, the doctor checked me out and pretty much said wait and see what happens.
      By that night I had begun shaking and both my legs where sweating profusely from below the knees. so I went to emergency and they admitted me.
      I spent the next 2 days in hospital, with cold sweats and intense pain through both my legs, abdomen and lower back. they gave me progressively stronger pain killers.
      at the worst of it I was on endone, panadeine, ibuprofen and prgabalin.
      they even tried morphine Intraveniously.
      none of this completely removed the pain but dulled it enough for me to cope with.
      anyway I feel like ive turned a corner last night and feel better today, although I am still taking 3 different painkillers.
      Probably the biggest tip I could give to anyone else who gets a full envenomation like me is Hot Showers.I would just lie in there for 20-30mins at a time, It was the main thing that got me through and gave me more relief than any of the painkillers did.

      • BobinOz January 14, 2016, 12:07 am | Link

        Wow, that’s a bit of a shock!

        Normally this kind of reaction happens within 2 to 3 hours, that was my understanding anyway. It’s also what my doctor advised. I’m pretty sure most people who have had a bad reaction and have commented here also had it happen within a few of hours.

        You looked like you were going to be okay, and then well over 10 hours later you get the cold sweats. That said, you haven’t had a full anaphylactic shock or allergic reaction requiring antivenom, it’s more a case of a significant increase in pain after a long period of time.

        One thing I have realised from all these comments here is that every redback spider bite seems to be different, some are forgotten within a few hours, others can cause problems for a few years. What’s happened to you is another example of how different these bites can be.

        Hope you make a full recovery soon, thanks for the update, Bob

  • Maria December 17, 2015, 12:06 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, I was bitten on 22 Nov 2015 at 9.15pm, by a large female redback,on the top of my foot, as I was putting my slippers on, in the Bathroom. I killed the spider, and took it with me (for positive identification) in the Ambulance to Hospital, where I was given 1 Nurofen & 1 Endone, a Tetanus shot, and an ice-pack, and monitored for 4 hrs to see if my symptoms worsened. Doctor was reluctant to give antivenom.

    Discharged 1.30am, given information sheets on spiders,and told to come back if the pain gets worse. Well it did – not a wink of sleep that night due to unbearable pain – the worst I have ever experienced.
    My foot was swollen ,red and burning, felt like it was on FIRE. !!!!

    Went to G.P. next day, prescribed Endone 5mg, 6 hrly, but the pain relief began to wear off after 3 hrs. Back to E.D. at Hosp 4 days later at 5.45am (1 hr. sleep night before). Dr increased my pain medication to 16 tabs day ( 3 different meds) including slow-release narcotic analgesics (Targin 5mg) plus Endone, if needed for break-through pain. These, and the icepacks helped give me some pain relief.
    Couldn’t move my toes for days, as they were paralysed from the venom.
    Got around with the aid of crutches for 8 days.

    Several days later it got itchy, but I found Animine lotion helped relieve it.
    Another symptom I had was hypersensitivity. Even the slightest brush against my foot resulted in an intense stinging sensation, couldn’t even stand any bedcovering on it.

    It took 10 days for the swelling to go down, easing the pain. After I finished the first lot of Targin 5mg, my G.P. weaned me onto 1/2 strength dosage for 1 week.

    It has taken 3 and a half weeks for the pain and stiffness to go, and for total movement to come back in my toes. Not quite fully recovered yet due to some lingering aches and pains, around the left hip area, but hoping they will resolve soon.

    • BobinOz December 17, 2015, 8:34 pm | Link

      Those pesky redbacks are certainly out in force at the moment, we’ve had quite a few reports come through in the last three or four weeks. Sounds like that redback nailed your foot pretty bad!

      I think doctors are very reluctant to give antivenom and for good reason, some people do react badly to it. I also think suffering immense pain, as you have, is vastly different from suffering a reaction which can lead to nausea, vomiting and breathing problems among other things.

      Glad to hear that it sounds as though you are well over the worst, and that you managed to get through it with the help of some rather hefty pain relief. Look on the bright side; you hurt it more than it hurt you 🙂

      Hope you recover fully soon.

  • Mick December 16, 2015, 8:17 am | Link

    I woke up at 1am on the Monday just gone to a severe pain in my left inner thigh right up where it joins the torso. It kind of felt like a soft tissue injury but there was no external signs of any damage to that area.

    I managed to sleep on and off for three hours and got up at 4am. At that time I noticed a minor irritation on my knee which my girlfriend said looked like a bite mark. We then looked up and saw a redback spider on the roof. I can’t be 100% sure it was a redback but all the symptoms were there, minor irritation around actual bite, sweat around the bite site, pain in other parts of the body.

    After a few more hours of no sleep I drove home and popped some paracetamol and codeine tablets and spent the day feeling sorry for myself on the couch. By this stage both legs were in pain especially the soles of both feet and both legs were sweating even though nowhere else on my body was. I had some back pain and minor chest pain but most of the pain was concentrated in the legs. I found a hot bath gave temporary relief to take my mind off the pain for a bit.

    My mother is a pharmacist so she consulted a book she has to determine the recommended course of action to take for a redback bite. Other than what has already been mentioned above it recommends the doctor prescribe painkillers such as paracetamol/codeine or an opiate. Being in severe pain I made an appointment at the local clinic with a view to securing some oxycodone tablets so I could get to sleep. The doctor there had never seen a redback bite before and recommended I go straight to the hospital. She did not consult any medical journals or texts. I did not have nausea, whole body sweats and had not vomited even once. She gave me absolutely no advice consistent with what you can Google yourself on the internet. All the bad words in the English Language are not sufficient to describe how much I detest this particular doctor. A GP is only as good as his/her experience but if you don’t know then look it up! This is a valuable lesson to find a doctor you are happy with and pay the extra money if you have to. Don’t be tight-arse like me and wander off to any old bulk billing clinic.

    Luckily that night my sister came over with 3 oxycodone tablets she had left over from a previous ailment. Without those and alprazolam I would not have had any sleep for the next two nights. That night I woke every 30mins to 1 hour covered in sweat (by now my whole body was sweating, not just my legs). I had 5-10 showers that night.

    The next day and night were pretty much the same, except I woke up less frequently and only had 2-3 showers during the night.

    It’s now 9am on Wednesday, so 2 days and 8 hours after symptoms were first felt. There is still pain in my feet but far less than yesterday. The whole body sweats seem to have stopped. I think the worst is behind me.

    • BobinOz December 16, 2015, 10:35 pm | Link

      Well, from everything you say it certainly does sound as though it was a redback spider bite. The sweat mark, the pain and most of all sore feet. So many people have mentioned sore feet following a redback bite, it’s very common.

      If your doctor has never come across a redback bite before, we can only assume she’s not been practising in this country very long. I agree with you entirely, if you don’t like your doctor, move on to another one. Pay a little extra if you have too. Sounds like that’s what you’ll be doing soon.

      Anyway, glad to hear your symptoms are easing, hopefully you’ll be all back to normal by the end of the week and by the time you’ll be playing with your toys at Christmas, this will all be behind you.

  • ian December 11, 2015, 1:08 am | Link

    This sounds like no fun at all, a bite from a Redback! Just thought of a bit of advice that might help in some situations. I’ve noticed over the years that spiders and bugs natural reaction seems to be to ‘drop’ when they find themselves up against a large moving object. If you ever feel a strange living thing in the shirt you’ve just put on, resist the temptation to feel or squash with your hand, and just shake the item of clothing to allow it to drop out. I know that Redbacks and White-tails do this, and probably most things do.

    My theory is that most things react badly to pain. Once, I felt something disturbing at the end of the sock I just put on. I tried to suppress utter panic, and calmly (but fast) I gently surrounded that part of the sock with my fingers and extracted my foot. Then if you can imagine, I kind of peeled the sock opening back up around my arm, to reveal the awful truth – a white tailed spider with just a bit of sock between it and my fingers! I don’t believe the myths about them but it still freaked me out. Point being, I didn’t hurt it in any way and didn’t get bitten… just something to keep in mind.

    • BobinOz December 11, 2015, 8:49 pm | Link

      I kind of agree with your advice here, although it is not always easy to implement. I remember a while back I felt something crawling around inside my T-shirt so I just quickly stood up, took my T-shirt off and then just shook it out on the floor. A wasp dropped out, looking a bit dazed, but he flew off no problem.

      He was probably just looking for a way out and because I didn’t squished him in any way, he didn’t feel the need to attack me. Maybe, anyway.

      On the other hand, when I was bitten by a redback spider I didn’t even see it, so nothing I could do about that one at all. But other than that, yes I agree, the toughest part is probably mastering how not to panic 🙂

  • Peter S November 24, 2015, 5:14 am | Link

    Sunday Nov 22nd, 11am – the day you go to the shed, put on your welding jacket to do a quick 2 minute repair. The jacket has leather sleeves and I wear leather gloves. I’d just finished the job and wondered “ouch”, how did welding sparks get through the leather gloves and leather sleeves. So I pulled the gear off and a huge redback fell out of my sleeve.
    Within a minute I could see 2 little white marks on my wrist, a few mm apart with flare reaction around it, but really not much pain. I spoke to ‘nurse on call’ who said go to the hospital if I have vomiting or breathing difficulty. I placed an ice pack. The pain got steadily worse for about 6 hours. Sweating over the bite area, unremitting burning pain. Panadol and ibuprofen didn’t make any difference. I had some oxycodone (endone) left over from some surgery a month ago, and took a tablet at bed time – that helped a bit – enough to get 3 hours sleep.
    All day yesterday (Nov 23rd) – slight reduction in pain, but still too painful to do anything useful. Still sweating over a 10cm diameter area over the bite site. Pain radiating from fingers and to shoulder, muscle spasms in the lower arm. Last night started getting a painful tingling sensation in both hands and both feet and ankles, and slightly swollen lymph nodes in groin, and less than 2 hours sleep. So about 40 hours after the bite, the really intense burning pain has gone, but there’s still a very painful ‘ache’ in my arm that panadol doesn’t touch.

    • BobinOz November 30, 2015, 8:46 pm | Link

      That coins size sweat circle around the bite area is a real sign of the redback isn’t it? Along with the pain.

      Anyway, I suppose the good news for you is that you didn’t get a bad reaction that required a visit to the hospital or antivenom, but the bad news is managing the pain. It’s been about a week now, hopefully you are well and truly over the worst of it.

      So, are you feeling a bit better now?

      • Peter S December 9, 2015, 2:34 pm | Link

        Hi BobinOz
        My last comment was at 40 hours. After that, night 2, I started to sweat from the knees down – and I got bitten on my wrist! My lower legs and feet were so sensitive I couldn’t sleep. Stayed up most of the night watching rubbish on TV Day 3. Not much pain at bite site, swollen lymph nodes in groin and armpit, reduced sweating. Day 4. Almost back to normal, except the bite site was still itchy. If I ever get bitten again, I’m going to ask for antivenom. I’m not brave enough to go through that a second time.

        • BobinOz December 9, 2015, 11:17 pm | Link

          It’s strange, but sensitive feet has been mentioned a few times before. I think you just have to live through this stuff, I’m not sure opting for antivenom is a good idea. Sometimes the antivenom itself can cause more problems than it solves.

          If you are not nauseous, vomiting, or about to meet your maker, I think doctors are very reluctant to give you antivenom. I hope the next few days are better than the last four.

  • Catriona November 21, 2015, 4:58 pm | Link

    I was bitten this morning, still in localised pain this afternoon. Pain manageable as long as I keep ice pack on.
    Pulled on pair of pants and felt a scratch/sting followed by another. First though was ant! Pulled pants down, out tumbled half squished spider, grabbed cup, scooped up, identified spider, called 000 being hme alone with my two kids.
    Treatment by paramedics was ice pack and told if need pain management take Panadol. They told me there is no anti-venom!!
    My choice whether to go I hospital or not. Chose to stay home and rest with ice pack. Some pain in groin but burning stinging pain continues in bite area, intensifying when I remove ice pack.

    • Sharon November 22, 2015, 1:03 am | Link

      Hi Catriona. It must be the day for getting bitten by RedBacks. I was bitten around lunch and am still in serve pain. I suffer from Gillian Barra syndrome in my feet. A condition effecting nerves and causing me to have no feeling in my feet since 2008. I’ve stepped on glass and been bitten by things and never known other then the blood and obvious swelling and bite marks. Today I put my shoes on and started doing my lawn when I felt a pain in my foot. Strange since I don’t feel my feet. Didn’t see any problem so I put my shoe back on and continued with the lawn. The pain got worse so I took my shoe off again and as I looked at my foot a nasty redback walked out of my shoe. So finished mowing the lawn without that shoe and then started surfing the Internet for info. As I only felt pain in my foot I decided not to go to hospital either. After reading the above story I have taken the antihistamine and a lot of panadole. So far the ice pack and constant movement is the only thing easing the pain. The description of having a nail driven through my foot would be spot on and 14 hrs later it still feels like that. I am also feeling a numbing sensation in my thigh. I hope this pain goes away soon so I can get some sleep.

      • Catriona Daly November 23, 2015, 11:22 am | Link

        wow must be intense pain if even with your condition you can feel it.
        I read somewhere it can take 7 days for the pain to go. This is now day 3 and the stinging, burning pain is continuing, with the occasional feeling like a nail driven in. Sleep is still disturbed unfortunately.

        • BobinOz November 27, 2015, 9:06 pm | Link

          No antivenom? Well, that’s clearly not true.

          Hopefully both of you are feeling a bit better now, unless any of you have felt nauseous, dizzy or any of the other symptoms I mentioned in my article, then antivenom would not have been needed anyway. Apparently only a small minority need it and sometimes having the antivenom can cause problems in itself.

          It’s probably been a week now for both of you, hope all is good. Cheers, Bob

          • Sharon November 28, 2015, 8:58 am | Link

            Well 7 days ago I was bitten by a red back and am happy to report my foot has gone back to being numb. That was a very unpleasant week. But thankfully I only suffered from the localised pain in foot and a bit of numbing in my thigh. I did read that the antivenom was not nice and not always needed. I’ve gone back to not wearing shoes when I can get away with it and have also learnt not to leave my shoes outside anymore. All better now.

            • Catriona November 29, 2015, 6:40 am | Link

              So 8 days later the site can glare up between itchiness and burning sensation that is caused by the site being hyper sensitive so the rubbing of bed sheets or clothes sets it off. So over it.

              • Sharon November 29, 2015, 7:22 am | Link

                Hi Catriona. I found that happening to my foot as it was getting better. I found applying pressure with my thumb would ease the pain for a while but then I went to the chemist and got some Soov. It’s for insect bits and has an antiseptic in it. So it numbs the area for a good hour or two. If you keep applying it before it wears off it really help. I hope you feel better soon. I can’t imagine how sore you must be with full feeling. I guess I was lucky it bit my numb feet. Hope this helps.

  • Mariam November 5, 2015, 11:56 am | Link

    Does anybody know where does the red back spider live because I’m always weeding in the garden and it’s know summer time

    • ian November 5, 2015, 1:49 pm | Link

      They like to live under things like outdoor chairs and tables, pot rims etc., usually a few inches to a couple of feet off the ground. They need a good flow of air to bring in their prey, so if you ever see one inside, it’s probably lost.

      They have a somewhat hard to see (very fine) web, which is a messy bunch of strands leading to the ground, but which are very strong if you push against them. Unless you actually put your fingers inside their lair, you would be unlikely to see them, but they do come out on warm nights and sit at the top of the strands of silk. If you brushed against it, you COULD get a bite, but mostly you need to accidentally squash them to get bitten.

      • BobinOz November 5, 2015, 9:20 pm | Link

        I’ve been here for nearly 8 years now, I’ve never actually seen a redback spider. I’ve been bitten by one, but I didn’t see him. I might have seen one once, in my house when I first moved in, but I didn’t know enough about them at that time to know for sure. I probably thought every spider was a redback spider back then.

        So I’m glad Ian answered, thanks Ian, as I have no idea where they are.

  • Peter October 8, 2015, 9:33 pm | Link

    Put on a pair of sneakers while on the mobile phone ready to take my 2 year old son to beach the other day and felt a bite on my foot .Thinking it was an ant so I hang up and take my sneaker off and sure enough it was a red back comes out probably male being smaller and more brown but red stipe .Well change of plans all of a sudden I didn’t feel anything till 3 or 4 hours later and a pain on my top of my foot like it as being squeezed hard on and off lasting all night apparently but having taken afew panafol a seems to relieve the pain .its now slowly going away and feeling like the pain is almost now very minute .Slight sting now and then overall so far over 3 days that’s it so far hope it’s the end of it

    • Peter October 9, 2015, 7:18 am | Link

      Ps 4th day and the is no pain at all except for a red dot mark on my foot where I was bitten.So overall I would say I was lucky I guess the pain was bearable that last on and off around my foot only for two days ,taken panadol helped so that it all over red rover .

      • BobinOz October 9, 2015, 8:15 pm | Link

        Hi Peter, glad to hear your pain has subsided, sounds like you were lucky this time. As you can see from other comments here, some people go through horrendous and long-lasting pain.

        Like yourself, I got away with it when I was bitten, but my understanding is it’s all down to how much venom these spiders pump into you when they bite, so next time one of us, or both of us, might not be so lucky. Cheers, Bob

  • Helen October 6, 2015, 2:36 pm | Link

    Hi everyone. This happened on October 3rd. I had gone up to the chook house to grab a garden hose. While I was carrying it on my left arm I felt a little bit of a sting. I looked down and to my horror and shock there’s a red back on my wrist. I quickly brushed it off but too late it had bitten me. I dropped the hose a little later and went in search of my partner to tell him I had been bitten. He said we should go to the hospital and I said no. He rang the poisons info line and they suggested panadol for pain, (I wasn’t having any yet) and ice pack, see how it is after about an hour. If pain starts to get worse, go to the hospital. I was ok with that. We were fixing a leaky tap when the pain started to hit. About 45 mins after the initial bit, I said we should go to the hospital. So we got changed out of our dirty work clothes and off we went, me still with the ice pack on the bite site. I have a very high threshold for pain but when it started to get worse, I was getting a bit worried. By the time we got to the hospital I was in tears. While sitting in the waiting room the pain was getting worse and I could not stop the tears. I tried waving my arm around, shaking my arm anything to try and stop the pain that was starting to travel up my arm. The area around the bite site felt sweaty and just felt totally different to the rest of my arm. Eventually the doctor took me in to A & E but then almost straight away put me in to the observation ward. The pain was getting more intense. They prepared me with the emergency cart, (apparently there is a chance of a bad reaction from the antivenom), before giving me the antivenom. Then he wanted to have a neddle in, (well that really hurt because he missed the vein at first). I’m thinking just give me the antivenom please. Finally the antivenom was given then we were informed it can take up to 2 hours to take effect. Great! Morphine was injected every 5 minutes to help with the excrutiating pain. I think the morphine just made me relax but had absolutely no effect when a bout of really really bad pain hit me in my wrist. It felt like someone was grabbing the muscle in my arm putting it in a vice and tighening it till there was nothing left to turn. I have never felt pain like it. The nerve in my back is pinched in 2 places and I have to 2 protruding disc which really hurts but not like the pain I endured for almost 7 hrs after the bite. The pain was at a point where I wanted them to take my arm off to stop it. They had taxied more anti venom in from another hospital thinking I was going to need a second dose. The doctor had told my partner that I was having a extreme reaction to the bite.They wanted to keep me in overnight but I just wanted to go home and suffer in silence in my own bed. I was allowed to go after 7 hrs but then the vomiting started on the way home. It is now Tuesday 6th October and still have pain in my wrist and now and then up my arm. We had been told there could be general pain around my body…yep got that too. My ankles, behind my knees and a little in my shoulders.I’m hoping this will eventually go away really soon….like now would be great. The bite site still comes up as a little lump on my wrist, has like some sort of small rash and has been getting itchy. I hope I NEVER have to go through anything like that ever again in my lifetime. It was horrible, scary and excrutiatingly painful for me and my partner was very worried at the time and stayed by my side the whole time.

    • BobinOz October 6, 2015, 9:27 pm | Link

      Wow Helen, that really is a bad reaction. Fortunately only a very small percentage have this kind of reaction, unfortunately for you, this is what has happened to you on this occasion.

      That is not to say this will always happen to you whenever you get bitten by a redback, the medical expert I spoke to on this subject explains it all here…

      http://www.bobinoz.com/blog/14799/the-redback-spider-bite-are-some-people-immune/

      I know what you’re saying about morphine as well, I was given it to ease the pain after a cruciate ligament operation and frankly it was useless. Anyway, I really hope your symptoms subside very soon and everything goes back to normal. Take care, Bob

  • Mick Oakes October 6, 2015, 7:10 am | Link

    I got bitten by a red back 36 hours ago. Cleaning up the garage, not being careful (I’m from Canberra and there are heaps of red backs here) and I picked up a rag it had nested in. It bit me on the finger at it was like a nail or thick pin had gone into my finger to the bone. The pain was intense. I didn’t have any severe reactions so I just applied ice to my finger and alcohol to my brain.

    The next day I felt woosy, like I’d taken an acid trip or something, today my stomach is doing dastardly things.

    My finger still hurts, the puncture mark is minimal but damn that spider got me a good one.

    • BobinOz October 6, 2015, 8:45 pm | Link

      Not pleasant is it Mick? The incredible thing with these tiny critters is that everybody seems to have a slightly different reaction to one of their bites. Luckily for you, you haven’t had any severe reactions as some have, so that’s a bonus.

      Doctors, of course, will advise you to drink plenty of water, but like yourself I turned to alcohol. That’s the big advantage of not having had any medical training whatsoever 🙂

      Cheers, Bob

    • Nicole December 27, 2015, 7:57 am | Link

      Hi Mick. I was bitten on my little finger on the 23.12.15. Swelling and burning is still intense and I have to wear a bandage because if I bump it, I would prefer to chop it off. Question is how long does it take to heal? There doesn’t seem much info on this.. Thanks

  • Peter October 2, 2015, 7:44 pm | Link

    About 1988 i got bitten on the thigh by an unidentified Australian spider. I flicked it off rather hastily, but remember it was smallish and black, and have to this day assumed it to be a red back. The immediate symptoms were as described above, however, after those wore off i was left with a slight numbness or a tingling sensation in the front of the thigh, where the bite occured. Kind of like pins and needles. That sensation remained there for many years until one day a few years ago i noticed it had finally gone. However, just lately, caused by an unknown colescense of factors, the numbness has returned. For one thing ive been on a diet change and detox using green smoothies. It may be possible that toxins stored long term are being released. Another thing is after a period of more intensive hiking activity, some LCL ligament strain occured in the knee of that leg, and further investigation at the chiropractor revealed that i work that leg quite a bit harder than the other leg. The numbness may hence be a result of tighness in the quads as a result of the kness issue, but after lots of massage, and rolling the knots out, it just feels not really tight but numb. Or could it be that i work that leg harder because of the numbness? So i dont know… just found this page, looking for anyone else with long term numbness or tingling sensation.

    • BobinOz October 5, 2015, 7:44 pm | Link

      Interesting, we’ve had many many different symptoms and reactions mentioned here in this thread, I don’t actually have a recall anyone saying tingling or numbness, but many people have spoken about symptoms returning after many years.

      What’s happening to you could be related to that bite, but it’s really difficult to say. Hopefully you have subscribed to responses on this post, because sometimes it can take a very long time before somebody else sees your comment and it relates to their own experiences. So stay tuned, somebody, somewhere may be able to throw some light on what is happening to you.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Trudy Stone September 29, 2015, 7:25 pm | Link

    When I was little my Dad was bitten by a Redback Spider. My Dad at the time was a strong, sporty Aussie man. He was working on the Valiant car, during our annual Gold Coast holiday. The spider was not very visible, that is why my father was bitten. Eventually, he found the Redback, yet it was plain black. He was a big strapping man, he was in a lot of pain and did have to go to the hospital to get the antivenom. His description of the bite was like yours. Like a white sweaty blister or spot, with the redness and burning. Please go to the hospital if you or anyone you know is bitten. Apply an ice pack. Do not mess around please seek medical attention.ASAP. Trudy.

    • BobinOz September 29, 2015, 11:31 pm | Link

      Sounds like your dad had a bad reaction to the bite, apparently that does happen sometimes. If the hospital decided to give him antivenom, then he was clearly in a bit of trouble.

      For some bites though, these reactions don’t happen and it’s probably not necessary to go to the hospital, but if anyone gets bitten and does have any concerns or worries, then the hospital is the place to go be.

      Thanks Trudy, Bob

  • Rachel Wilson August 10, 2015, 9:23 pm | Link

    Hi, I just yesturday got bitten by I think a redback. Felt a tickle like a bug in me but as my hands were full I carried on thinking I, ll just put these down so I can flick whatever it is off. By the time I wiped it nonchalantly away I slowly became aware if a little pain but no biggie, after I carried on cleaning the house about 10 mins into bite and I’m reaching for pain killers thinking its a weird muscular pin stabbing pain getting worse in kind of throbs. By the time my partner came home and about45 mins after the bite I was aware it was now a bite of some sort and presumed it was a green ant but they normally only deliver quick hideous punch then nothing so was starting to worry. Because I also suffer liver cirohsis I was more concerned re the venom on my liver so went to a and e. on the way the pain became INSANE!!!!! I’m not kidding , I have broken limbs , had fractures, fallen off countless horses but nothing compares to the pain I was experiencing. I have a high pain thres
    hold and it takes a lot for me to take anything but by the time we got to hospital I was screaming in agony ( very out of character). I think they gave me 5 lots of morphing but it wasn’t touching the pain just getting me very stoned but still in pain . The morphine tho seemed useless at the time I think calmed the body a tiny bit, enough to be able to get the strength for the next lot of throbbing and burning. Way into this nite mare at some point I was given anti venom which did nothing. But if offered it again under the same circumstances I’d still say yes because I suspect it may have slowed the pains rate of progression down. After that I was given a further 2 shots of morphine so , this happened at around 1 pm and I was given the antivenin at about 12midnite. I was transferred to another bigger hospital and there I think I was starting to kind of calm a bit tho still in enormous pain the throbbing had gone and I think the morphine kicked right in and put me to sleep for an ho
    ur or so .they had put a cream with a numbing agent on the bite sight wich worked a bit so I think that helped too. It’s Sunday nite now and I’m still feeling hideous because of all the pain killers and because I’m still in a substantial amount of pain but nothing like it was. We all presumed it was a red back but I didn’t see it or did I have beads of sweat I don’t think as I didn’t even look at the site that well, just saw redness like yours. I think the doctors should di this when they get bite victim… 1. If in agony give the patient something to calm them and the muscles. ( I found muscle pain really hard to deal with on top of stabbing pain plus one is so histerical in agony to different degrees that being calm I believe would enormously help the pain. )
    2. Maybe try antihistamines ( hospital strength ) before the morphine and or antivenin as I think Valium or the like, antihistamine , then if no good try the morphine and antivenin. It’s really quite frightening when you know you’ve had enough morphine to sink a ship and its barley touching the pain. Anyway I’m still a bit traumatised by it all and 24 hrs on and still can’t move my shoulder( bite site) without it throbbing a little and there’s still an ever present dull pain in the shoulder muscle. Hope that helps anyone else identify their bite.

    • BobinOz August 10, 2015, 9:46 pm | Link

      Wow, sounds like you really have been suffering quite badly. As you can see, there have been a lot of comments here, from memory I think there’s only about two or three people who have had this kind of reaction.

      In fact people’s reactions to redback spider bites vary enormously and if you look at the links at the bottom of my above post, you will see mention of a couple of interviews with Prof Julian White.

      He is an expert in this sort of thing, and I asked him if some people are immune to their bite and if others are more disposed to a more severe reaction. You may want to read that article, he gave a very thorough and interesting answer.

      You will probably see that it may well have been a good idea to put down what you carry on and flick that critter off. Too late now, but live and learn.

      I truly hope you make a full recovery very soon, and you really do need to cut down on your morphine usage 🙂

      Cheers, Bob

  • Thomas Kent August 10, 2015, 1:10 pm | Link

    Thanks Bob. These funnelwebs were rather sluggish and didn’t look aggressive. I wouldn’t advise an inexperienced person to try catching one – I am an extremely patient stalker. Be careful spraying them! Some sources say that sprays can make them more aggressive. When spraying spiders I always used the strongest spray I can get with a mixture of ingredients. I think ticks are more of a danger to be honest. The St Andrews is always listed as non-dangerous, but apparently some people can have an allergic reaction similar to a bee sting. Again, coming from NZ, I had even less experience with nasty biteys than your English readers, as there are practically no noxious insects or spiders in NZ at all and of course no snakes. I never found them worrisome. The spider that always worried me the most was the black house spider, not found in NZ when I was young. This is because they are common up north way and they like living in furniture, also of course up north people wear little clothing indoors.. But as I say, a bite from one caused me no huge problem although now that I recall, it was extremely painful for about three hours and still tender the next day.

    In my experience, you don’t find cockroaches in cold environments and never in association with ants, the ants always displace the cockroaches. Coming from NZ, I had never seen a cockroach before I arrived in Sydney. In Auckland you can get big ant infestations. I have seen a few roaches in Melbourne in old wooden houses, but never at the plague levels you get in the older parts of Sydney, where you can find really big infestations.

    • BobinOz August 10, 2015, 9:36 pm | Link

      Yes, we get black house spiders here in Brisbane, but I very rarely see them. That’s the beauty of professional pest control. In fact I very rarely see any spiders in my house at all these days.

      I agree also that there are far fewer cockroaches in Victoria than there are in New South Wales or Queensland, but you will come across them from time to time. They really are one of the most unpleasant critters on the planet so it’s great to hear they get beaten up by ants on a regular basis 🙂

  • Thomas Kent August 8, 2015, 11:35 am | Link

    Ooh, in that first comment, the rot near my friend’s eye was 2 mm, not 2 cm! It healed up fine.

    • BobinOz August 8, 2015, 8:35 pm | Link

      Thanks for clearing that up, 2 cm was rather scary. Easily done, I’ve got a video on YouTube about a water scorpion which I described as Australia’s biggest bug at 50 cm long.

      Obviously I should have said 50 mm. Bit hard to change a video though, so I left it as is and it probably scares the pants off some people 🙂

  • Thomas Kent August 8, 2015, 11:33 am | Link

    Although I would very much echo Bob in telling my British friends to not worry at all about venomous animals in Australia, it so happens I have had encounters with redback and brown snakes and also with a number of poisonous spiders.

    When I was living in Lindfield, Sydney, right next to Ku-Ring-Gai national park, we saw funnelwebs quite commonly. People reported them in their swimming pools (funnelwebs love water). Several times I caught funnelwebs in the basement and took them to the park after catching them under glass jars. I also saw a few redbacks, which I sprayed, as they live in webs and you can’t catch them.

    When living in Bellingen, Central/Northern NSW (which is one of the wettest parts of Australia), a friend was bitten by a black house spider which was living in his couch. He was bitten near the eye. It caused necrosis near the eye – a piece of flesh about 2 cm in diameter rotted away and his eye was red and weeping for about a week. I also got a small bite from a black house spider, also in my couch, which caused a small local swelling only. The fang marks were quite clear.

    There were two spiders that made me nervous – St Andrews Cross spiders in the old stables, and also a very small numerous transparent brown spider with a rather lactrodectus appearance living under the sink. I sprayed the latter.

    I also got bitten by a spider that I have never seen anything on sites or in literature about. This was a rather large spider of very lactrodectus appearance. There was a colony of about half a dozen or more living in my shower which had high windows – in other words, they liked the light and the damp. They had a strandy kind of web. Their abdomens were maybe 1 cm in diameter, glossy black with no markings. I got bitten by one. It caused a large red lump about 1 cm across. This lasted maybe 2 days but I felt rather ill for maybe 4-5 days.

    If you want to avoid the creepy-crawlies try colder states like Victoria, which still has nice beaches. And NO COCKROACHES!!!

    • BobinOz August 8, 2015, 8:33 pm | Link

      Sounds like you have had quite a few run ins with our eight legged friends over the years Thomas, and you’ve got the scars to prove it. I am pleased to hear though that you haven’t resorted to stamping on these critters; despite your battles, you’re still happy to catch them in a jar where you can and relocate.

      Not sure I’d feel that comfortable doing that sort of thing with a funnel-web. I think I’ve possibly only ever seen one of those in my house in my whole time here, that was in the first five weeks of my arrival and I took no chances, took him out of the game with spray.

      The St Andrews Cross Spider isn’t too scary, I’ve just checked in my handy local critter Bible and it says its bite only causes mild local pain.

      I’m not buying your ‘no cockroaches in Victoria’ theory though; they are there, no doubt about that 🙂

    • ian October 10, 2015, 7:04 pm | Link

      The shower spider could be a Brown Cupboard Spider, Steatoda grossa. Very few spiders in Oz have significant bites, and these are like a mild version of a Redback bite. Just one thing – in my experience they like it pitch black (maybe it’s dark in the corner with the lights out. Check out on Google Images and you will soon see.

  • Howard Dengate August 1, 2015, 3:28 pm | Link

    Thanks for this extremely useful website about redback spider bites, better than anything official and far more useful. Can I ask your contributors if anyone has had their redback spider bite become encysted so that 11 months later they are still having symptoms? And what have they done about it?

    I was bitten on the middle finger outermost joint 11 months ago and had the burning intense pain for a day or so, then a lump arose and over the next few months that finger’s nail became very distorted and irregular. Since then, whenever I get run down (eg after a long airline flight or after overwork) then I go through a cycle of severe headaches, malaise, fatigue that seems to run for 4-5 days and then go away. The site of the bite is raised, red and stinging again through this cycle. The recurrences seem to occur about once a month on average and are not going away as I hoped they might after nearly a year.

    Coincidentally or not, I have had developed severe plantar fasciitis through this time and very sore Achilles tendons and heels at the attachment point. I have noted other reports of foot problems so this may also be related.

    Any ideas for treatment would be appreciated.

    • BobinOz August 2, 2015, 8:32 pm | Link

      Well, I had a touch of plantar fasciitis a couple of months ago, so I know how painful that can be. Nobody has specifically use the term ‘encysted’, but quite a few people have mentioned recurring problems that have been going on for more than a year. I know there are a lot of comments here, but if you check somewhere above you will find at least two or three people for whom a redback bite has created ongoing problems.

      If you search this page for the word ‘feet’, it does get quite a few mentions, so foot pain has been reported before. Other than that, hopefully somebody else will see your comment and if they have had a similar experience as yours, I’m sure they will let you know.

      Hope this all clears up soon for you, it’s not much fun when things like this go on and on. Cheers, Bob

  • Rani June 21, 2015, 3:50 pm | Link

    Thanks Bob. I found this website particularly useful. I got bitten by a redback spider on the back of my hand yesterday while out in the garden. My symptoms were almost exactly the same as yours. After about two hours of increasing pain I rang Poisons Info (13 11 26 in Vic) and they suggested that it didn’t sound serious and that the best thing would be to mange the pain by taking panadol (I took Mersyndol) and applying an ice pack. More than 24 hours later the intense burning pain has subsided to a medium burning sensation and my wrist joint is particularly sore. I’m hoping that the pain completely subsides within the next day or so.

    • BobinOz June 23, 2015, 1:03 am | Link

      Yes, that was about what happened to me, seems we have both been lucky judging by the stories of many others here. Let’s hope there’s not a next time, but if there is, I would certainly like to be as lucky again.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Mark June 11, 2015, 7:31 pm | Link

    That previous post was from first thing this morning. I called Healthline and they encouraged me to go to ED within 4 hours. I did so. They discharged me and said i probably needed pain relief greater than 30mg codeine though didn’t prescribe me anything more than Panadeine Forte. Given the pain and sweating had spread to my lower legs and feet I had obviously copped a pretty nasty dose of poison. Its now 72 hours since the bite and I’m not enjoying the pain and discomfort. Sadly there is little that can be done! Like most just have to ride it out!

    • BobinOz June 12, 2015, 9:14 pm | Link

      Sounds like you have had a fair old dose of venom pumped in by that little critter, but if there’s anything positive you can take from this it is that at least you did not suffer a major reaction or anaphylactic shock. All you have to do now is wait for the pain to subside, I hope it goes away quickly 🙂

  • Mark June 8, 2015, 8:16 pm | Link

    Just bitten an hour ago on my hand. Massive red back came out of my jumper. Lots of aching pain up my arm and in lymph nodes. Feel a bit light headed and feelings of anxiety. Put ice pack on. Typing with left hand 😛

    • BobinOz June 9, 2015, 8:55 pm | Link

      Feeling lightheaded and anxious = see the doctor or go to emergency in my book, but how did it work out for you? How are you feeling today? Hope you are making a full recovery.

    • Mark June 11, 2015, 7:29 pm | Link

      Still here. Stinging/burning sensation still there around the bite. Also localised sweating which is just a weird feeling. Feeling really flat still and some throbbing up my arm. Im on a course and there is a Cardiologist and another Doctor on the same course so figure that if there was a major problem they would look after me. Its now just over 48 hours after initial bite so hoping tomorrow things will be on the up. If not might book into the Doc.

  • Lisa April 17, 2015, 1:04 am | Link

    November 2007 i was bitten by a redback On the shoulderblade. Luckily i felt the sting flicked the little bugger saw it land and immediately caught it. The immediate reaction is more of a sting. Within 20 mins i felt enormous pressure around my chest, and a constricting in every one of my muscles, my heart was racing and the bite site was throbbing and sweating. Not knowing side effects husband madly googling as i spoke with nurse on call it was agreed off to the hospital with the spider in a jar still alive.
    Taking a redback into emergency gets you a front row seat i found out. Ecg was performed and pain medication given. Antivenom was discussed but i felt like i could take the pain and ride it out. 6 hours later i was leaving the hospital. Sore but feeling better. Next morning i woke with sore feet. Walking was painful, my heels felt as though i were walking on the bones this lasted for more than 4 days. The sting site was red for weeks. And the racing heart still happened from time to time. For a girl who would be that one the mozzies loved to feast on at a bbq and bear the red welts all over her body, i will say from that day on i am someone who has no reaction and is no longer attractive to mosquitos So its a great repellant. It has been 8 years since then and i am now back on the hunt to chase down long term effects of a bite to a torso as my immune system has been attacking itself. Being forced to create a timeline of events to trace the immune problem signs. I had completely forgotten about the redback bite until this timeline was put together but it is seeming more significant being a year before any symptoms of immune problems. If anybody else has experienced a redback bite and suffers from autoimmune, systemic or connective tissue diseases and may have never thought to link them, i would love to hear about it. Most people and research seems to focus on limb bites, with little or no long term compromises to your system. I noticed when i read this blog that my reaction to the bite was different to a lot of people so it plays on my mind that a spider so venomous can not leave permanent damage if they hit near major organs or close to a spinal cord. If it turns mozzies off for years, it must alter your chemistry. What are your thoughts?

    • BobinOz April 17, 2015, 3:18 am | Link

      Hi Lisa

      We’ve had lots of people here tell us about their redback spider bites and the reactions they’ve had. Quite a few people have mentioned painful feet and from memory, I’m sure we have had one or two talk about long term effects, where they believe that years after the bite they are still having problems that they associate with the bite.

      There are a lot of comments here, but it may be worth you scanning through them to try and find those cases, you may pick up some clues. If you find any comments that interest you, I’d be happy to try and contact the posters to see if they would be okay to talk to you direct to discuss it further.

      As you say though, if it has stopped mozzies wanting your blood, it seems reasonable to assume your blood has changed. It’s then reasonable to wonder whether that has changed your immune system.

      It may also be an idea to see if your doctor can refer you to a specialist, you may already be going down that track. I know Professor Julian White in Adelaide is one of the top guys in this field, I interviewed him, there’s a link to that in the above post.

      Good luck, I hope you find answers. Bob

  • Andrew Smith April 16, 2015, 10:18 pm | Link

    I think I may have been bitten by a red back this afternoon.
    I had put on leather gloves to go and pull out Bathurst burrs.
    At some stage I noticed a bit of a prickle. I just thought that one of the spikes had penetrated the glove and got me. But it got a bit more irritating over time. Then I realized that it was part that was well covered by leather and not likely to have been penetrated by a spike.
    OK so I kept pulling out the weeds and slowly it turned to some serious pain.
    That was about 5 hours ago and for perhaps 4 hours it just kept getting more and more painful.
    But it seems to have turned the corner now and the pain is lessening somewhat.
    It is only really affecting a fairly small area. Perhaps a cm in diameter or so. It does hurt a bit like someone pushing a hot nail into the joint.
    There is no obvious signs of a puncture wound. And there is not a lot of swelling either.
    But it is all quite red.
    Not particularly sore under pressure. But it hurts just sitting still and the surface is sore to a light touch.
    Of course it might be something else. But we do have redbacks living in the area where the gloves are stored. And there aren’t a lot of other spiders in that area either.
    It seems that the redbacks chase the others away.
    Anyway I was already going to see the doc in the morning so I will mention it if there is anything that seems to be getting worse by then.
    Having accidentally grabbed snakes a couple of times, without being bitten, amongst other things, I suppose one’s luck has to run out some time.

    • BobinOz April 17, 2015, 2:17 am | Link

      Yes, it may well have been a redback. If you had localised sticky sweating at the area that would be another sign, but a dead redback in your glove would be the clincher.

      Whatever got you, sounds like you’re getting over it. You really should stop grabbing snakes though 🙂

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