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

by BobinOz on May 4, 2010

in Australia's Bad Things

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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{ 265 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Povey May 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm

You must be turning into a proper aussie now Bob. Stuff the doc’s advice and have a brewski! Classic!


BobinOz May 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Yes, I feel I have completed a major initiation. Still have a few major hurdles left though. Like getting excited over the cricket. I need more time……


Phil September 7, 2010 at 7:13 pm

In the process of pursuading the wife™ that a move to Oz would be a good thing, despite me being a bit scared of spiders! Snakes, not a problem at all. But spiders, shudder. Feel better after reading this, more so because I have 3 young kids and was wondering just how dangerous spider bites were to them. The boy is only 3 and has no fear of spiders at all, often find him wondering around the house with a huge spider clenched in his fist!


BobinOz September 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Hi Phil

Our little girl was only 3 aswell when we came out here. And similarly fearless. We just told her that insects were different out here and to let us know whenever she saw one, whatever it was, and not to touch! And she has.

But that was in the early days, these days we don’t really think about it. It’s almost a non-issue. Both spiders and snakes, we never seem them. So do your best to persuade your wife™ because the lifestyle when you get here is well worth it.

Good luck!


Rebbeca May 25, 2011 at 5:32 am

You are right I have lived in australia all my life, mainly in small country towns and it wasnt until i moved to the city I have been bitten by many white tail and my first red back spider. But unless your one of the unlucky few it isn’t worth being scared about .. just using common sense :)

One very important advice white tails dont hurt much but I would defiently tell you to apply vinegar to the bite (even if your not sure, I do it with all my insect bites) and it stops it from going neucrotic (rare cases) but if you dont put vinegar on early it will leave a little scar. I’ve also heard urine works but I’ld probably go vinegar first.

Vinegar however does not do anything for redback bites and yes yours defiently sounds like a redback. I think the intense sweating on the bitten area gives it away the most. I Have to say red back bites are defiently the worse pain wise. Its managable but defiently an intense pain.

Congratualtions on becoming an official aussie :P:P:P


BobinOz May 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm

The vinegar tip is a good one, I think it works well for jellyfish stings too. The other method you mention might well be worth a try, if you haven’t got any vinegar on you.

It might sound strange Rebecca, but I did feel quite privileged when I was bitten by that redback, almost like it was some kind of initiation. I hope they take it into account when I apply for my Australian citizenship.


kjdude July 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Never been bit by any spider but the spider that looks close to that one (the Black Widow Spider “Red Hour Glass mark”) was in under my hood of my car when I was looking at my engine and tried to get my hand in to fix something then I saw the spider just inches from my hand and my heart skipped a beat and pulled my hand away from it before it could do anything. Im now always going to check thoughly before attempting to put my hand in anything that could nest spiders.


BobinOz August 1, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Yes, the redback spider is related to the “widow”, all are member of the genus Latrodectus family. Best avoided, for sure, but you’ll soon get bored with checking every dark place first. I know, because I used to do it when I first arrived in Australia, but I don’t bother now.

I hope you fixed your car :-)


Jazi August 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I came across this page while searching for ‘what happens if you get bitten by a redback’ as I just found one of the little buggers hanging down from the aircon vents in my 4 year olds bedroom while shes asleep. I immediately started stressing.. what if theres more… how will i know if she gets bitten by one… Thanks for the info here, it rested my mind a little! Although I have been born and bred in Australia I have never been bitten by a redback or white tip. I do know 2 people who have been bitten by redbacks, the first one ended up in hospital barely breathing, the second had no effects at all. Shows how different people can have different reactions, although that doesnt put my mind at ease that my girls wont have the adverse reactions!!! Just to add aswell, my brother in law was bitten in the webbing of his fingers by a white tip, his skin blistered and started peeling away. It has left a scar. Horrible things.. where did spiders come from anyway and why cant we make them extinct!!!!!


BobinOz August 13, 2011 at 12:37 am

Hi Jazi

You don’t want to take any chances if there’s a possibility of redbacks in and around your little girl’s bedroom, I think you need to apply some pest control to the area. You can do it yourself by buying a pest treatment from the supermarket or a hardware store, you’ll probably be able to get something for around $20-$30.

Or call a professional. But the last thing you want is your little girl getting bitten by redbacks, even if she doesn’t have a bad reaction, it will surely cause her more pain than you’d ever want her to go through. I’d get spraying!

Oh, and spiders aren’t so bad, I wouldn’t want to see them extinct. Who would kill all the flies?


doc ??? January 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Extinct… Idk you know what will happen to the Ecosystem?


BobinOz January 13, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Like I said, “I wouldn’t want to see them extinct.”


Rocko March 12, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Australian spiders are a key part of our national defense strategy by making sure that everything in this country is trying to kill you.

If we didn’t have them, then there would be another 100,000,000 flies to deal with. 😛

And heck, let’s not forget that a river python killed a young salt-water crocodile last week in Australia [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26413101]… I think that’s one of the few animals in Australia that can kill a cane toad too.

Plenty more to keep your eye on. 😉


BobinOz March 13, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Yes, spiders are the good guys, they can eat as many flies as they want.

As for cane toads, evil ugly things, apparently meat ants can eat them as well, they love to munch on baby cane toads :-)


coleen September 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Interesting reading, as i got bitten just yesterday by a redback..how do i know it was a redback, because i caught the bitch biting on my arm and put her in a container.Initially it felt like a really stingy mosquito it was OUCH for sure.To cut a long story short i didn’t panic as i felt fine initially, but headed off to doc’s as the arms was getting red and swollen.Was in a bit of pain the doc rang the hosp and advised me to come in for the anti venom, i was prescribed panadeine forte, so went home and thought i would be fine??? WRONG I ended up in E.R OMG the pain was horrid arm was very red and quiet swollen not to mention on fire.From then on i got worse, headache arm was on fire/and the nail part you mentioned is spot on. I started to get the shivers which i couldn’t control, seemed to come from the inside out, my blood pressure was at 211 not good. I ended up having to have the anti venom and within ten minutes it was like a freekin miracle. I am still sore today but very tolerable just annoying. So yes i agree with you you defo got bitten by a redback.Because it made me so ill they were ready to take me to resus!! i am going to get one tattooed in victory :)


BobinOz September 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Not just OUCH. OUCH OUCH I’d say!

So, let me get this straight. You decided not to go for the antivenom, thinking panadeine forte would deal with it. But it didn’t and the pain ramped up? Was it within three hours, like my doctor said?

So how long after the bite did you actually get the antivenom?

This sounds nasty, did anyone in the hospital suggests that you are one of the minority to get a reaction.

What did you do with the spider? Did you forgive him? Or did you squish him?

It’s good to hear that the antivenom worked so quickly though, and we don’t even want to think what might have happened if this had been 1965!

Hope the tattoo comes out good.




coleen September 19, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Hey BOB,
I got bitten at 11:20am and got the anti venom around 3:30pm.Yes i kept the little spider in the container,she was one feisty lil biarch was trying to bite the fingers from inside the jar!! And yes when i got to the E.R i certainly got attention apparently i was the worst they had seen and wanted me to go on this study.Where they take bloods then more bloods then more bloods then either give you real anti venom or fake, but i think the follow up was weeks.By this stage i was feeling rather shitty my teeth were chattering and i just felt yuk,not to mention the freekin pain,they were talking of taking me to resus.So a head doc more or less got rid of the on lookers and told me i have two options, he helped me choose the straight anti venom as he knew i needed it. Apparently the study was because they were not to sure if the anti venom even worked!!!!!!!! um i vouch for YESSSS.Yes we kept the spider in the jar,she was in the freezer for two days(she deserved it) but have disposed of her now.Oh and your question the real terrible pain kicked in prob about an hour or so after the bite,before that i was kinda fine with it. To say i am now paranoid of meeting another one is an understatement LOL
P.S i still had minor pain in the area two days later, but all good now.They say i may get crook in a week or two from having the anti venom(serum sickness) fingers crossed i don’t


BobinOz September 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm

That would be like turning up at the dentist to have a wisdom tooth removed to be told “We’re not sure whether these anaesthetic injections really work or not, so we are running an experiment. You’ll either get a real injection or a placebo. Interested? Great! I’ll go and get my pliers and you tell me whether this hurts or not”.

Except worse!

I’m sure they knew what they were doing, but when you are possibly close to death, the last thing you want is a placebo! Thankfully, at least one doctor was smart enough to work out that you needed the real antivenom.

Nobody has died from a redback spider bite since antivenom was introduced in about 1984, and some doctors are still trying to figure out if it works or not?

Anyway, glad you are okay now and for the rest of us, as soon as that real pain kicks in after about an hour, get some antivenom!


Lisa October 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm

//I didn’t like the idea of turning green and warty at midnight and thinking “Dang! I should have got some antivenom.”//

I literally laughed out loud 😀 Love your sense of humour, that is an “Access All Areas Pass” to Australian life.

I’ve never worried about Redbacks, they are easy to avoid. Information that might have been useful to you earlier, they make really messy webs and they love to hide under fence capping outside. Plus, people don’t die from being bitten by one. Funnel web spiders on the other hand, they are one the best reasons not to live in Sydney, apart from the cost of living, the traffic and the congestion. They are deadly and are often found in shoes and swimming pools. They can swim. No really, they can. I love Sydney, it’s a beautiful city to visit, but to live? Nah. Too big, too expensive and funnel webs. Mercifully, living in Perth, I have the Simpson desert between them and me.


BobinOz November 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Hey Lisa

Funnel web spiders aren’t just in Sydney. I thought I might of had one in my house when I first got here, I live in the western suburbs of Brisbane. Whether it really was a funnel web or not, I don’t know, but you can read about it and see a picture here….

Funnel web spider post.

Whether it was or it wasn’t, they are about in south-east Queensland. The Courier Mail said..

“Funnel-webs are found in or near southeast and northern NSW rainforests. They also occur in Brisbane suburbs near to dense bush, such as The Gap, Kedron Brook, Mt Coot-tha, Bardon, Kenmore, Brookfield, Pullenvale, Springwood, Rochedale and Capalaba and Mt Cotton in Redland City.

They also are found at Mt Tamborine, Lamington Plateau, Conondale, D’Aguilar and the Border Ranges, Cunningham’s Gap and especially around Maleny, Nambour, Fraser Island and as far north as Gladstone.”

You can read the full article here.

But I think you’re pretty safe in Perth. I’m not though.



Liz April 15, 2014 at 7:30 am

There are funnel webs in other parts of Australia but the Sydney Funnel Web is the deadliest. The other ones still bite but aren’t as dangerous. We saw one who came in our back door one humid night and I have never seen a scarier spider. All covered in what looks like armour. Its funny that our biggest population decided to settle right where this spider has a relatively small habitat.


BobinOz April 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Armour is exactly right. I’m pretty sure I had one in my house once, ugliest spider I’ve ever seen. I describe them as the spider worlds riot police, because that’s what they look like.


tracy November 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm

hi lisa
i could have written your post, the reason i am in wa is because of the funnel webs over there!!!! when i arrived here 5 years ago the paper interviewed me as i was the only international student bunbury had ever had from the uk. they asked me why i chose bunbury and my reply was, there are funnel web spiders in sydney.

mind you i went to cut the grass the other day and there was this spider on the grass cutter bigger than my hand. omg i nearly died, i took a picture of it and its bloody eyes are glowing with the flash lol didnt think they could get that big. i had the spider man out a couple of days later and it was still there, he thought it was a wolf spider. told me he had killed it but know he was lying as it ran away (i heard its footsteps)


jane smith March 12, 2014 at 9:21 pm

‘I heard its footsteps’! That was brilliant, I’m still shuddering!


Tyler November 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Hey bob.

Most people often confuse funnel web spiders with the mouse spider. They look very alike, here is a picture of a Mouse spider


as you can see it looks very similar in colour and shape.


BobinOz November 10, 2011 at 1:16 am

No, it wasn’t him!

I’ve got a great book called “Wildlife of Greater Brisbane” and I use it to identify just about any creature I come across in the city. So I have seen pictures of the mouse spider.

I really don’t know whether mine was a mouse or a funnel web. But I do remember reading somewhere that funnel webs take shelter from the rain in dark places. Well, it had just started raining and my back door was slightly open and this spider took shelter in the darkness behind a wooden cabinet.

So, does that prove it was a funnel web? Not at all!

But it was an ugly black thing that reminded me of the riot police of the spider world!


megan hendrickson November 23, 2011 at 12:57 am

i got bitten on Saturday and am struggling with all the symptoms whilst staying at home.This is my 3rd bite – they seem too love me!! My hubby is a doctor who is watching me but I still feel like I should go to hospital. I am now looking after hubby who is ill and also 3 kids I ‘ll fall down last I guess


BobinOz November 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Never mind going to the hospital, sounds like you’re living in one! I hope you and all your family get well soon. Sounds like you’ve had a bit of a reaction.


Lynette July 22, 2014 at 2:06 pm

have been bitten twice by red back. 30 odd years ago they said it was a reaction to the anti-venom that made me sick for years. this time no anti-venom but so crook with same symptoms. nasty little buggers have no place in my world.


Sam January 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

I got bitten by something at about 9:00pm last night. I didnt feel it straight away, and it only started off itching a tiny bit, it was like a really small mosquito bite. Then it started to burn a little and the skin went all sticky, not beads of sweat but a wet feeling around the site. I took an antihistamine and went to bed.
This morning there is no redness and not much pain or burning at all but the skin is still wet and sticky feeling in an area about the size of a 20c piece. Its very weird. Do you think it might have been a red back bite?


BobinOz January 23, 2012 at 9:56 pm

It could have been, although my bite didn’t have any marking at all, nothing that looked like a small mosquito bite. Just the red sticky area.

Other than that, it really does sound like a redback bite. Seems like they are not so bad for some people, but really painful for others. See Coleen and Megan above.


Michael January 30, 2012 at 7:46 am

It is sad to know that you were bitten by a redback spider that probably has the worst spider bite in Australia. But it is good to know that you were find after about an hour of pain. There are some kinds of spiders all over the world that can produce serious spiders bites and if you are looking to know about spider bites then you should visit seriousspiderbites.com


BobinOz January 31, 2012 at 12:38 am

Thanks for the tip Michael, I will check it out.




Samar March 14, 2013 at 12:05 am

Hi guys,
Well I got bitten just lastnite in my shed on my shin.
Didn’t know at the time, just had an itch that then turned
Into a sharp pain up my leg towards my groin??
Wasn’t until I sat opposite my set I saw a” messy cobweb”
And jokingly said to my friends, umm guys, what if I just got
Bitten?by a red back ?i had no idea at all about this topic
And out of curiosity, looked under the seat to find one.. Urghh.
My cousins at first said I should go hospital, but I looked to google 1st?
I know right? Read a few helpful hints and decided to stick ice on it.
It has now been just over 24hours, I slept lastnite, went to work and well
All I’ve got is an annoying sweat patch and a slight stinging feeling.
I didn’t swell up either. I just hope it doesn’t get any worse .
Ps I use to be called spider woman by some friends before, referring to
My climbing the wall dance move haha.. And well, now it’s official,
I am literally a spider woman.
Thanks a lot for all info guys, it really helped.


BobinOz March 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Well, spider woman, I hope you haven’t suffered any further reactions, sounds to me as though you have got away with it.

Perhaps the red back that bit you knew about your nickname decided to go easy on the venom :-)


Jeff March 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

I am thinking of doing my own DIY pest control, doing some google research and I found your blog. I’m terribly arachnaphobic and SCREAMED when I scrolled down and found the pic of the redback. Thanks 4 the article though!


BobinOz March 13, 2012 at 12:51 am

Haha! Sorry I scared you :-) I hope you didn’t spray the screen with those chemicals.


TJ April 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Hi Bob,
I got bitten by a redback this morning as I put on my shoes. It felt like stinging nettles at first and I took an antihistamine straight away (after squishing the offender). My partner took me to Emergency and they recommended panadol and sent me home with a warning to come back if I became dizzy or nauseous. Six hours later, I still have that “nail driven into my foot” feeling but touch wood, nothing else.
Great blog and replies!


BobinOz April 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

It is exactly that, isn’t it? Just like having a nail hammered into your body. Not that I’ve ever had and a nail hammered into my body, but that’s what the redback spider bite feels like.

Look on the bright side, both you and I now know that neither of us are one of the small percentage of people who have that really nasty reaction to a bite.

We just get the pain. Long live Panadol!


TJ April 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

Yes, thank goodness!!


BobinOz April 15, 2012 at 12:36 am

Yes, it is a bit comforting :-)


Volker June 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

I am 70. Yesterday, around 10 am, sitting down on my garden chair, I got bitten by a redback in the right calf. It felt like a rather sharp mossie bite which at first itched a little. About five hours later the calf area, while not swollen or discoloured, was aching and damp – never felt this localised sweating before. Phoned Healthdirect for advice; was told to apply an ice pack, take a painkiller and go to the doctor within 72 hours for a tetanus shot. Did neither. Now, 22 hours later, and after a good sleep, the pain and the sweaty spot are still there – but bearable. Will phone the doctor next for a tetanus shot. Have decided to inspect my garden chairs before I sit on them.


BobinOz June 12, 2012 at 12:27 am

Tetanus? Nobody advised me to get a tetanus injection! Two years later though, I’m still alive.

Anyway, sorry to hear about your encounter with a redback Volker, not very pleasant, but then again, not as bad as all that either, is it? The localised sweating is unreal though, eh?

If you decide to inspect your garden chair before sitting on it, then you’ll have to inspect many other things, like your boots before putting them on, or your pillow before laying your head on it, or your hat before wearing it.. it’s all too much bother.

Could be another 70 years before you get nipped again!




Sharon June 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I have heard that pain is the most likely result. Small children and pets can die though!


BobinOz June 12, 2012 at 12:36 am

I’m pretty sure I read or heard from somewhere that pets are immune to spider bites, and it is extremely unlikely, if not almost impossible for a small child to die from a redback spider bite.

For that to happen, the parents of this small child would have to ignore fever, vomiting and many other distressing symptoms to allow the child to suffer an allergic reaction or go into anaphylactic shock. So, really not likely.

But yes, painful!


adza87 June 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

a few years ago i was working outdoors and it started raining it was quite cold so my boss got me a weatherproof jacket out of a steel shed close by but it had been sitting there for some time and was actually infested with redbacks that i was unaware of. after having this jacket on for 10-15 minutes i started to sweat intensely and my back felt like it was on fire i kept working as the boss was a idiot but after another 5-10 mins my face,arms,neck and throat all stared swelling very badly i felt sick and began vomiting and could no longer stand i remember falling to the ground thinking i was going to die my fellow workers removed my jacket n t shirt as i said my back was killing me and i could no longer stand laying on my back and would lay on my stomach instead. they rolled me over and could see in the jacket 2 large redback spiders whic were more than likely female which can be deadly by this time i was vomiting profusely,sweating non stop swelling up and could hardly breathe or see my face was that swollen. they called n ambulence n thats all i remembernothing after that. i went into anaphalactic shock and it nearly killed me. i would advise anyone bitten by a redback to go to hospital ASAP coz it was not a fun experience and i wouldnt recommend it 2 anyone. no matter how aussie you are. i wAS bitten 4 times.


coleen June 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Holy crap adza87!!!! four times OMG *shudders* you poor thing :( Once was bad enough for me I can’t even imagine the degree of pain you were in. Glad you came through though. I hope you squished them biarches bad. Yep I agree seek medical advice coz it really creepy up on yu.


BobinOz June 17, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch! It sounds to me adza87 that you may be one of the minority of people who suffer an allergic reaction to these bites which leads to anaphylactic shock, although being hit four times may make anybody suffer that way too, who knows?

Like Coleen, I was only bitten once, but I seemed to (thankfully) get off lightly. Coleen (did you read her comment above) suffered quite badly and clearly reacted to the bite.

As my doctor said “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.” Unluckily for you and Coleen, I think you’re both in that small minority.

Glad you are okay now though!




Buzz June 18, 2012 at 10:23 am

I study redbacks and keep a few as pets. Only the adult female can bite (she’s big and black with a red stripe and no white on her). For the most part they are very shy spiders – they will cower or run away in preference to using their venom, which is energy-expensive to produce. Spiders like to save energy (which is why they don’t move much). So it’s hard to get bitten. Only around a third of people are envenomed (most bites are “dry”, venomless bites). If the spider has fed recently she will inject less venom. I think I have been bitten but not envenomed. It sounds like you were bitten and venom was injected, but either a small amount or you are one of the lucky ones that doesn’t react much to it. Even so, I would have gone to hospital- it beats risking the other symptoms, which are really painful and don’t respond to pain medication. Drinking alcohol is a really, really bad idea after being bitten. If you look up what you should do after being bitten, most sites explicitly say you should not drink alcohol. I assume this is due to the effects of alcohol and its propensity to react with the venom. Think of your poor liver – it has to strain the alcohol and the venom both out of your blood.

I’m glad you didn’t suffer any really bad effects and it’s great you posted this as other people can see that usually they aren’t too bad!


BobinOz June 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Hi Buzz

Yes, I’d like to think I’m one of the lucky ones who doesn’t react, but I have also wondered whether it was either a very small spider or she didn’t inject much venom. It was teatime, maybe she had just eaten?

I really did think that drinking alcohol would act as my painkiller, but that’s probably why I wouldn’t make a very good doctor. It never occurred to me that I was making my liver work on two fronts.

I’m surprised you suggest that I should have gone to the hospital, do you think everyone should go just in case? What about the advice given to Volker above who was told he should get a tetanus shot?

Seems a little over precautions to me.




Buzz December 3, 2012 at 4:56 am

Hi Bob,

Yes, considering only a third of those bitten suffer from symptoms and in this paper: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2003/179/2/latrodectism-prospective-cohort-study-bites-formally-identified-redback-spiders it was concluded that administering intramuscular antivenom was not all that effective and most effects from the venom were mild, it would seem that going to hospital would be overprecautious – however, when you consider that redback venom reactions are unpredictable and allergic reactions can be severe and manifest even when they have never shown in the past, I would certainly advise going to hospital. At least your vital signs can be monitored and you can be looked after. You will probably be fine without going to hospital, but there is a small chance you may not be fine! But then, I am also someone who thinks going to hospital isn’t so much a big deal in a developed country. I err on the “better to be safe than sorry” side. I am aware that for some people it is not simple to go to hospital, like if they live a long way away from one. As for a tetanus shot, that is strange because a widow’s fangs are tiny and do not penetrate deep. I keep my shot up to date anyway because I work a lot outside and often handle raptors, but it is an odd recommendation for a spider bite. Still, I am no doctor!


BobinOz December 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Well, it probably makes sense to be prepared to make a dash to hospital if required and then make a judgement call at the first sign of any of those nasty reactions mentioned in the post. If my daughter got bitten, I’d certainly take her to hospital just as a precaution. The tetanus shot does seem a little strange to me though as well.


Lynette July 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm

funny isn’t it? I was always told only the female but when I went to the hospital the triarge nurse told me they all have venom, that I didn’t need anything, then when I collapsed she got quite excited and wanted me on a drip coz I must be dehydrated! mentally pumped up my blood pressure so I could stand and smile assurance that I was fine and GOT THE HELL OUTA THERE!! so now have to deal with the after effects again and as I am a lot older, not sure if they will outlive me this time.


BobinOz July 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

That nurse may have been technically right, but in terms of ouchiness, way off the mark.

Sixty-six bites were by female spiders (adult and juvenile), one was by an adult male spider and one by a juvenile (subadult) male spider. There was no significant difference between the effects of bites by juvenile and adult females. The adult male caused short-lived, mild pain only. The subadult male caused severe pain for 12 hours, but no systemic effects.

So, yes, the male can bite, although he is much less likely to, and it might hurt a bit, but nowhere near as bad as the female. For the full report, read the MJA study on redback spider bites.

Update: Oops, sorry, slightly misread that report, that subadult male looks to have caused a fair bit of pain, so the boys are a bit bad as well. But only localised pain, seems it didn’t spread around the body, so weaker venom possibly?


Josh September 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Read some of the posts and saw Lisas about the funnle web spider post. Like bobinoz said there not just in Sydney ther also in Tasmania because I saw 1 out the back near the wood pile. I live in the bush so there are spiders every where but this was the first funnel web I have seen ( u could teel it was a funnel web cause you could see it’s funnel shaped web hense it’s name the funnel web spider.)


BobinOz September 9, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Yes, they are in Tasmania for sure. According to trusted sources, they are in all states in Australia except Northern Territory and Western Australia.

I think it’s a good idea that anyone moving here at least finds out what they look like, so they know what to avoid just in case. It is rare to see one, I reckon, and remember, last time someone died from a spider bite in this country flares and mullets were in fashion.


Josh September 10, 2012 at 12:18 am

Yer for sure I knew that it was 1 cause if the web like I said before but yes if you moving to AUS make sure you take note of what spiders are what and read up about the snakes because there just as bad if not worse when bitten far away from a hospital.


BobinOz September 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Sound advice, thanks Josh.


Trish September 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm

My husband came home from golf yesterday with what he thought was a groin strain. He was in the bushes looking for someone else’s ball! When he felt accute pain to his groin & was doubled over in pain. His kidneys & back were also hurting. He carried on playing in discomfort & thought maybe it was a kidney stone. When he arrived home 6 hours later the burning cessation in his calf became unbearable . He then knew he had been bitten. The area on the calf was wet around the bite. The pain in his feet was excruciating so we headed off to emergency. They monitored him for 3 hours but released him without anti venom as his heat rate & blood pressure was ok. Dosed with codeine & strong pain killers . This morning the pain in his feet is still unbearable & spreading to his hands. His whole body is sweating & he feels very uncomfortable . It’s amazing what pain a tiny little critter can enflict. The initial bite on his calf lead to pain to the groin first & is related to the lymphatic system of the body . Standing for 5 hours contained the venom to the lower body & it wasn’t until he lay down the symptoms increased. Hope this helps other victims .


BobinOz September 10, 2012 at 12:09 am

Did he find the ball?

Seriously though, that sounds like one painful bite. Was it confirmed as a redback? What is interesting is that your husband has clearly had quite a reaction to the bite, but not a big enough reaction to warrant antivenom. I think the medics are reluctant to use antivenom if they feel you can get through it without it, because there can be reactions to the antivenom itself.

It seems they decided your husband’s heart rate was okay, so they preferred to let him live through the pain. And it is amazing just how much pain these tiny things can cause, but it’s nowhere near as much pain as we can cause them if we see them first. But we never do, do we?

I hope your husband has made a full recovery.




shaun lee November 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm

i am sure that your were bitten by a redback! wait… if you survived a redback, why dont you try to survive a wasp sting? what?! wait!!! im not trying to kill you!!!


BobinOz November 5, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Yeah, and if I survive that, I could move on to a funnel web spider, then maybe a shark, and then perhaps I could try a crocodile!

I’d get a lot of blog posts material out of that, wouldn’t I :-)


will November 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

as a local aussie i say you did a good job on this article, not only descriptive but very good locall medical advice. beer or the even more effective rum and coke solve most of our health issues. one little rarely known thing i want to point out though is while you never saw the spider odds are it was a low venom one. the color of the stripe dictates poison level. smaller sized red backs (females) are more toxic than the male counter parts and ones with a near fluro stripe are highly toxic and often lead to vommiting and hospital aid being required. however as you said the odds of a spider bite are low, more common to get eaten by a croc


will November 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm

additionally 2 things worth commenting on later in life. redback poison is more likely to affect children and the elderlly (weakend ammune systems?). however while most international people know of the spider treat may be worth doing a mention for the snakes which ALWAYS need medical care regardless of what occurs.

of the top 10 most poisonous snakes in the world aus is home to 8 of them. and while not all in 1 area their is at least 1 dangerous snake in every location of australia. as Americans know with rattle snakes if bitten get aid asap but do not expect our snakes to flee like normal ones. the inland taipan is notoriously agressive and will go out of its way to attack people it deems is on its turf.


BobinOz November 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Hi Will, great advice, I’m off to buy a bottle of rum in case I get any more ailments :-)

I think you are right, my suspicion is the redback that bit me wasn’t very toxic, I really don’t think my bite was painful enough to live up to the redback name. Snakes though, as you say, different story. If bitten, get help fast and it’s a good idea to make yourself acquainted with the first aid procedures to deal with such a bite.

I have written a bit about that here.




Matthew December 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I got bitten by one last Sunday. I got the pain straight away, and that lasted a few days.

On the Monday afternoon, I get the shortness of breath; I thought it was because I didn’t exercise enough – totally didn’t hook it up to the bite.

On Monday night I had a strong pain in my left arm, leg and side for like 6 hours. It wouldn’t go away – I still didn’t connect it to the bite and thought, too much exercise.

I got to sleep and woke up unable to feel my arms, totally numb, but the pain was still there. I thought, I’m having a heart attack. I checked my heart, beating strongly and pretty rhythmically. My arm feeling came back after a bit of moving about.

Then I got stomach cramps and nausea and spent the next 3 hours on the toilet with nothing coming out.

The next morning I googled all the symptoms and found it was probably a red back. I never saw the thing myself either.

My friend talked me into going to the doctor, who said the wound looked to have a bacterial infection and put a silver, anti-biotic dressing on it that I have to wet 4 times a day to activate, and gave me a course of antibiotics.

The wound is looking better now, but still doing the course and leaving the dressing on (today is Wednesday).

I think it was redback because the pain came when I was kneeling down on the edge of a wooden deck over water. Probably the spider was underneath and didn’t like my kneeling there.

Moral of the story: go to the doctor early if you feel weird at all.


BobinOz December 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Yes, could well have been a redback, was there no real bite mark but did the area become red and sticky? That’s what happened with me. As has been mentioned in previous comments, it appears I got off lightly, maybe mine was just a small bite.

You seem to have come off much worse than me, but then others above have been in an even worse state. Coleen got bitten so badly the doctors wanted to study her!

The obvious conclusion is that for everyone the reaction appears to be different, but we have all survived. And you are right Matthew, I certainly think that a trip to the hospital at the first sign of some kind of reaction would be a wise journey to take.




Janene January 6, 2013 at 10:13 am

Bitten by a RED BACK SPIDER yesterday (5th January 2013) at around 11am. The pain is extreme and relentless. Still in pain, though it has lessoned somewhat, as long as I don’t move. Got me in the calf muscle. Taking paracetamol as directed, and still applying ice packs just to numb the pain. The pain is like a stinging/burning combination. Even stingoes has little effect. Can’t bear anything on the calf area …- it is hyper sensitive. May have to go to hospital for an anti-venom assessment. Not looking forward to that. Either intravenous for 15 minutes or injected directly into the muscle. That thought just makes the nausea worse. The pain can go on for days apparently. Oh, and the female red back is dead, as are her nestlings. Made sure of that – after the event.


BobinOz January 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Oh dear, sounds like a nasty one Janene. It’s been a couple of days since the bite now, I hope the pain has eased off a good deal, maybe even gone completely. Do let us have an update if you get the chance.


Janene January 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Went to hospital Sunday at 12:30pm as the agony was relentless & intense, uncontrollable muscle spasms, weird pain in knees, toes and soles of feet, and nausea; & was given strong pain releif at 3:30pm. First batch of antivenom administered by IV at 4:15, as part of the RAVE testing, monitered constantly, then a second batch administered at 8:30 pm, and finally better results. More strong pain releif & I slept well in hosp. despite being woken every two hours for assessment! Assessed by the toxicologolist specialist this morning, and ok to leave. Still some minor stinging when walking, but at least now it subsides when I rest.
You do not want to go through this agony! Already have received a follow up call from the Centre, who will contact me intermittently to see how I go. Of course, if the pain increases in intensity or duration, I must go back to hospital, or should I develop any other symptoms to also go back, as a reaction to the antivenom can occur within a month or so. A very interesting yet painful experience I could have done without!


BobinOz January 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm

“A very interesting yet painful experience I could have done without!” – Sounds like a bit of an understatement. You have had it rough, did anyone suggest to you that you’ve been unlucky or that may be you are one of the small percentage of people who react in this way? Or was it suggested this was a bad bite?

Your experience was obviously way different to mine, would be nice to know why. Glad to hear that the pain is now under control and it sounds as though you are on your way to getting back to normal.

Pesky spiders!


Janene January 21, 2013 at 11:21 am

Hi Bob & all,
feeling like myself again now (21/1/13). Since my last note to you, I had an incredibly itchy ankle for 24 hours, excrutiaing pain in my left big toe for 8 hours, a rash on my left leg from the knee up to the thigh, the femourus rectus muscle felt like it was made from lead for a day, and just when I thought all was well, the frever/sweats started, along with extreme exhaustion/lethergy/malais. That went on for four days, starting last weekend. The redback research centre have been contacting me regularly to check, and advised this was normal!! They assure me nothing else will occur, however, symptoms can come and go for the next two months or so! It also transpires that I was bitten 5 times! Only one was invenomated, but that’s all you need. It was one very angry female spider.
Some people can be bitten and not be invenomated, it will still hurt but no major symptoms. Males are much smaller and are rarely seen. Some may suffer anaphalactic (sp?) response from the bite, because of the bacteria from the spider and/or the venom.
General first aid for a bite is 1. apply betadine (or equivelant) to site; 2. Apply ice pack to site; 3. go to doctor for tetanus shot. If symptons persist for more than 5 hours or intensify within that time frame, go to hospital.
Best thing is to just be careful!


BobinOz January 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Great advice from someone who’s been through it, glad to hear you are okay now.

Deb, below, appears to have suffered from longer term effects including headaches, migraines and blackouts. I hope Deb has seen this, because clearly the redback research centre believe there are no long-term effects, maybe you should get in touch with them Deb?

Interesting also that you were bitten five times but only envenomated once, I wonder if that was because the first bite had venom and then for the other four bites there was no venom left?

And yes, always best to be careful!


Deb January 17, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Hi Bob and other interested people

I was bitten by a male redback almost two years ago. Dirty bugger crept down my top and bit me on the chest. I had the severe pain, headaches, stomach cramps, nausea, sweating and dizziness. I phoned the poisons information centre and was told ro apply ice and rest. The pain and headaches increased over the next couple of days, so I went to the hospital. I was kept for observation for about three hours, given a tetanus injection (spiders carry the bacteria that causes tetanus) and strong pain killers and sent home. I was not given antivenom because my symptoms were not severe enough.

The pain lasted for nearly two weeks, the stomach pains a bit longer. However, the headaches did not go away, and I had trouble with bad migraines and black outs all of 2011, which I did not link to the spider bite, but now think maybe were a long-term effect. I had a CAT scan, MRI and EEG, which showed up nothing.

Is anyone aware of long term effects of Redback spider bites? I would be interested to know if other victims have had ongoing problems.



BobinOz January 19, 2013 at 12:33 am

Sounds like a pretty nasty experience all in Deb, have the headaches and migraines now gone?

It will be interesting to hear if anybody else has had the same experience, has anybody?



Lynette July 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

OOH yes!! and this time 30 years later, I don’t have the stamina to put up with it. I had Tachycardia and Arythmia for years after the first one. They were both female, both captured.


BobinOz July 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm

You’ve got more stamina than you think Lynette, I hope you recover soon.


Ellen January 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm

All I can say is that it those who “react badly” are more than likely bitten by a female RedBack Spider as they hold the most potent venom.

I was bitten by a female RedBack in 2010 and nearly died from it, however my mum was bitten by a male and got a little sick and not much more happened.

The females are bigger than the males and do hold a stronger venom, however I dont recommend playing with either, and you will know in 15-20 minutes whether it was a female as you start to have fits and sweat head to two, your body will start to fail and you can die within hours. Lucky for me my hospital held the antivom and saved me with an hour to spare


Pip January 21, 2013 at 12:47 am

@ellen Nearly all bites are from females, male bites are rare. Males also look different and are a lot smaller. Sounds like you’re one of those who suffer a reaction to the venom.
I had a bite about 3 weeks ago. Didn’t see what got me but had about 24 hours of pain in my ankle, couldn’t even put weight on it. Also swelled up about an inch high in a 5 inch patch around the bite and was constantly wet. At first I thought it was breaking down, but when it didn’t I realised it was sweating. Which led me to think it may have been a red back. No systemic symptoms all were localised. Still not much fun!


BobinOz January 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hi Ellen and Pip,

Ellen, I think you are right about females having the more potent venom and therefore being more dangerous, but as Pip has pointed out, not everybody will react in the way you have suggested, it sounds like you are one of those who will react badly to this spider’s bite, and it’s only a minority of people who do that.

Pip, my reaction was pretty similar to yours, I have no idea what bit me though, male or female. I don’t really want to be bitten again, not even in the name of research :-)




Samantha January 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Hi all
Was bitten on my big toe by ‘something’ this morning around 830am, didn’t feel the bite at the time and then felt a bit like an irritating mozzie bite. By the time i got to work half an hour later, my toe was a bit pink but the burning oh my!
Checked Mr Google, saw the sweaty beads on it and there you go, a redback bite [First one since came here 17 yrs ago]. Not had any other symptoms apart from throbbing toe, and my foot getting hotter, working its way towards my ankle, not particularly swollen though just uncomfortable to walk on [sitting at the office in bare feet is so liberating!] Not taken painkillers, and only iced for about half an hour, but will be visiting medical centre on the way home in a couple of hours. I did find as bit of body and a leg in my shoe when i took it off so will be checking the floor of my car to see where the rest of it went!
I guess we Brits are made of strong stuff the bites dont get through properly – Im a Yorkshire lass maybe thats what it is lol
Now take care and get that spray out – will be doing that once Im home tonight :)



BobinOz January 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Ah, the old spider in the shoe trick. Of course, brand-new arrivals here in Australia always take the precaution of checking inside their shoes before putting them on, but that little ritual goes out of the window after about a week.

And then this sort of thing happens.

Hope your big toe is okay, sounds like you got away with it just like I did, I don’t think it’s anything to do with being British though :-)




Brendan February 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

hi guys im brendan, 33 from melbourne.
i have NEVER experienced a spider bite before in my life, the only reason i was directed to this page was by research on the female redback.
i have had great fun reading all of these comments and has made me realise i am going to start wearing gloves when i am repotting my plants.
i live in a 2 story apartment complex and have lots of pot plants on my outside balcony.
luckily i dont have a backyard with a tin shed and all that jazz :)
to be completely honest, i am looking for a small female redback to actually keep as a pet inside a small cleaned out fish tank.
dont ask me why haha its just like an `impulse` idea that i got.
but can i find one anywhere ? no such luck.
i live alongside a very long creek/bike trail and i occasionally go down there looking at big trees with huge pieces of bark that can be easily pulled off with a stick.
no luck.
i just see some nice thick webs inside the big pieces of bark but once theyre pulled off, theres no sign of a female reddy.
just thought id let others know this is a different post and maybe an interesting one that can spark a conversation about keeping one in a small glass tank and feeding it flies etc

regards brendan from melbourne, aus


Buzz February 15, 2013 at 5:45 am

Hi Brendan

Best not to wear gloves – if a redback crawls on your hand you will probably be ok but if she crawls inside a glove she will get trapped, and neither of you will appreciate that!

Try looking in dry places, under largeish rocks near ground level – they build webs with gum-footed strands which attach the ground and they catch beetles and other insects that walk along the ground. The beetle walks into the gum footed strand and gets trapped in the sticky gum. Redbacks also seem to like garden and park benches for some reason, at least where they are introduced!

As for keeping a pet one, I completely understand, I had a pet one a while back. She was awesome! They don’t need much space, I kept her in a small container about the size of a beaker with a stick in there that she can use to structure her web around. I had two holes in there, one covered in very fine mesh for ventilation and one with a cork in it that I could remove to insert food (to minimise the risk of her escaping). I fed her an insect like a blue arsed fly once a week, maybe shove an extra one in there if I felt generous. She didn’t do much the rest of the week but was great to watch her catch flies. She liked it dark (they are nocturnal) and dry but I sprayed her once a week with a rose spraying bottle. I also kept some other redbacks the same way. If you get a wild female, feed her loads and she might give you some eggs. The spiderlings are very cute and it’s amazing watching them come out of the eggsac and spread bits of their mother’s web around, they even cooperate to catch food which is great to watch. When they get older they start eating each other though and the mother will also eat them. Good luck in finding one!


kirstyn February 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

i have one in a jar at the moment,i have lots of them in my back yard we have an inground swimming pool and they like to hide in the gap where the tiles finish and the vinal liner starts a few inches above the water level,i caught one a few weeks ago when i forgot to turn the hose off and i over filled the pool and there was 4 female redbacks each with 2 egg sacks they all pulled there egg sacks up to the top of the tiles to get away from the water,ive also found them in the house many times


Brendan November 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm

lovely picture of her :)


kirstyn February 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Here’s a picture.


BobinOz February 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

Wow! She’s a beauty!!

Kirstyn, keep hold of her, Brendan will be round in the morning :-)


kirstyn February 21, 2013 at 11:52 am

you wouldn’t believe what happen last night i put a cricket in for her to eat and this morning all that was left of her was the abdomen the cricket over powered her some how,its the first time time thats happened,oh well theres heap more where that one came from


BobinOz February 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Live by the sword die by the sword; that’s nature! They got strong arms those crickets!


Brendan November 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

lol Bob :)

apologies for the lengthy 9 months delay but im back now.


BobinOz November 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

You’re too late now Brendan. Sadly a cricket got to the red back before you could pop round to pick it up :-)


Brendan February 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Hi Buzz.
thanks for the reply, i was hoping when i came back to this bookmarked page there would be a reply :)
ill give the rocks a go and see how i go.
its a bit hard as i live in an apartment complex and theres not much of that stuff around, but i can always go for a walk down the street and have a look if there is any dry rubbish, old furniture on someones nature strip lol
i liked the idea that you used with the mesh and especially the cork lol made me laugh a bit at the thought if she got out.
the exciting part that im looking for ward to is feeding her.
just as u mentioned like a fly, a roach, or something similar , and just watching what she does.
could sit there for an hour as im intreeged by them, especially the feeding process.
in relation to the rose spraying bottle, that was obviously for water for her yes ?
as in drinking or having a quick spray shower lol ?
ill definately check this forum every evening to see any other interesting stories that may happen to pop up and appreciate the feedback/recommendations that you left for me.
Regards brendan


BobinOz February 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Some good ideas there Buzz, and Brendan, save you keep looking in, you can tick the box and subscribe to this thread, so any time anyone makes a comment on this page, you will get an email notification.

Click on the link in that email and it will take you straight back to this page, hope that helps.

Good luck spider hunting :-)


Buzz February 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hi Brendan

Luckily redbacks really like urban areas, try looking in any place that’s dry and dark, gaps in the wall, garden fences etc. You’re bound to find something.

You might find she will eat cockroaches but I didn’t have any luck with them – they have a waxy coating on their cuticle that makes it hard for them to be caught (just one of their many incredible adaptations to survival!). Moths are similar because the scales on their wings come off making them difficult to catch.

The spray bottle is just to give her a little rise in humidity. They don’t tend to drink as such and they are excellent at grooming themselves but I thought it might just be good for her little book lungs to breathe in some slightly moister air every so often. It probably isn’t necessary. It’s definitely needed if you have a juvenile (ie if there’s any white on her) or babies though, if it’s too dry when they’re moulting they will die.

Good luck! It is an interesting thread aye!


Brendan February 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Hi Buzz,
i didnt see your reply. i only saw Bob`s first hehe.
you have great knowledge of redbacks i must say, and your advice is quite good.
another thing i might try is looking under a tyre on the side of the road or something, they would love that i think.
interesting about the roaches and moths, ill keep that in mind.
now i understand about the spray every once in a while especially on stinking days like we have had all week here in melbourne, the sun is relentless high 30`s
a tiny bit of water inside the enclosure that shes in just enough to cover the bottom. even like a cap full from a bottle of coke or maybe 2 just so its nice and moist on the bottom, she can have a swim while shes in there :)

ill post another message and attach a pic if i can once i find one.
i realized a 30cm glass fish tank is too big, even though 30cm is most likely the smallest you can buy, ill keep an eye out for something else.
a lot of op shops like the salvation army, st vincent d paul, have loads of interesting stuff in there and of course the shops are divided into different sections.
i pop into different locations now and then and have a look if they have small glass sized boxes, an old glass jewellery box that`s been donated etc
things like that.

ill keep in touch, hopefully next time i post ill have one :)


Brendan February 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Hi BobinOz finally have introduced myself :)
ill subscribe to the thread and check emails daily.
I found every story and readers comment/s fascinating especially the new stories that
were being told. I was realy drawn into what they were saying especially when they explained it like a story.

Regards Brendan


BobinOz February 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Pleased to meet you Brendan, glad you are enjoying the website.




Kim March 5, 2013 at 7:57 am

Couple of things worth mentioning. Symptoms of redback envenoming, such as localised sweating, vomiting, and even localised pain may be ‘common’. However a lack of any of these does not discount that possibility.

The Australian Based CSL (Commonwealth Serum Laboratories) website:


Is a good resource. It probably should be because they invented, and I believe still produce and distribute, the redback spider antivenin along with a number of others.

For instance in regards to the onset of symptoms, I was bitten this past Friday evening. I felt a mild sting shortly after leaving our garden shed where I had stood at the door for no more than a few minutes where the sight of so many rusty things the I know full well can eventually lead to work had scared me away in such a hurry that I thought I may break into an actual proper sweat…

Jokes aside, I was actually in a hurry to get on with things as the sun was going down and I had a few things left on the agenda before dinner. Regardless of it having been enough to draw my limited attention, I ignored the momentary sting and other than a quick glance to see nothing at all, I carried on with the softly spoken inner words: ‘Bugga!…. hope that’s not a redback bludy spider wot jus bit me?? Find out soon nuff I spose’ quickly fading from my head.

So I finished the more important things than me, one of which ironically enough had been to nip up the hardware to buy a new garden sprayer to replace the one I could not find earlier when junk gazing at the door of that little shed, so I could then spray the external insecticide around and knock off a few spiders…has anyone ever heard of catch 22?

Sorry lost track again…Anyhow I went inside and drank a few beers, had a shower, had dinner, put the feet up and watched a movie, and then went off to bed. When I awoke Saturday morning I got up and went about my normal day to day with no ill affect. I carried on until lunch and then noticed that my left ankle was a ‘little’ tender, however it had been subject to my past stupidity, so I though nothing more of it except perhaps that weak inner voice again saying something along the lines of: ‘Reap what ye sew pilgrim, reap what ye sew’ so I went back outside to the business at hand.

That evening (now about 24hrs since that ocker in my head had said something to me as I left the garden shed) I had a few beers, had a shower and as I was drying myself off, I realised in that very moment that my poor suffering wife’s greatest dream had finally come true….No, I did not died allowing her to check in the insurance, however I had just become a truly sensitive guy, a SNAG if you like, in a most astounding way.

You see all the skin on my body, my arms, legs, torso, face and even that thin hairless film covering my excursively thick bony skull, all of it.. had become hypersensitive. Every hair upon my arms and legs was on end just like I had witnessed…oh never mind. But as I was drying off, just wiping the towel over my body was mildly painful.. A short time latter and the inner chills has started. A while after that and the headache…Standard at first for one who rarely gets one (there are advantages to having a bone dense skull you know). But then an all new headache and a brand new backache to go with it…remember we are just a tad over 24hrs here.

I’m describing all this to my wife. I’m telling her that my bad back is worse than ever and my head feels like its been used as a cricket-ball in a limited overs cricket match that was hurdler by Thomo at Adam Gilchrist for all forty overs being slogged to the carparks on a day he would have made 1440 Not Out.. I tell her of the shivers and fluie light-headedness and warn that I’ve never felt this bad prior to the head starting to run..She looks condescendingly at me and suggests that its probably “man flue”, the definition of which is a mild head cold that has been blown out of all proportions by pathetic grizzly 50+ YO little boy who still want to be breast fed by his mummy…Ouch!!…. Well OK, I accept that apart from the mummy bit that such a disease does actually exist. But ‘this’ time I wasn’t crying wolf…again..I really was crook.

So by now I’m going to bed, weak as a (male) kitten, and deeply, deeply offended. Luckily enough I have a pack of Panadine Fort’e supplied for a pre-existing. I don’t take the things all the time because they ruin too much of the next day, but when needed, they do help some what. Saturday night right thru Sunday that was all I ate along with huge amounts of water with the occasional addition of electrolytes, punctuated by surprisingly few a shaky legged shuffles to the loo to release disappointing amounts of strong urine.

By Sunday arvo I had become concerned about continuing to take the repeat doses of codine and then sleeping it off in a stupor. You see by that time I had become even weaker, all 6′ 4″ of me barley able to blink when awake let alone walk with any confidence in my legs carrying me and my concern now was that I may not wake up..seriously, ‘that’ bad.

Then on Sunday night, the sweating started properly. I had been a bit more than clammy at first, but Sunday night I put 3 singlets into the wash one after the other each fully wringing wet….Monday early I’ve improved just a tad. I had written off the Friday bite simply because it was 24 hrs before I developed any real symptoms. But after Sunday I was prepared to revisit all possibilities.

When I looked at the above link I was shocked to see all the pieces fit…”up to 24hrs”. I went out to the garden shed and put a torch lite where my left foot had been. Right at ankle hight she was there waiting in her wire tight web, not big, but she didn’t need to be to knock me on my backside.

While we’re on that, it’s my understanding that within the same demographic, that no one is any more, or any less affected by redback venom. Children and elderly when compared to a fit and healthy adult, well of yes course. But that would be bloody obvious to blind Neddy and aside from underlying medical conditions, they too will respond to the toxin much the same within the same age and weight category. So it all comes down to what a previous poster has already suggested. How badly any individual comes out the other side of the encounter is all up to her and she makes that determination solely upon how much venom she has to spare at that particular point in time, and how much you had cheesed her off to make her spend it on you and then bare the real risk of leave herself impotent until she can rebuild a decent discharge….If she hasn’t had a feed for a while and has felt safe enough to produce eggs, and you tangle with her web, then you ‘are’ going to hospital for anti-venom..Sure getting fully envenomed may not kill’ya, but at the very least your gonna really wish it had, and if the answer is there just a few k’s up the road then the enlightenment her toxin will deliver unto you shall surely illuminate your path to salvation brother…hallelujah!!!

Exhilarating stuff! Now where were we..Oh yes of course, on the subject of impotence, the female redback is a harsh mistress. Like that other famous member of the Latrodectus family, the black widow, the female redback will generally eat her mate soon after, or during copulation. She can then store his sperm from that event for up to two years allowing her to produce eggs when it suits her best…she has a heck of a lot of control over very many things when you think about it, and rightly so I guess.

Lets look at her toy boy. Next to no toxin. He’s small, much smaller than her but he must be strong and really really willing. He can’t provide a home because he can’t build a web. The only way he can get her up for having sex is by offering up his own abdomen for dinner by standing on his head, and even then if he does get her close enough to satisfy his urge without being fully eaten, he’s a one trick pony between the sheets because his only dance move is the 8 legged somersaulting suicide jive into spider poop…hard hard woman indeed but you can hardly blame her, you know what they say about lack of foreplay..

Here’s a decent link with most of the sordid detail:


So what happened to me?…Well you probably don’t care any longer having read this far and bored into sleep, but Monday, today, oddly enough Labour Day bank holiday in AU Bob, I made my way to hospital. At first there was some discussion about whether or not they should give me the antivenin with suggestions there was still an ongoing debate about its effectiveness. How there is no real proof I had been bitten by a redback because I did not actually see the spider bite me. About how side effects from “Serum Sickness” (See first link at bottom of CSL page. Serum Sickness is real and likely to be what had effect the lady who had posted earlier in this thread who suggested ongoing problems) could be worse than the bite etc. Suggestions that perhaps I should keep taking pain killers and they could give me a shot of antibiotics “to help with the spider bite” and send me home. How the state toxicologist probably wouldn’t authorise the antivenin for me now it had been more than 24hrs since the bite, etc, etc.

I stood my ground because I had a truly great motivator, I was really, really sick, sitting in front of them still pushing out sweat etc and knowing full well that whilst we do have free health at public hospitals here in AU, we also have those that will do what they must from a commercial perspective working within that system and how, with such tiny weeny little tits and huge big fangs, it must be all but impossible for anyone to milk one of those cantankerous, 8 legged lethal weapons with permanent PMT, so that antivenin stuff just can’t come cheap.

Long and short, I advised them I had been to reputable sites such as CSL and the SCIRO and I believed they were ill informed to suggest it was now too late to administer the antivenin. I insisted that according to my information, there is more evidence than not in how I have presented both story and symptoms to indicate that I have indeed been bitten by a redback spider. I refused any other treatment and stood to walk out unless they make the call and present my position to the state health toxicologist.

They did and the toxicologist then authorised 2 ampoules of antivenin to be administered intravenously via drip. It took app 30min for the first dose to be metered in and flushed through with a follow-up of saline. My forehead was dry before that bag was empty. Had to wait an hour or so under observation while staff monitored for a potential anaphylaxis shock response to the antivenin but 30 or 40 minutes after the first does I felt was right to go home however the dose is the dose and I feel really good now….its actually early Tuesday morning here now..can’t sleep because that’s pretty much all I had done over the two previous days and nights.

P.S. Must add that when I called my wife from the hospital to tell her all was OK. How I’ve now had the antivenin and it had worked a treat. How aside from some acceptable pain and redness at and around the general bite area, all other symptoms have gone. How this virtually confirms that my illness had indeed been the result of a redback spider bite. She had expressed her extreme relief by telling me..”Oh thank God…I thought you may have caught one of those real nasty flues, like swine flu, and you were gonna bring it home with you and give it to me!!…Gotta say, you looked really, really, horrible the last couple of days darl”

Hmm..This year a pair of shiny black leotards and a bright red cardigan for ‘her’ birthday I reckon.




BobinOz March 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Wow, thank you Kim, that’s a pretty good effort for a comment. I was tempted to say it’s probably the longest comment on this blog, but I have a feeling in the back of my mind that somebody, at some point, posted an incredibly long comment with something like 3000 words. So I’m afraid you will have had to have written about another thousand words to take that title :-)

Anyway, yours is a very interesting story and the bottom line, by the sound of it, is that you’re suggesting we are all equally susceptible to the redback spider’s bite, the only variable is how much venom the spider decides she has to spare to pump into our bodies.

I’m no medical man, I would think there must be the other variable to take into account as well, and that must be how we each deal with this venom as different humans with different reactions and different resistances.

That said, I suppose it is feasible that if a redback spider is in a position to inject a maximum amount of venom, then yes, possibly each and every one of us irrespective of how our immune system works would end up in hospital.

Is that what you are saying?

I have to say, it is a bit of an eye-opener that your reaction took 24 hours or so before it really kicked in, and also a bit scary. My early assumption that I am one of the lucky ones who does not react to the redback spider bite seems more like wishful thinking now than a statement of fact.

Best thing, for all of us, is to try and avoid getting bitten, though that’s not always easy to do.

Thanks for sharing your story and taking the time to do so, I’m glad you are now back to full strength and, more importantly, that you didn’t drag home some crummy kind of swine flu and pass it on to your beloved wife :-)

When is her birthday?




Brendan Temme March 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Kim, awesome story man. enjoyed it thoroughly reading it in great detail.I love this blog page, i first stumbled upon it a few weeks back and im glad there are still people still putting posts/stories up.
Wow ey, what a story. you went through quite alot and just as you said, all over a little black `mistress` with a strike on her back and fangs and venom enough to make us very crook.
I was amazed at your story and how the symptoms slowly came on you, not straight away.
Where does that leave you and your backyard shed now lol ?
have you been back in there since going to investigate with the flashlight ? :)
Amazing though, it just goes to show that we dont take precautions when we realy should be. ie wearing gloves, shoes etc when out in the shed or garden.
Its a thing we completely forget or just brush under the carpet because we think`oh yeah it wont happen to me, ill only be in the shed for a short while` or something similar.
Hows the wife now ? is she still amazed that you were actually right in the end and it wasnt `man flue` lol ?
Funnily enough, if you read my earlier posts, im actually looking for a little black mistress to keep as a pet believe it or not, and do you think i can find one anywhere ? my god, the trouble im having trying to find a female redback its incredible. As i stated earlier in my posts, i live in an apartment complex so i dont have a backyard, shed or anything like that, but i do look through hard waste rubbish collections sometimes (very carefully) and sometimes going for a walk down the street, ill turn over a few bricks on someones front lawn. move a few pot plants etc, ill be wrapped when i find one and ive got a small enclosure for her with a proper lid with air holes etc
Great story, loved reading it.
Take Care,
Brendan from Melbourne.


Ali March 8, 2013 at 12:44 am

Vacuming the house yesterday afternoon at around 3.00pm, I felt an odd stinging sensation on my collarbone. At the time I was wearing a baby carrier (not worn before, but put in garage night before), so assumed it was the strap rubbing me. As the stinging pain intensified, I began to wonder if I’d somehow been stung by a bee – odd, since I was inside. I sat down in the study for a minute, baby still in carrier, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a spider descend from my head. I flicked it off and promptly lost it. Panicking that it may have landed on baby, I whipped him out and took carrier off. Checked bub all over for bites. It dawned on me this may be the reason for my now intense, burning pain. I checked it out in the mirror to see a mildly red area, but not much else. Ventured back into study where I found the culprit dancing on my keyboard. Hubbys research concluded it was either a young or male redback, so we followed all suggested first aid. I likened it to not much more than a very bad bee sting, had an antihistamine and some nurofen and laid down. This morning I woke up feeling ok, but as the day has worn on, the pain has gotten worse. The bite has turned into a large welt, ive had a few slight dizzy spells, the burning now extends up my neck, I have a terrible headache and earache, and also pain down my arm. I’ve gone to bed and have developed a terrible case of the sweats. I actually feel ok, considering, but it seems to be a very delayed reaction! I’m just so grateful it wasn’t my baby that was bitten!


BobinOz March 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hmm, that’s why I don’t vacuum my house.

Seriously though, I think we are all pleased that it wasn’t your baby that got bitten, sorry to hear you have though.If you were envenomated, it is unlikely to have been a male red back. Males can bite, but it is not thought that they have venom. I would get it checked out by a Doctor, we do have some other spiders that can cause problems, so it’s best that you get it seen to.

Sometimes it’s best in cases like these when you have seen the spider to take a photograph for identification purposes. You could, I suppose, even kill it (he started it!) and pop it in a bag.

Hope it all clears up and you get better, maybe you could let us know how it turns out.




Brendan Temme March 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Another great story you`ve added here.
My eyes opened quite widely when you mentioned seeing it out of the corner of your eye and flicked it off.
Yes luckily it wasnt the little `bub` touch wood.
Just as Bob mentioned, killing him as he did start it :) and keep it for medical purposes if need be.
Keep us posted on how it all goes, it wil be interesting to see what happens.

Regards Brendan from Melbourne.


Ali March 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I did actually photograph it before getting my revenge. I’m not sure how to, or even if I can, upload it on my mobile, so might be able to try on desktop when home? :o)


Brendan Temme March 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Good stuff :)


Ali March 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm

PS, I feel much better today ;o)


Brendan Temme March 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm
BobinOz March 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Yes, that’s good news Ali.


mike March 21, 2013 at 11:17 am

I have been searching all over the internet trying to find out info about the sticky sweating skin you described having. I was bitten by what I think to be a wolf spider yesterday and my symptoms sound exactly like yours. How long did that sweaty and sticky wound site last for you?


BobinOz March 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I honestly can’t remember Mike, at a guess I would say it was gone the next day. According to my critter Bible, Wolf spider bites can cause itchiness, red welts, bruising and a rapid pulse rate. It can also lead to nausea, vomiting, faintness, leg weakness and prolonged headache.

How are you feeling?


Pip March 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I imagine from a medical point of view any envenomation could cause localised sweating. The redback bite causes an excess of this. It looks like its about to break down, like a burst blister, but the skin is still intact. It’s very odd when it happens.


BobinOz March 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Yes, my skin stayed intact too. Nothing burst or blistered for me, just very sticky and sweaty.


mike March 23, 2013 at 1:26 am

Thanks for your input on the sticky skin. I have bigger problems now. I ruptured my Achilles tendon yesterday while playing basketball and surgery is set for next week. Do you have any experience with that?


BobinOz March 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Yes, it’s like being shot in the back of the leg when it happens, isn’t it? Crutches and rest for you, I think.


mike March 26, 2013 at 8:54 am

Yep, lots of hopping around and crutches. No weight bearing on foot for weeks to come. I found that there was a link between the antibiotics the doctor prescribed for my spider bite and my Achilles tendon rupture. The Bacitrim I was given has been shown in studies to weaken the tendon so I can blame that spider for all my troubles. No fun.


BobinOz March 27, 2013 at 12:44 am

Would have been nice if someone had mentioned that before you continue playing sport! That spider has a lot to answer for.


Janene March 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

That is very interesting. A few weeks after having the anti venom, I developed swelling and weakness in my left ankle suggestive of a sprain, yet I had not (recently) sprained my ankle. Hope you make a good receovery. :))


BobinOz March 27, 2013 at 12:49 am

Gosh! There is something in this, people should be made aware of this. We need a medical man in here, what’s going on?

I hope you both make a good recovery :-)


mike March 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Just so you know I am from California and enjoy your blog site. Thanks for your interest in my comments.


BobinOz March 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm

It’s a pleasure Mike, thanks for commenting!


Leanne herbert March 29, 2013 at 8:51 am

Hi I was getting some mail out of my letterbox, when I pulled leaflets out and something either stung or bit me on the back of my shoulder blades, I have never ever felt such excruciating pain in my life, I had a bad burning sensation too, gees, was in agony for the next ,2 hours, put ice pack on it to help with pain and swelling. I have a white spot bite withe red around not sure what bit or stung me has anyone any ideas please, I live in brisbane, Australia

Cruisey girl


BobinOz April 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Hmmm, I’ve not heard of this kind of bite mark before Cruisey girl, so I don’t know what it might have been. Some kind of spider would probably be the most likely, but it could also have been either an ant or a wasp.

Anyone else have any idea on this?

If you find out what it was Cruisey, it would be great if you could come back here and tell us.

Hope you are no longer in pain, cheers, Bob


Jacko April 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

As an Australian, I am more intrigued about these regular bank holidays you speak of than the spider bite. As far as I know we have 9 public holidays a year – most in the first half of the year, granted. Yes, Australia is full of poisonous creatures – spiders, snakes, jellyfish, crocodiles etc, but it’s not that much of a dramatic place to live. We are brought up knowing not to pick up things without thick gloves in areas where ‘reddies’ or funnel webs might be lurking, and to watch where we walk and to make some noise when walking through areas that are ‘snake-prone’. You really have to be quiet unlucky to get seriously ill or die from spider bites nowadays (although the snakes will generally take you out without quick and sensible first aid). Bottom line is, Australia is a great place to live and really relatively safe. At least it’s not boring.


BobinOz April 4, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Bank holidays in Australia aren’t that straightforward, last time I looked Queensland had 11 a year, have you not read my post All About Australia’s Bank Holidays?

Now then, as for the dangers of life in Australia, I couldn’t agree with you more Jacko. All these poisonous creatures that share our environment are mostly not aggressive, and all it takes is a little bit of care and attention to avoid problems.

And, in a strange way, having to stay alert in certain situations does make it much less boring. I get that. I was careless when I was picking up those cuttings at dusk, but I was (I’m pretty sure) wearing thick gardening gloves. That critter bit me on the wrist!

I’m learning though, you’ve had a lifetime of this, I’ve only had five years. I’ll get there :-)




Brian May 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm

my mum had just gotten bit by one.shes feeling a tiny pain in her arm.


BobinOz May 31, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Hopefully the pain has gone by now Brian, is she all right?


Vince June 5, 2013 at 3:09 am

I have been bitten by a FEMALE funnel web spider the males are more venomous I was sick for three days and my leg ballooned to three times its normal size I’d hate to think what a male could do.


BobinOz June 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Dang it Vince, are you all right now? Bitten by a funnel web, that’s nasty!

As you say, it’s the male that is the most venomous, so lucky yours was a female, although lucky isn’t really the sort of word to use when you’ve been bitten by a funnel web!

Did you get any antivenom? How did it happen? Did it hurt? Tell us more if you get the chance, I hope you have fully recovered by now.




Evonne June 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Hi I have been bitten 5 times by a red back. The first time I passed out for 4 hours. The other times I just got a bit sick and dizzy. But I was wondering the long term effects 5 bites might have in my system? I’m having health problems after 2 years and Drs can’t work out why my veins are collapsing.
Yes I got a tattoo of a red back on my shoulder as a pet.


BobinOz June 23, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Bitten five times! Gosh, they must love you, you are their caviar!

Seriously though, I don’t know for sure but I do know that Deb, who commented a little earlier (January 2013) does feel she has suffered some long-term effects from being bitten, I suggest you read her comment to see if there are any similarities between her and your symptoms.

Let us know if there are, maybe we can then look into it further.




kurt June 26, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Got biten on my lower back by a male redback burns like crazy with sweaty skin around the bite. 48 hours later still burns I got my revenge as I must of squashed it when it bit me.


BobinOz June 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Serves him right Kurt, I hope that burning goes away soon.


Elizabeth July 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I was bitten by a female redback on my ankle 12 days ago. I felt an initial ‘pinch’, but then not much else. There was only a slight red mark, and some sweating. An hour later I had excruciating pain radiating up my leg and into my groin. Felt nauseous and shaky, had a few vomits and thought to myself now might be a good time to head to hospital. I was however, home alone at the time (and by this stage rather panicked) so I called an ambulance and was whipped off to hospital. Had some morphine and an anti-nausea medication and didn’t feel too bad at the hospital – pain was bearable and vomiting had stopped. I still had a headache, but figured that would settle. They discharged me several hours later with pan forte and told me to come back if I got worse.

Well, I never got worse. 3 days later I went to my GP to get a certificate for work – seeing as I still didn’t feel very well. I had a terrible headache (which I had since the bite) and I felt nauseous most of the time. The leg was painful, but bearable. I also had the shakes – big time. I was telling my story to the GP as she checked my blood pressure. When the reading came up she looked very concerned, and pressed the button to check my BP again. Another look of concern showed on her face. Rechecked it again, this time with a manual machine. BP was through the roof, HR was 130s. Temp was 38 degrees. So off I went to the hospital – was taken straight through – despite a very busy waiting room – and given three vials of anti-venom intravenously. I felt much better, but still not 100%. They kept me overnight and sent me home at lunchtime the next day. The day after that the shaking and headache returned, as did the pain in my leg. Back to ED, seen straight away again, had myself one more dose of anti-venom and felt improvement about an hour later. I went home later on that evening, even though they wanted me to stay for observation. I couldn’t bear the thought of spending another night in hospital.

It has now been a week since my fourth dose of anti-venom. I still have pain/numbness in my leg and it makes walking hard at times. It is also hard to sleep. It feels like a constant pins and needles sensation in my leg. My GP has now prescribed me a medication to help with this – fingers crossed I get some relief soon and am able to get back to work.


BobinOz July 4, 2013 at 1:40 am

Now that’s what I call a reaction to a redback bite, sounds like you’ve been suffering Elizabeth. I think it’s incredible how much pain these tiny critters can cause with such a small amount of venom. I hope you get better soon.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, I know it will help others who have been bitten to work out how to deal with it. Four shots of antivenom, I always thought one would be enough.

Cheers, Bob


Rocko July 22, 2013 at 3:50 am

When I was 23 I was bitten by an infant female redback just slightly smaller than the size of a five cent piece in autumn. Happened when I was lounging on the couch watching a movie in the dark (wearing t-shirt & shorts); felt something on my leg, thought it was a mosquito (which I’m allergic too and the ones here in Western Australia have Ross River Virus too in my area) and slapped it hard by relfex. Felt a sting and more movement, so I asked one of the other family members with me to turn on the light and got my surprise: bastard bit me on the leg when I killed it.

Well being a fourth generation Aussie and a large part of the extended family having a medical background to boot, we all knew what to do for me: hospital. I’ve got this blood condition where my blood clots but doesn’t easily unclot (“Factor V Leiden, 100 fold” if you’re curious) and, throwing in a high pain tolerance too, in the past when poisonous/venomous things have stung/bitten me, majority of the time I get by with a slight reaction and nothing else. Unfortunately I also have a long list of other health problems (asthmatic, epy-pen for a cat allergy plus allegies to other flora/fauna here including grass, allegies to some key medicines, etc) and with redback spider venom being of the type to muscle cramps, it was a lightning run to the emergency ward for me.

Bitten leg was useless within 30 minutes of the bite (locked straight), torso and back were locked straight shortly after and I had trouble with my left arm too. On the pain scale for me it was a four (probably a seven or higher for anyone else: I’ve had multiple compound fractures from past sporting injuries that felt worse), but being an asthmatic too the damn venom triggered a series of asthma attacks. Doctors were unsure how the anti-venom would work on me (after checking my record and seeing how poorly tranquilizers, pain killers, all but one asthma treatment have worked on me in the past due to my amusing blood chemistry), but risked it anyway after consulting my cardiologist (pro-tip: medical bracelets are worth the money) and I was fine within the hour after they administered a double dose of it with all symptoms stopped except the pain response that petered out over the next 24 hours.

Verdict was I probably would have survived it if I’d done nothing as long as a clot didn’t form and give me a secondary issue (stroke, heart attack, etc) as I’d previous had the snake venom test to diagnose the Factor V Leiden condition in the first place with no side-effects, but take it from me that you don’t want to risk anything when it comes to Australian animal treatment. I’ve travelled 80% of this continent and had enough close calls that to nearly get done over by a redback in my own home was the definition of “everything is trying to kill you in Australia” for me.

And it’s been a great bar story ever since.


BobinOz July 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Hi Rocko

Interesting story and it again shows just how dangerous these tiny critters can be to some people, sounds like you are most certainly a high risk person when it comes to getting bitten, stung or envenomated.

I’m glad your treatment was successful and yes, there are some lessons to be learned here, in particular about that medical bracelet. There is also a new thing here in Queensland, not sure if its national, where you can opt to have your medical records (securely) available online so they can be quickly accessed in an emergency.

If there is any consolation, at least the redback came off second best :-) – but as you say, after travelling all around the country, to have come a cropper on your own settee in your own house would have just been quite ridiculous.

Cheers, Bob


Nicole September 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Lucky you! I’ve been bitten twice, one on each leg, in the last 2 years, and both were excruciating :(. Both times I was too late to seek medical attention, missing the “window of opportunity” for antivenom, so was stuck sweating it out. The first bite took 10 days of severe muscle cramping from my ankle to my hip, couldn’t walk, nausea, barely able to eat, fever and headaches. The second bite was just a few weeks ago, and lasted only 7 days, and the symptoms were less severe. Unfortunately, I live in the middle of nowhere (literally. My town has about 100 people, a pub and a servo haha) so no chance of hospital either time. The second time the bite got infected, too, due to being on my foot (and yes, the pain traveled right up to the hip yet again). So I ended up on antibiotics as well as the painkillers!

To add to the situation… I can’t take painkillers! Unfortunately, my immune system can’t tolerate them, they knock me completely flat for hours on end.

Luckily, these guys don’t hurt most people too bad. Unfortunately, there’s a select few of us who suffer the worst pain imaginable. And to help you compare, I’ve given birth! 😀


BobinOz September 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

“…and lasted only 7 days” – Only seven days??!! I like the use of understatement. Sounds like you have suffered really badly, twice.

I think you are also saying that for you, being bitten by a redback is more painful than giving birth. As sorry as I am for the pain you have suffered Nicole, and I certainly hope you don’t have to go through that again, I’m real glad I didn’t go through it.

Given some of the comments above, I may not be one of the lucky ones as I originally thought, it may just have been that I did not get injected with too much venom, so I’m not getting too complacent, that’s for sure.

Cheers, Bob


Nicole September 15, 2013 at 8:55 am

Yes, “only” 7 days was lucky haha. Basically, for my case, imagine the worst cramp you’ve ever had, multiply it by about 3, then stretch it the length of your leg and make it last for 7 – 10 days. By about the 5th of 6th day, the cramp feeling lessened off to more of a pulled-muscle feeling, and only ached when I moved or at night when I was trying to sleep. I’ve read some of the other comments, some people have had a pretty bad run of it with these little guys. The only reason I say my bites were worse than childbirth is that (for me) giving birth lasted only 2 hours. This lasted up to the 10 days. I’m glad yours wasn’t too bad, you are lucky :).


BobinOz September 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

It sounds horrible Nicole, and yes, I am very glad that I have been lucky. I really wouldn’t want to be going through that kind of pain for so long. Stay away from the spiders! :-)


Karen September 25, 2013 at 1:42 am

Thanks for this great blog! I stumbled across you after finding a small colony of Red Backs under our garbage bins… With a little one who loves exploring the yard, I sprayed them with enough bug spray to ensure that they were well dead! – Better to be safe than sorry! Here’s hoping I never find out what reaction I might have if bitten :)


BobinOz September 25, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Yes, you are right, you can’t be too careful with children around. Definitely better safe than sorry, no child should have to go through the kind of pain that some people have talked about in these comments.

Cheers, Bob


iphox October 23, 2013 at 10:18 pm

My hubby received his second ever redback bite today. He has localised sweating and a bit of pain and nausea… but I can tell you its much less severe than the man flu! Good on ya for still getting blog comments on this post after three and a half years 😉


BobinOz October 24, 2013 at 1:06 am

Man flu is a serious problem, I hope you are not making light of a very significant medical condition that can render a man armchair bound for many days, hardly able to fetch a stubbie from the cooler.

Anyway, glad to hear your hubby is pulling through; two red back bites, they like him :-)


Hayley November 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I am also a shining beacon of fantastic luck and have been bitten twice!

When I was 7 (ish) my parents owned an outback pub half way between no where and totally lost, It was the early 90s when it was perfectly acceptable for all the local children to run around a bar barefoot and fancy free while the adults got themselves totally smashed, anyway, as I remember it, My beloved bouncy ball I had scored for probably 2 cents out of a gumball machine rolled under a step so I reached in to grab it, straight into a redback red nest – I pulled my hand out covered with sticky web and a few of them still attached. I screamed. a lot.

For the first few minutes, even though I was hysterical, I didn’t feel anything but I knew they had bitten me – Then it was just burning, searing, horrible unforgettable pain.

There was no hospital option, because there was no hospital, There was no panadine forte or codine or morphine or any of that good stuff, Instead an aboriginal elderly man grabbed hold of my hand and sucked the poison out, spitting and sucking for what seemed like hours – while I screamed some more.

I remember vomiting and convulsing and being surrounded by (heavily intoxicated) panicked people chiming in about what sort of crazy bush medical remedies I needed, I was made to drink some strange concoction which I now believe was Ouzo and milk and who knows what else, the aboriginal people brought me some odd green lotion that smelled like eucalyptus to rub on the bite, it burned my skin and there was talk about how I should ingest a dead redback spider, because that’s not weird! Luckily my parents had sobered up a bit and must have decided that you know.. I was traumatized enough for one day.

I was sick for a while, maybe a week, with fever and what I would describe as a cramp in my hand and arm and general feelings of “ick” and “blergh”.
Yes. I am scarred for life, thanks for asking but I’m still alive so, can’t complain. Thanks old man!

The second time, more recently, I was bitten on the foot while sweeping the garage. I live in the city now and am 27, my neighbours are nice but not nice enough I don’t believe to offer to suck poison out of my foot so off to the E.R it was. Again with the searing pain and agony and convulsing.

Remember nothing! Blacked out, nearly died, ended up in hospital for 8 days. Booo! not amazing. not. at. all.

My parents don’t drink anymore
This gets me out of having to sweep the garage, ever again. (woot!)

Watch out for the Funnel Webs!
x Hayley


BobinOz November 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Ha ha, Hayley, your post made me laugh like a drain. (Not the bit where you nearly died, the rest :-))

Those were the days, eh, when sucking the poison out was an option. As for actually eating a spider to cure yourself, that’s great that one! In hindsight of course, those elderly aboriginals with their unusual cures appear to have treated you more efficiently than the hospital who took 8 days to get you back on your feet. Shame they didn’t have any of that green gunk, or Ouzo and milk :-)

Seriously though, I suspect there are very good medical and scientific reasons as to why your second bite caused you more grief than the first and I’m sure the hospital knew what they were doing. We will watch out for the funnel webs, I think you need to watch out for those redbacks.

Thanks for sharing your story, brilliant :-)



Rob November 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

I got bitten Saturday afternoon 16/11/13. I was bitten on the instep of my foot due to having unlaced volley sandshoes on, with no socks. U was head down under a bush in my garden & I described the bite as feeling like a red hot needle being driven into my foot.

I didn’t locate the biter but a medical officer neighbour examined the bite area & my symptoms & felt sure it was a redback spider. I had pain & redness about the bite area & it felt like bad sunburn. Also I kept getting sharp stabbing pangs of pain. I awoke during the night & all my toes were numb. This had abated somewhat by morning & eased further when I walked about for a while.

The bite mark showed up more plainly the following day. I took panadol & applied ice packs. I was a bit scared at first, thinking it may have been a white tailed spider bite but my neighbour assured me it wasn’t.


Pip November 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Why would you be worried about a white tail bite? White tail “necrosis” is a myth perpetuated by people out of ignorance. Usually a friend of a friend. Even Doctors still diagnose a white tail bite without the victim knowing what bit them, just based on any signs of necrosis. People then go away and tell everyone it was a white tail, because the Doc said so. And so the myth continues.

The only useful study done only took into account captured spiders after a bite. Out of those verified as white tails (around 130), not one single bite led to necrosis.


BobinOz November 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Interesting Rob, but slightly different from my experience. I don’t think I felt the bite itself, but I felt the pain kick in afterwards. I also could see no evidence of a bite mark, just a round circle of red burning sticky skin about the size of a large coin.

But maybe the reaction is different for each of us or perhaps each red back bite is different; there is also the possibility that for one of us it wasn’t a red back bite.

I agree with Pip though (hi Pip), I’ve seen no real evidence to prove we should be concerned overly about white tail spider bites, the stories of necrosis seem to be just that, stories.

Glad to hear though, that whatever it was that bit you hasn’t left a lasting effect.

Cheers, Bob


LongTimeMother November 23, 2013 at 8:28 am

Hi Bob. I copped 3 bites from a redback in my shoe and wrote about it here. http://hub.me/af6VT

My one remaining question is whether or not other people suffered the same intense ‘itch’ in the days after the ‘burn’ as I did.

I still don’t know whether or not it was simply because I was bitten three times, or whether others had the same desire to chop their limb off during the healing process. Did you notice an itch?


BobinOz November 25, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Interesting question, I can tell you for sure that I did not get any itching at all, once the pain had gone that was it. Quite a few people have commented above and have described what it was like when they were bitten, two or three of them have mentioned itching. Have a quick skim of the comments and you will see them, no doubt.

Plenty of people don’t mention itching though, so it would seem that sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

Cheers, Bob


Christine Finlay November 26, 2013 at 12:31 am

My Daughter was biten by a red back spider in Perth last Friday 22/11/2014 on the back of the lower leg, it swole up and became very red and bluish at site of bite. She did get medication from the doctor but had to have crutches to walk as her lower leg was badly swollen.The pain was excruciating according to her but I also think she may have had a bad reaction as she usually needs antihistamine tablets for the sun and she had been recovering only days previous of a salivary gland infection /virus.


BobinOz November 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm

That sounds painful. If you read some of the other stories above from people who have been bitten, the pain suffered varies enormously from person to person. Sounds like your daughter was somewhere in the middle.

I do hope she has fully recovered now. How old is she by the way? Is she a young child or an adult daughter?

Cheers, Bob


jenn December 19, 2013 at 10:28 am

hi bob
well yes im a survivor of the great redback bite club to.
just yesterday in fact. was cleaning the pool when I felt something on my neck, brushed at it and a pin prick sort of feeling followed by a spider running across my chest and just for good measure bit me again!!! biatch………
with my 2 yr old asleep I went inside and phoned my bro who works outdoors and wld know about it. as I only saw the black spider up too close for my liking, and not the red I was worried. you know all the stories etc.
well, I think as it was on my neck and bit twice, I started to have problems breathing say 20 mins in. so, grabbed sleepy toddler out of bed and headed to medical centre.
this is where it turned pear shaped. by the time I got to the counter I was in trouble, sort of explained the bite was rushed in to treatment, given steroid injection, no good. given antihistamine, no good.also put on nebuliser as im asthmatic. was now a little more worried, dr came at me with adrenalin and said don’t worry I called the ambulance.
I was concerned re 2 yr old seeing all this but she was fine mummy was spidey bit she said to all who listened.lol
this was my main problem, also the burning was horrible, plus the deep thunding pressure.i however, had sweating around the bites but due to the other problems was breaking out in hot sweats everywhere.
I was kept in hospital till late last night, no antivenom given as I stayed conscious and was treated conservatively.
today I still have burning pain at the sites and lymph glands under arms are real sore. as are most of my muscles, I think due to all the adrenalin I was given.
breathing today is better, but still a bit tight. and overall, feeling bloody lousy.
the thing I feel best about is the support and help im getting from everyone. help with toddler, food offers. im resting up in bed, not that I feel I can do much else really. and saw yr tale and thought id offer my close call.
we are all lucky with red back bites, they can be very nasty. but in my case twice bitten twice shy.
I don’t want to see another aussie icon spider again in my life thank you.
cheers jenn


BobinOz December 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Hi Jenn

Well, that critter got you good and proper, didn’t it? I think, unfortunately, you must be one of the smaller percentage of people who have a bad reaction to this bite. That’s only one theory though, others in this thread have suggested that we can all have reactions as serious as yours if we got bitten, or envenomated, badly enough.

In your case, your reaction to the bite was quite swift with breathing difficulties after just 20 minutes. Interesting that despite what you went through, you were still not given antivenom; made me wonder why, so I did a little research.

As a result of that, I’ve added an important update to the above post that I think you, and everyone else, would be interested to read.

Hope you make a full recovery and avoid getting ‘spidey bit’ in future :-) and thank you for sharing your story.

Cheers, Bob


harvie December 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

nice post Bob, I had to google them today to see if they kill, I was picking up pumpkins today and one was on top, i managed to flick it off without it inflicting any bites on me.

Glad to know that no one has done for over 50 years from them :)


BobinOz December 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Yes, let’s hope that continues :-)


jenn December 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Thanks for the video bob. Yes interesting the antivenom is in question after so long. Dr said as I was ok they wldnt use it as it can make u sick later days after. I was happy to put up with my symptoms after I had breathing under control. I’d like to think the antivenom has saved lives over the years as some who posted here suggest it has. I think the best we can do is be more aware of spiders lingering around and take care.


BobinOz December 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Yes, very strange about that antivenom after all these years, who would have thought? Maybe it’s always been the other stuff that has saved people, the adrenaline, the steroids and the antihistamines, who knows. Not getting bitten is certainly the best defence :-)


Willie Ase December 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I’ve just been bitten by a large female Redback (guarding around 3 large eggs) whilst servicing my sons buggy,have to admit it is quite painful right now and it’s been about 3 hrs since the bite, I am on oral morphine which seems to ease the pain a bit -the pain level is around a 7 out of 10 but manageable.


BobinOz December 27, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Three hours without any kind of serious reaction is usually a good sign I think, hopefully you are okay now. Are you?


doc ??? January 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm

spiders are cool i like them


Sue Kerrison January 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Hello I was looking for information about spider bites and having read your red back spider piece realise that I have also just been bitten by one. We were at the pool and one of the Dads killed a red back spider with his thong(very Aussie). Then on the way home I felt a stinging sensation on my tummy . As I was driving I could not look for @30 min. At first I thought it was a mossie bite as I do react to them as well but that night I saw the pimple bit and little blisters and the red ring. On research and looking at images on ‘google’ I am convinced it was a red back spider. I administers my own first aid of ice and solve cream and now 3 days later it is still a bit red but no more itch or sting . I too was amazed to read that most red back bites are not deadly . I guess its a fallacy that we all heard in the song A Red Back On The Toilet Seat.!!


BobinOz January 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Yes, the powers of the red back spider are greatly exaggerated back in the UK, as you found out. I was once told by somebody that you couldn’t kill them with a thong, their fangs would pierce right through them. I was told you needed to smash them with a telephone directory :-)


The only thing I would say though Sue, is when I was bitten there were no blisters, just that read sticky patch the size of a large coin. Have you seen images of red back spider bites that include blisters?

Did anyone else who is watching this thread get blisters when bitten by a red back?

Either way, sounds like you have got off lightly just as I did, if you read some of the other stories above though, not everyone has been so fortunate.

Cheers, Bob


Rocko January 19, 2014 at 9:57 pm

@Sue Kerrison : If you didn’t find the spider, it probably wasn’t a redback spider bite. Maybe a bull ant?


Katrina K February 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I just spent the las hour reading all of the comments and am now more fascinated than scared of the red back . I googled “do red back bites hurt” and here I am.
I was emptying the steel framed pool in the back yard and noticed that at every pole there was Atleast 1 red back. Something stung my toe. But didn’t see what it was and couldn’t actually see where I had been stung/bitten. Let’s hope it’s not . Although it’s kinda a once in a lifetime experience. Also had a run in with what I believe was a funnel web the other day . Who needs skydiving for an adrenaline rush!!


BobinOz February 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Have you been working in the garden with your thongs on Katrina?

It’s now probably about three hours or so since you were bitten by that unknown critter, so if you haven’t had a bad reaction by now, you ‘probably’ will be okay. Notice how I was careful to use the word probably, because let’s face it, who knows?

Please do let us know if anything develops or even if nothing does. And stay away from that funnel web; nasty nasty!


Katrina k February 11, 2014 at 8:04 am

Everytime I go out the back yard I think maybe I should be wearing something other than my thongs. My backyard runs onto a creek with some bush so one of these days I’m sure I won’t be so lucky.
So anyway it looks like It wasn’t a spider bite. Whatever it was caused some warmth in my calf muscle and then nothing.
Have a new spider to deal with today.. Not sure what it is tho. Do all spiders carry their young on their back? If not any ideas which do? Found this one burrowed in a pile of ashes from where we use to have bonfires. I was diggin away at the pile and didn’t even realise I had him or her on the shovel. Until I saw mini versions of it running off of it. Ahh covered in goosebumps now.
I have a pic of this one I’ll try to uploadit


BobinOz February 11, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Sounds like it could be a wolf spider, they have a bit of a bite to them, so don’t get too close. They are also quite capable of killing a cat or dog with a bite, so if you have pets, be extra careful.

Have a look at my post about wolf spiders, I’ve got a few pictures on there, are we talking about the same spider?


lewis February 16, 2014 at 2:08 am

did it realy hurt


Samantha February 26, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Hey there
My 9 yr old daughter just got bit or stung by something in the park next door to our house whilst getting our cat. She has said that it stung like she wanted to scream but didn’t want to scare the cat!!!! it has left a tiny red dot, slightly risen but no sweating in local area, being top of foot and no swelling. that was at 5.15pm with temp of 36,8…seems all good. time now is 6 10pm and after website research haven’t been able to distinguish what it may have been. do you know of any garden spiders that leave a sting like mark…any insects…we could not find any in the spot outside where she was tagged!. Any suggestions would be great, and how long should we be keeping an eye on her???????????????


BobinOz February 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Well, it’s probably been 24 hours or more now since she was bitten or stung, if she hasn’t reacted by now then it’s very unlikely that she will do. Always a worry when you don’t know what it is that has got to her, hopefully it was just a wasp or something and no harm has been done. Obviously keep an eye on the wound, make sure it doesn’t go bad.

How is she now? Is she okay? Brave girl not wanting to scare the cat :-)


Samantha February 28, 2014 at 9:35 am

Hey Bob,
Yeah she was a brave girl! She has aspergers so I was amazed at her calmness to the very obvious red dot bite/sting site. Kept an eye on her temp, all good and no local swelling or swetting. She did complain of pain in her foot and groin-that worried me going up to that area. I gave her some Claryntine and that helped with the situation even though antihistamines can hide symtoms. we kept a close eye on her until bed and she had no further reactions. We are surrounded by redbacks in our backyard and park next door, aswell as other creepy crawlies and bees/wasps. Does getting our backyard sprayed by a professional really help get rid of venomous bitters????????? or can they survive the insecticides? And does the regular garden spiders cause a concern aswell?
Thanks, Samantha.


BobinOz March 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Glad to hear she is okay Samantha, looks like what ever got her didn’t do too much damage.

Spraying certainly helps inside the house and in some outside spaces close to the house, like the garage and shed, but I’m not really sure about spraying the whole backyard. I really can’t see that working very well.

We’ve only got a couple of spiders that can really hurt, that’s the redback and the funnel web, perhaps we have a few more that might hurt a bit, but they won’t cause any permanent damage. Remember, nobody has died in Australia from a spider bite since the 70s.

I’m not sure your little girl was bitten by a redback spider though, I still think it might have possibly been a wasp. Best defence when in the garden is to be very careful where you put your hands.

Take care, Bob


Aussierager March 14, 2014 at 12:30 am

Hi. I have always had a fascination with spiders and being victorian naturally i am intrigued with redbacks. I am no expert but have done much homework on this subject over the years. I found this blog after searching redbacks today because i caught a large one in my backyard. I have had run-ins with them 5 times in my 47 years of life and thusfar have been lucky to never been bitten though it has been close 3 of those 5 times. So i wanted to share what info i have collected over the years.
1. Male redbacks are purely black though they have the same body shape as females. They can give a painful localized bite but thats usually the worse of it for 99% of people.
2. Females have the red stripe, depending on the “redness” of its stripe depicts its venom strength, the deeper the red the more venomous.
Many that have posted above are correct when saying these next things. Yes it depends if she pumps u with venom AT ALL or how much venom she wants to use as to how sick you may get, Yes this depends on how long since she fed or how much u scared/annoyed her, yes it depends on the usual factors of age/frailty and/or pre-existing medical conditions as to how badly you react. Yes they usually roll themselves into a defensive ball so being bitten usually occurs when your limb is in vicinity of her eggs or placed right in her web or on top of her as yes they are not normally aggressive. All your posts giving the various degrees of venomation is exactly that. Read the posts and see those that have suffered 2 bites or more have ALL been hospitalized, why?.. Because they have absorbed more venom. Bob was lucky and got bitten by a baby or one that had recently fed.
Lastly where is their favourite places to live.
Hot/steamy areas such as mulch beds, pine needles but mostly where ever METAL is found, such as your toolshed, garage, downpipes/gutters. Just like snakes and mozzies they are cold blooded and require humid/hot temps to be active which is why you rarely hear of snake or spider bites during winter. They have infra-red seeking ability to seek out prey as well as using their other weapons such as web silk tracers and feeling vibrations. Whenever moving things from a metal area or shed its a good HABIT to always assume there will be spiders there because all spiders like the warmth metal can give.
Finally there is many schools of thought on what to do if you do get bitten.
The main one is do NOT try to suck the poison out. ER will have difficulty getting a localized sample and the person sucking the poison has the potential to absorb the poison also. The best idea with any bite is a pressure bandage at site and above and immobilization of limb and person to slow the venom movement and then seek medical advice ASAP.
I believe some people may read some of the above comments and think they need not worry about medical advice. This could be a FATAL mistake because although we have not had a death by redback in 30 years some of the above people sound like they would have died if they had not seeked medical advice in time.
Remember, its not how many times you get bitten, its how powerful the venom is and if she gives you a full dose or only a little. So my advice is ALWAYS seek medical advice. Its better to be safe than sorry.
I hope my addition to this blog benefits even just one person.


BobinOz March 15, 2014 at 12:10 am

Thanks for your tips, information and thoughts Aussierager. I’m don’t I agree with everything you say, and something I am really trying to get to the bottom of is whether it is the amount of venom pumped in that determines the human reaction or whether it is the person’s biological make up that decides whether they will have a reaction or not.

Wasps, for example, can cause anaphylactic shock in a minority of people and the rest just say “ouch”. That’s down to the biology of the person bitten, is something similar happening with redbacks?

One thing I am going to correct you on though is the treatment. Specific medical advice says that you DO NOT apply pressure bandaging and immobilisation as this will worsen the pain. Seriously, what you are suggesting is BAD advice. Attempting to prevent the movement of the venom will just increase the local pain to excruciating levels.

Apply ice or a cold compress, and seek medical help if more than a mild reaction occurs.

Snakes, on the other hand, just to be clear, do require pressure bandaging and immobilisation to prevent movement of the venom around your body.

Cheers, Bob


Aussierager March 15, 2014 at 6:25 am

Hi again. Yup u r right about no pressure bandage 99% of the time. I should have pointed out that u only use a pressure bandage if u are bitten multiple times to slow the venom movement down. Multiple bites only. Yes it will increase the pain but with multiple bites the toxicity of the venom is greatly increased so although redback bite venom moves slower than other venom when considering multiple bites and thinking a high invenomization has occurred its better to go thru the pain to ensure the venom doesnt leave the lymph system. And always immobolize the limb whether u pressure bandage or not, movement of the affected limb will increase the venom movement and does not add to the pain. One such comment above said they sat down and felt numbness in the lower limbs and it wasnt until the next day after they awoke and started moving around that they started feeling more ill. So yes dont pressure bandage single bites as the pain is worse but yes DO immobolize the limb like u ewould mostly all invenomizations to help prevent venom moving thru lymph system. As to how it affects somebody. A single bite from a redback will react differently for all people just like a wasp or bee sting does. It also depends on body weight, age, pre-existing medical conditions and how much venom you receive.
I can almost guarantee though if you get 2 or more bites and the bites all have a decent dose of venom then no matter who u r it will be bad for you. As my advice said…. Its better to be safe than sorry. Thus my reason i say immobilize limb and if you think u can stand the pain pressure bandage the limb. To pressure bandage only increases the pain but doesnt increase how the venom acts. Better to b safe than sorry is my motto and although i know it would b painful i would still use a pressute bandage just to make sure the venom didnt spread. Thats me. I hope i cleared up my mis-information.


BobinOz March 17, 2014 at 12:26 am


Every single piece of advice from various sources that I have checked regarding the redback spider bite says you should NOT APPLY A BANDAGE, so I’m sorry, but I really cannot suggest anyone reading this to follow your advice.

I’m not sure where you are getting your information from, but none of the government websites or respected health websites agree with what you are saying. You keep saying it is better to be safe than sorry, I believe it is safest that people follow the official advice from the medical experts who know about how to deal with a redback spider bite.


Aussierager March 17, 2014 at 4:50 am

Hello again. You misunderstand me. My point was multiple bites only. I state yes the pain at bite area WILL become unbearable as this is what all medical advice says. So i am agreeing. I am saying only do the pressure bandage on multiple bite victims and only as a last resort.
The aim of a pressure bandage is to restrict the venom moving thru the lymph system.
Redback venom moves slowly so in 99% of cases i agree do NOT use a pressure bandage, its only the very rare cases of multiple bites and/or should only be done when medical help is hours away such as in the middle of the bush. So i am agreeing with you for most cases. Also please note that medical advice says a pressure bandage will add to the pain but NOTHING MORE. It wont make the bite area “breakdown”, it wont make the victim get sicker, it ONLY adds to the discomfort/pain.

What all medical advice does say is IMMOBOLIZE THE LIMB. Immobolization does not require pressure bandage, does not add to the bite sites discomfort and DOES slow down the venom movement.

These were my points. This is what i would do. In ALL cases of redback spider bite a person should always seek professional medical advice and use internet data like this blog as a reference only.
Hopefully i have cleared up my personal advice. A single bite should not have a pressure bandage but should still be immobolized is my final point.


BobinOz March 17, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Paul, I have not misunderstood you at all, there’s nothing to misunderstand. Please don’t keep arguing your point, your advice goes against popular medical opinion and as such is confusing.

Please do not come back and argue your point any further. Medical advice on this is very simple and straightforward in redback spider bites…



BobinOz March 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Paul, we may not see eye to eye on the treatment side, but I do thank you for highlighting to me (see below) the fact that my page didn’t actually help anyone looking for first aid advice.

Cheers, Bob


BobinOz March 18, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Update to all:

I have now added some first aid advice to the very beginning of this post and here’s why.

I’ve recently been searching the Internet for redback spider first aid information, mainly because of Paul’s suggestion about multiple bites. What struck me more than anything was the overload of information about this spider and how difficult it was to find first aid information really quickly.

Lots of pages like mine (guilty) spoke at great length about the redback spider but you would have to plough through all sorts of information until you got to the bit that might actually help somebody.

People desperate for quick answers on what to do must have been pulling their hair out times.

Hopefully those landing on this page won’t need to do that any more.

Cheers, Bob


jenn March 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm

hi bob
jenn here I was bitten before Christmas twice on the neck, had an anaphylactic reaction etc. good on you for adding first aid advice. I have completed first aid courses and advance first aid over many yrs, but let me tell you if you need help you know fairly quickly. my training went out the window for a minute while my girlie scared instincts kicked in. as I was on my own with a toddler I knew to get help and fast in my case. to tournequay??? or not to didn’t come into it. nor did immobilising area as it was the neck. to be honest stupidly I collected my lil ones dvd player and snacks to keep her amused b4 I thought about my immediate danger, these typical actions of a mum were pointed out by the dr, while giggling saying only a mum….wld get kids sorted while dealing with an emergency. I think they were glad of her favourite dvd for distraction in the end. it was after when googling info on redbacks that I found yr site so if some help is given to others in such a situation, then you can be proud of your efforts.

in the end it took about 4 wks to be feeling properly well after my clash with the mighty redback. everyone will react differently, as I said my case was severe probably because of being on my neck and bitten twice. but im here to tell the story. so all is well that ends well.

cheers jenny


BobinOz March 20, 2014 at 12:20 am

Bitten on the neck twice? Ouch and ouch! What a nice Christmas present. I hope your little girl didn’t take too long deciding which DVDs she wanted to watch. As the doctor said, only a mum :-)

What kind of treatment were you given? Did you have antivenom? Or did they manage it by other means; antihistamines, adrenaline, steroids, that sort of thing? Four weeks feeling grog, not good, but glad to hear you have recovered now.

Thanks for the kind words about this page as well, it’s appreciated. Cheers, Bob


BobinOz March 20, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Oops, my bad. Jenn has just emailed me to explain that she commented just before Christmas about her personal redback spider bite experience which was fully documented here.

Sorry Jenn, I forgot. Doh!


Caroline March 26, 2014 at 1:00 am

I live in Paraguay, South America and checked to see if it really was a spider bite I got this morning!!
This morning when I put on my workout clothes (which had been drying outside overnight) I felt a prick on my thigh. Of course I rubbed the spot, only to feel something squish. So I couldn’t really identify what bit me by the time I got said creature out of my pantleg.
It actually is only a tiny red spot, like a mosquito bite, but the surrounding area is sweaty and sticky. Hurts like a burning stick poking into my leg. Vinager is my cure all, so I took a papertowel soaked in vinager to place on the bite. Eased the pain, but since this is my second time, I know it’ll take a while so completly go away.
My son was bit in the neck when he was 2 and he had horrible muscle spasms. Emergency room and 24 hour hospital stay with antihistamines and I think steroids. No antivenom.


BobinOz March 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm

From the pain you describe and that sweaty, sticky spot, yes, sounds to me as though you were bitten by a redback spider or one of his relatives in your country.

Vinegar, interesting choice. It’s what we use here for jellyfish stings, works too.

Hope you don’t suffer too much Caroline, and I assume your son is fully recovered now?

Cheers, Bob


arjo April 12, 2014 at 2:17 am

great blog,

what the ‘net should be, many stories, common topic. put together the whole, you have a concice, accurate source of info.

my house mate got bit. stab pain, violent sick, rash n swollen site; red back. she’s OK tho, bin to hospital, sent to fend for herself. just swelling n pain. its coming n going tho, which is odd.

the point of my comment was to one of the Brendans hunting for the buggers. gotta say, beautiful idea. I’ve fish n fungi in tanks, n a spiderbox is a great idea.

Look in pits. underground cable junctions. y’know, plastic boxes with a concrete slab on top, telstra or the power co, etc stamped in the mud. in the footpath or verge. they’ve always got fat mommas in em. in my experience.

to get in, U’ll need a key, pretty simple. a stout L shape wire. pit will have some oval holes in it, bit shorter than an inch long (id use a hanging plant pot bracket from bunnings) . make the short of ur L enough to fit in, handle long n shaped to be useful. put ur lug in the hole, rotate 90 degrees, lift up. drag slab clear. we’d carry a can of mortien to blast in at this point. but tuck in with ur sample jar. I’d put money on finding a big red back there if u’ll find em anywhere.

thoroghbred Aussie; as kids ya just learn to respect the fact that things out there can kill ya. if ya lift a sheet of whatever, lift it away from you, so scared snakes can flee. know what web a wolf spider web is, a daddy long legs web is, n a red back web is. what critter is what. long legs prey redbacks, if their around ur OK. wolf n jumpers won’t hurt ya. n they all eat flies. n mozzies….

good luck in ur hunt 😉


BobinOz April 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Some great tips arjo and thank you for the complimentary words about my website, it’s always good when I get those from an Aussie.

Now, if I’m reading this right, every time I turn my water supply off from down in the street (something I’ve done quite a few times due to various plumbing activities here) it sounds as though I am risking acute pain when I plunge my hand into the darkness of that pit and start struggling with the (almost impossible to shift) key like tap thing that shuts off the mains.

Next time I shall either take the suggested Mortien or, if I fancy getting myself a new pet, a jar.

Cheers, Bob


Lisa May 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I was bitten by a red back on 27/4/14 around 10:30pm. The bugger was wrapped around, upside down, the top of my thong (flip flops). Now, I can see I was initially bitten 3 times (larger welt like scars) to the left part of the top of my right foot and twice (tiny red dots) to the right part of the top of my right foot.

Initially I just thought it was the plastic part of my thong as when I put it on as it felt like the tiniest pin prick / pinch. It was when I was bitten for the 3rd time I knew something was amiss. Took off my thong (2 other small bites to the right of foot must have happened at that point in time) and had a look. The red back was still wrapped, upside down, around the thong.

I put said spider and thong into a bag, locked up the house and drove straight to the hospital, only 5mins away. Yes, took bag with me so there would be no debate over it being a red back bite at the hospital.

I won’t go into all the dramatic details of being rushed through emergency in wheelchair, Dr’s and Nurses attaching heart rate monitors etc.

Within 10mins of being at the hospital (approx. 15mins from bite), top of right foot was extremly red, swollen (3cm’s in diametre) and shinny (sticky sweat, which I didn’t know at the time). My blood pressure wasn’t good, nor was my heart rate.

The took bloods and administered anti-venom, fluids and anti-nausa via drips.

I am alergic to antihistamines so they could only give me panadol for the pain and the swelling. My foot by this stage was burning and throbbing with pain. Within 30mins, the pain was so bad, I had the thumping in the ears (I think you all know what I mean) and it had radiated all the way up my right leg to my groin / hip area.

I also got so cold my teeth were chattering and my whole body was shacking. They went and got me a warm blanket (50 degs appartently when they take them out of where ever they do).

I was discharged at 2am the following morning after the last lot of bloods came back ok, my heart rate was back to normal, as was BP etc. I was given a 10pk of Rafen to take every 4hrs for the pain (told to take neurofen thereafter) and told if I felt the slightest bit off to go straight back. They also told my BF what to keep an eye out for.

Trying to make a long story short, I was unable to walk on it for 4days, could not even have anything touch any part of my right foot, was either throbbing in pain, pins and needles like sensation, burning or sooooo itchy.

On the Friday morning (4 days later), I went back to my local GP. Aafter finding out I had just had a shower only 30mins prior (still a bit of sticky sweat stuff on top of foot) was told I was to stil limit walking, keep foot elevated and to comtinue to do so until sweat on top of foot was completely gone.

I was able to walk with a bit of a limp on the Saturday and almost back to normal on the Sunday. Although, after walking or standing for too long (approx 1hr), was getting light headed.

Today, 16 days later, I’m almost back to normal. Last week (after work) was sooo fatigued and whole of right leg during the day (I work in IT so can sit for majority of the day if needed) felt very heavy yet very weak to walk on. Last Wednesday (not sure if due to cold weather) leg was throbbing on and off all day, had to keep massaging it.

Yes, it still gets itchy at times where the bite marks are, more the larger now welt looking 3 to the left. Last night foot was swollen (seems to be a daily occurance). And, still I am getting pain (more uncomfortable then hurting) in my right groin, hip, knee and calf – main area of discomfort is the right groin.

Until I read comments here, I didn’t attribute that the headaches I’ve been getting since Friday night last week (everyday since) to the red back.

I was also advise by my GP, if I went back to work (he gave me a 5 day medical cert) or walked on it too soon (no more sweat on top of foot) I could hinder the healing process and cause longer term side effects.

Also, the brochure I was given by the Dr in emergency stated it can take up to 5 days, or longer for recovery.

And yes, I still have said red back in one of those Dr issues little jars with the yellow lid! BF insisted on taking it after asked by Dr if I’d like it as a souvenir…


BobinOz May 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Well, that’s another redback spider horror story to add to the list, I really did get off lightly. We’ve had a few people get hit really hard by redback bites, but yours took a hold of you pretty fast compared.

Sounds as though it’s lucky you live as close as you do to the hospital Lisa, otherwise it could have turned out worse. Did you know you were going to react badly? Did you feel some kind of immediate effect to make you go straight to the hospital?

16 days later and almost back to normal, that’s pretty scary too, one day would’ve been nice. Although for one or two people in this thread, which I’m sure you have read, symptoms seemed to persist for a long time and I truly hope that doesn’t happen to you.

I hope you make a full recovery very soon and hopefully in no time that (I assume) dead redback spider sitting in a little jar will become a laughable object of a very long and funny story for you.

Cheers, Bob


Lisa May 15, 2014 at 9:06 am

Hi BobinOz

I had heard, since a little girl, that red backs were venomous spiders, so my natural reaction after being bitten was to go straight to the hospital. And yes, very lucky indeed I live only 5mins drive away.

I found your blog very informative and of comfort to me knowing that my current symptoms are part and parcel of post bite reactions. I do feel for those, written above, where their post bite symptoms were a lot worse than mine and, by the sounds of a couple, went on for months! I hope they are all fully recovered by now.

Thanks Bob, I do hope so. A work colleague was bitten by a white back, and still over 3mths later gets arthritis like symptoms in that whole leg. Yes, I’m sure in a month or so, said spider in jar will be passed around to friends with laughter by all.

BTW, well done on setting up a site for those bitten to share their experiences. It does go to show, people do react in different ways.


BobinOz May 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Hi Lisa

Well, your natural reaction turned out to be the right reaction given what happened to you, but I think it’s pretty rare for this spider’s bite to take a hold of somebody so quickly and to such effect. As you say though, there have been some people with even worse symptoms.

When I first created this page I didn’t for the life of me think that so many people would come here and tell us their stories, but I’m really glad that they have and it’s actually everybody who has taken the time to do that, including yourself Lisa, that makes this page so helpful.

So we can all pat ourselves on the back :-)

Cheers, Bob


jenn May 15, 2014 at 9:26 pm

hey Bob, I just wanted to say yes totally agree. Im the one who was bitten in December last yr ended up with anaphylactic reactions. and recovery was about 4 wks later.when I was bitten, I googled the web to see if what I was experiencing was all due to the little spider. I to had thought they were deadly, but now after experiencing it, I was grateful for your site to, one get info, others experience and to remind myself it was normal what I was feeling. although, not everyone has a reaction like mine or even LIsa’s, its good to have somewhere to go to warn others just how bad and quick the effects can be. and yet some, like yourself escape mildly. weird huh.

anyhow, great job with the site. I read every post as it comes to my inbox, amazed at how many ppl come into contact with the little beasts.

oh btw, Lisa its now may but I’m yet to laugh about my encounter, its still fresh. I have however, sprayed our property for spiders and pests, and educated my lil 3 yr old NOT to touch any spider. better safe than sorry.

cheers jenn


BobinOz May 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Hi Jenn

Good to hear from you again. Yes, I think it is good that people have somewhere to come to, both to say what happened to them and also to see what happened to others. Like yourself, I’m surprised how many people are getting bitten and I’m amazed at how many stories have been added by people like yourself.

As for the effects being bad for some and mild for others, I’ll be adding another post next week to explain that in full. When that post is live I will announce it here.

Cheers, Bob


BobinOz May 21, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Hi everybody

I just thought I’d let all of you know that I have just added an update to the end of this post. As we know from the comments, some people bitten by redback spiders suffer enormous pain and end up in hospital, others get off much more lightly.

What makes the difference? Is it us or the spider? Fortunately I have been able to ask this question of one of Australia’s leading experts in this field, please see my latest post…

The Redback Spider Bite: Are Some People Immune?

Cheers, Bob


Mitch May 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm

i got bitten on the foot but it was pretty much the same as yours.
i was putting on roller blades when it bit me. i didn’t feel it at first but when i took them off and a red back scuttled out it started hurting. im only 11 and i didn’t go to the doctors.


BobinOz May 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Sounds like you have been as lucky as I was Mitch, although sometimes it takes a while for a reaction to occur. Hopefully you were bitten at least 4 or 5 hours before you made your comment here, if so it looks as though you’re can be just fine.

Cheers, Bob


Jeanie June 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm

My almost 5 year old grandson was bitten 4 times by a red back last Saturday. Must have been in his clothes – bitten on the neck. ER saw him – gave a one off antihistamine liquid and pain relief, then sent him home. Later that day his legs began to ache terribly and the pain was more intense, also had a couple of bouts of breathlessness when upset. Went back to the hospital and was admitted for observation – pain relief dose increased to help him cope. Through the night he got the shakes and they were considering the antivenom – by morning he had improved so he was sent home again. Apart from being a bit grumpy he seemed Ok, but mow, Wed. has developed an uncontrollable cough – says his throat is “itchy”. Pulse and temp are normal, a bit worn out by the coughing but doesn’t appear ill. Has any one else had this reaction?
Interested Grandma.


BobinOz June 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Your poor grandson, I feel for him and you, it’s horrible to see young children who you love so much suffer.

It seems that many people have had some quite diverse reactions, but I’ve not heard of an uncontrollable cough or itchy throat before. Quite a few people do read these comments so if anyone else has heard anything, I’m sure they will join the conversation.

On the positive side, you’ll grandson does appear to be getting better, I hope that continues. For some, if you read the comments above, symptoms have lasted for quite some time. As I say, everyone is different.

I hope the young lad makes a full recovery soon. Cheers, Bob


Lee Clarke August 13, 2014 at 11:47 am

You ignored the doctors advice and got a beer?? What an idiot.


BobinOz August 13, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for your contribution Lee, absolutely invaluable. What else do you do with your life?


Narelle October 16, 2014 at 8:49 am

I know this is an old bog post, but I just stumbled across it this morning as I was looking for information on redbacks. My daughters school has lots of them, always finding them in the classrooms etc. I emailed the school principal about it yesterday as when I moved her bag yesterday morning there was a redback on it. I know it didn’t come from our house as I hate spiders and we get our house and garden sprayed every year. Anyway she has had a mosquito bite on her thigh for a day or so, has been a little itchy but not like a normal mozzy bite. This morning I noticed that she has a distinct red patch around the bite, I guess its about the size of a 20 cent piece. I am just a bit concerned now that perhaps it is a redback bite. She was complaining about it stinging yesterday morning but other than that she is fine. Maybe I should give her an antihystamine when she gets home from school or is it too late now.


BobinOz October 16, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Hi Narelle

Obviously I can’t say for sure, but that distinct red patch around the bite is exactly what I had, so it could possibly be a readback bite. My doctor told me that if you don’t suffer a bad reaction within two or three hours, you’ll be just fine. If you’re daughter hasn’t shown any reaction, then she will probably be okay.

If you are unsure though, or concerned, I would definitely take her to the doctors. But some bites just sting for a while and then go away, others can be much more painful as you will probably know if you’ve read some of the above comments.

Good luck, I hope your daughter is well. I’d be trying to get the school to organise a major pest control though if I were you.

Cheers, Bob


Simone October 30, 2014 at 12:06 am

This was a good read because I wanted to know what it was like to be bitten. When I was little I had a rusty nail go through my toe (fleshy part) yes it hurt too. I’ve come very close today. I was on my lunch break out back pushed my chair in & my finger felt something funky under the handle. When I turned my chair over I cringed because there were 3 spider sacks & in the corner was the big fat mumma REDBACK. I nearly died not literally lol.. I so glad she didn’t have her way with me.


BobinOz October 31, 2014 at 12:03 am

A close escape Simone, if you had have died, you would have been the first one since the 70s :-) I’m not sure if the comments on this post have helped you much, people’s reaction to these bites varies wildly, from it doesn’t hurt very much at all, to aaarrrgh!

Hopefully you don’t get to find out which one applies to you.


Ian November 6, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Just got bitten today little devil got me twice.
Went to the medical centre for advise as I had been bitten on the back and had severe pain in my shoulder, underarm and it felt like someone has given me a dead arm.
I was given an ECG, blood pressure check and all was fine so was sent home.
It’s now about six hours since the bites and every muscle in my body is aching.
Hoping like he’ll the symptoms go away soon……very very painful!,


BobinOz November 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Sounds nasty, as you probably know if you’ve read many of the comments here, reactions differ vastly from person to person. Hopefully your aches go away soon, but for a very small number of people it seems to linger for a while.

I hope for your sake you’re not one of them. If you get the chance, let us know how you feel in a few days time.

Cheers, Bob


Donna November 22, 2014 at 10:15 am

Hi Bob

I just stumbled across this blog today. I thought I would share my story with you. 9 years ago I was bitten by a very large female twice on the back. At the time I was feeding my 3 month old son who had been just sent home from hospital with a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. A whole other story to tell (lol). I was bitten on New Years eve around midday. I had my nightgown on as we all know when we have babies we are either too tired or too busy to get out of our pyjamas. It felt like a mozzie bite at the time. The pain went straight to my groin and down my legs. My husband proceeded to kill the spider and I mean really kill it


BobinOz November 24, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Hi Donna

Sounds painful, but it also sounds as though you didn’t need hospital treatment. Hope the pain did not last too long. Cheers, Bob


Loraine Fromm December 6, 2014 at 9:32 am

I had two flat red patches come up on my right arm. I could not see a bite mark so put some itch cream on it and went about my day. That was a few days ago but since then I have had many of them come up on my right arm then on my neck chin and face. That was followed by more on both my legs. They bubble up like blistering and the first two looked like they were spreading out and softening the skin a bit like the white tail bite. I have never seen a white tail here but have been bitten by one.
I am allergic to a lot of things that bite so I tended to ignore this until this morning when I move my bedside table to clean and bingo – there was a red back so I went hunting and found another near the floor by my tall boy.
I don’t know if anyone else has had this kind of reaction but these things itch and are driving me crazy.
Not sure if I was bitten by the red back or am having some other kind of allergic reaction.


Hilary December 6, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Chicken pox??


BobinOz December 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I think you need to pay a visit to your doctor to find out whatever it is. As Hilary says, it could be chickenpox, but it could be any number of things, best to see the doctor.

Good luck, do let us know how it goes, Bob


Loraine Fromm December 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm

No it is definitely not chicken pox, I had that as a child.
I have not stopped working as it helps with the itching but I think it is running out of puff now. There is less itching and some are beginning to clear up.
As the first one stopped swelling I could then see a hole in the center of it so can only presume it was a bite of some sort.
I told myself on the fifth day, if it has not killed me by now it never will.


BobinOz December 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Starting to sound like some kind of allergic reaction to me, I’d still be inclined to check it out with a doctor. I’m really not sure that if something hasn’t killed you by the fifth day it never will is a hard and fast medical rule :-)


Hilary December 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Lorraine, just to say that it is definitely possible to get chickenpox twice. I had it as an adult and gave it to a friend of mine who’d already had it as a child. She wasn’t best pleased! I really hope it isn’t for your sake as I don’t think I’ve been so ill as I was for those 3 weeks and the exhaustion stayed for a long time afterwards.


Sue Carter December 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

Hi Bob and fellow Bite Sufferers
I was bitten 40 hrs ago. The Beast was on a garden chair here Western Victoria. I didn’t feel the initial bite, I just had the impression a very nasty mossie had got me on the wrist. It was 9pm. I went home and went to bed. At 1am yesterday I woke up because of the pain in my wrist. Being a nurse I took two panadol and put an ice pack on it and tried to go back to sleep. At that point I’d rate the pain as 5/10. At 0300 the pain was 7.5/10 and I figured I’d been bitten by a spider, that I needed stronger pain killers, and I’d get over it soon. I went up to the hospital. At the hospital I was happy to consult with the Emergency Nurse. At this point I had a pink area on my wrist about 6cm in diameter and a knawing ache around my wrist. The area of the bite felt damp with sweat. The nurse gave me 10mg endone, 2 naprosen and a tetanus injection.
I went home. The drugs had no effect and the pain got worse. I then Goggled red back spider bite and started reading all these great posts. I was really bummed out, as Christmas is a week away and it looks like this bite can make you sick for ages.
At 8am I went back to the hospital and saw a doctor. He offered ongoing analgesics or antivenom. We decided to keep going with analgesics but that I could come back for the antivenom if I wanted to risk it (given the side-effects). At 8am I took another endone and a Phenergan. My blood pressure was up and I felt cold.
The pain increased to 8.5/10. It went from my finger tips to my elbow. It was a deep ache that came in waves every few minutes. At 11am I vomited. I2 noon I took 10mg endone, one phenergan and two Panadine Forte. This had no effect.
At 3pm I went back to the hospital. My blood pressure was up. The pain was 8.5.
At 4pm I had the antivenom. I chose the IV route because I was so cold that I thought if I had an anaphylactic reaction to the antivenom the doctors would have a hard time getting a drip into me. Better have one ready. Anyway, they gave me two ampules of the antivenom IV. I left the hospital an hour latter. At this point the pain was the same, but the bite mark on my wrist was fading. Because I hadn’t seen the spider, this effect of the antivenom confirmed beyond doubt that I had been bitten by a red back. Three hours after receiving the antivenom the pain was gone! I vomited again at 7.30 pm, again with no warning. Went to bed and had a great sleep.
It is now 20 hrs since I had the antivenom. I have a slight ache / soreness centred on the bite area, pain = 1/10. I feel great.
I was warned that at some point in the next few weeks I might develope serum sickness. If I do I’m to return to the hospital. The management is apparently a short course of steroids.
If you are reading this because you’ve just been bitten – good luck, I hope your outcome is as good as mine. Cheers Sue


BobinOz December 22, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Hooray for antivenom! Obviously it worked for you and brought your pain under control pretty quickly. I’m not sure if you clicked through on those links towards the end of the post, a story broke about antivenom not working and then Prof Julian White, who I interviewed personally, defended antivenom quite strongly. If you read my interview with him he clearly says that antivenom can prevent weeks of misery and pain in some patients.

Looks like one of those patients is you.

I just want to make one correction to your excellent comment about the redback spider bite and that’s to say that I hope anybody else who gets bitten has an outcome as good as me, not you :-), because yours was much more painful than my experience. Although in the end you had a pretty good outcome yourself.

Have a very Merry and pain free Christmas.

Cheers, Bob


alison December 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I have been in Oz for 23 tears and had my first redback bite while cleaning out under the house 45 days ago. I had local pain (not immediately) and as it was between my 4th and little finger, the joint swelled and I had difficulty moving those fingers for 3 days. I also experienced vomiting and gastric upset for 24 hours, as well as feeling nauseated and unwell for the following 3 days. I did not seek medical advice as I am a nurse and tend to be a bit blase about these things, also, I have better things to do than spend 3 hours in ED. All ok now but I advise that you go to the doctor if you have any of these symptoms as a prescription of antihistamines would help. The advice about teaching children of the dangers is good and spraying any areas which could harbour the critters will help to prtect them, although I am not generally an advocate of spraying. Good luck to all coming to Australia – I hope you settle quicker than I did!


BobinOz December 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Yes, I think it’s good advice for anybody who experiences nausea or vomiting to seek medical assistance as soon as possible, better to be safe than sorry. Like yourself, I’m not a big fan of spraying, but when you have kids around the place I think it makes sense to have it done.

One bite in 23 years isn’t bad, but I suspect there are people living here who have never been bitten in the whole lives. Glad to hear you are all okay now.

Cheers, Bob


Karl December 21, 2014 at 7:56 am

I did a workout just down the road neat home where they are getting a new sub division ready. I was throwing some rocks around then pushed a bolder around for 20 mins then ran home. With in 30-60mins started to feel off, dizziness, lethargy, shortness of breath, chills through the arms & back with the hairs on my arms standing up & feeling very weak. We went to ED as I felt I may have a problem with my morphine pump (had since 2000 spinal passion). After all sorts of blood tests, xrays, CT scans, after 4 days they thought I may have been bitten by a redback.
At no stage did anyone check for a bite & I was to stuffed to check my self. My morphine pump was checked out, all ok.

Unable to work out the cause I was sent home. I have been in & out of hospital over the past 3.5 weeks. I have no pain, however I have a high heat rate resting 85-100 (normal 54-60).
I get tired quickly, I went Christmas shopping yesterday with my wife, felt like I had run a couple of marathons & fell asleep in the car.
I did find what looks like a bite on the inside of my ankle- 2 puncture marks surrounded by a red circle about 6mm across.
It’s nearly be a month & I still feel off.

Is there anyone else out there that has had a similar event.



BobinOz December 22, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Hi Karl

Sounds like you’ve been suffering, and yes, quite a few people have mentioned high heart rates after being bitten. Have you read all of the comments above yet? Lisa, for example, from May 13, 2014, had quite a bad reaction and displayed some of the symptoms you appear to have had.

Somebody else in this thread, can’t remember who, had symptoms that lasted for ages, much longer than a month. But I do hope they get to the bottom of your problem sometime soon and you make a full recovery.

Cheers, Bob


Johnny December 28, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I was bitten on the hand by a red back when I lived in Brissie bout 10 years ago. Don’t remember too much pain but did have a faint red line going up my arm. Apparently there is a gland in your armpit that stops the poison from spreading. I went to the chemist and she told me this. No big deal really but always best to be safe rather than sorry.
I would say the hairy caterpillars they have are worse. You don’t build up any resistance to them so every time they nail ya its worse than the last time.
Caught a juvenile Gwardar snake ( bout 18 inch long) working at night in the Pilbara earlier this year and called the onsite snake handler up to relocate it. He told me the young ones can be deadly because they haven’t worked out yet to regulate their venom and let ya have the lot. Never heard that before but could be plausible.
The most deadly I came across must be a certain woman from NSW. She was simply drop dead gorgeous haha


BobinOz December 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Hi Johnny, yes, I’ve heard the same thing about juvenile snakes, more dangerous than adults I’ve been told. I followed an eastern brown with my camera on this post…


And said I wasn’t concerned about the snake because it was so small, many people have since told me that’s when they are at their most dangerous. Same thing, they don’t know how to do dry bites to warn you as adults snakes do and when they do nail you, they hit you with all of their venom.

Scarier than that NSW woman :-)

Cheers, Bob


Cas December 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

I found this while looking for information on red back bites in kids, I’ve recently discovered that around the outside of my house is swarming with red back spiders, lot of them huge! I don’t want to kill them but ever since last summer when I got bitten by a tiny almost unseen baby red back spider I’ve been very concerned about my kids coming in contact with one. I have three little boys, (3yrs, 18months and 3weeks old).
My experience with the bite was awful! The pain was beyond anything I’ve ever felt before!!
It happened when I was putting my eldest son back to bed after a nightmare, I was half asleep and lent against the window frame, after going back to bed I thought maybe I got a splinter from the wooden frame, after taking a quick look and finding nothing I went back to bed, I woke 40mins later because of the intense pain in the tip of my right middle finger. I took a look and saw it was red and around the nail bed was swelling. I didn’t get any sleep and by 6am my finger was huge and around the skin around the nail was coming away from the nail. It looked gross and the pain was unbearable, I decided something had bitten me and searched my sons room, remembering the window I found some web near a crack in the paint, I convinced my sons dad to get the spider out alive, I know red backs appearance pretty well and when I saw it I was terrified I would die from a tiny little spider. My sons dad was sure if I was gonna die it would’ve happened already (I knew he was right) but he was wrong when he said I had survived the worst. My finger swelled more and my skin peeled away from the nail so the tip of my finger was a bloody mess, on the next morning I was shivering and twitchy and the pain had started coming up my arm, my mum came to help with the kids as I decided I wasn’t able to do much for them myself in this state, I made an appointment with my doctor who told me that less than a third of bites actually required treatment’s and the worst was over and she sent me home with pain killers. The painkillers didn’t work at all, it was awful until day 3 when it peaked and I nearly chopped my finger off, (NOT JOKING). then it just felt super on fire kind of hot until my nail fell off day 5 then everything was over and the skin healing by day 7.

I had an awful long drawn out horrid experience with a baby spider, I’m terrified of the huge ones I’ve been seeing this summer around my house. How bad are they to kids, or is it like adults ‘different for every individual’?


Cas December 28, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Also as for sweating around the bite, I was sweating all over since the pain started.plus the teeth chattering shivers and my twitching muscles. It was truly horrid. I always loved insects and spider, snakes and all those thing others find scary.. Until that bite, it made me realise something little fragile and seemingly weak can completely disable me very easily


BobinOz December 29, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Hi Cas

Sounds pretty awful what you went through and understandably you are worried about your children. With good reason as well, a young child bitten by a redback would be very likely to suffer far more than an adult from the same bite. If you look through these comments, many people have mentioned that, and Jeanie (see comments above around June 2014) tells of how her grandson was bitten and how it affected him.

Like yourself, I don’t think it’s a good idea to kill spiders, but I think in this instance you have to put your kids first. I would get your house treated by a pest control company and also have them check the outside in the garden. You need to remove these readback spiders from the area because, quite simply, our children come first.

Good luck, Bob


chris January 21, 2015 at 12:44 am

I got bitten a few years ago. Made the mistake of putting my shoes on without socks on. Have to say it burnt like hell and it didnt take long for the venom to travel from my foot to my groin area. If i could discribe the pain it felt almost like intense growing pains when you were a young child. Ended up at the hospital and needed anti-venom. Definitely not something id enjoy going through again. I was told by the hospital staff that redback bites are often much more painful than a lot of snake bites!!


BobinOz January 21, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Sounds painful, not sure it was the lack of socks that was the problem though, does anybody know if a redback bite can penetrate a sock?

Maybe you should get into the habit of bashing your shoes on the floor before putting them on to make sure nothing is inside.


Lee Murrah February 10, 2015 at 8:38 pm

I was gardening near Geraldton,WA and had the same experience but the pain lasted 3 days. No redness or bump at area of bite but lots of localized sweating.I found that baking soda or ground up anti-acid tablets gave a lot of relief. I thought it might have been a Mouse Spider also since there was a round hole in the soil where I was digging barehanded.


BobinOz February 11, 2015 at 12:36 am

Localised sweating could be anyone of a few spiders I think, including Mouse Spiders and the Redback. Digging bear handed is not a great idea :-)

Sounds like you’re all right now.


Rick March 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm

I doubt that my wife will help me in the paddock in future. before mounting the tractor she put on all the necessary protective clothing (boots, gloves, earmuffs etc) however failed to check inside the earmuffs. of course, the red back which had made its home in the earmuff was not happy and let her know it. Being a very tough 70 year old she insisted on driving herself to Mudgee hospital where she received immediate attention at emergency. as there is now some doubt as to the effectiveness of the antivenin she was only treated with ice packs to the ear and morphine for the very severe pain. she was released from hospital 48 hours later after her blood pressure fell from a high 207 to a manageable 150. she is now resting in bed and the gate is still not repaired.


BobinOz March 6, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Maybe she’ll be right in the morning and can get on with fixing that gate. Just kidding.

Are you saying the hospital deliberately did not give her antivenom as they now believe it doesn’t work? This is something that is very much refuted by Prof Julian White, he is a renowned antivenom expert. There is a link towards the end of the above article to an interview I did with him about the efficacy of antivenom.

Hope your wife gets better soon, sounds nasty, a red back biting your ears!


Rick March 7, 2015 at 9:09 am

The doctor spent some time on the phone talking to a toxicologist who suggested that the antivenom should be given sparingly as the side effects can be worse than the bite. There was an article on the ABC science show “Catalyst” a week or so ago discussing this subject. It appears that more research and tests have been conducted recently which show that the antivenom has little or no benefit in reducing the effect of the bite. Of course for every expert who states an opinion there will always be another who refutes it.

the doctor made an informed decision to hold off with the antivenom and keep her under observation.

my RFS first aid manual states “A red back spider bite can cause a severe illness to a baby or small child but is not associated with the sudden deterioration of the victim …..seek prompt medical advice if the victim is a baby or small child”.

After my wife’s experience I would suggest that all bites warrant an immediate visit to the hospital where the medical stall will decide what treatment is needed.


BobinOz March 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Yes, I think the redback antivenom debate will rage on for a while yet, meanwhile those who get bitten will simply have to go with the decisions made by whichever doctor they get on the day. Hopefully though, your wife is all okay now. Is that gate fixed yet? :-)


Rick March 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Yes, you can’t keep a good woman down, she was out on her tractor again today giving the paddock curry. That tiny bite really did hit her for six, the ear muffs are now kept inside.


BobinOz March 10, 2015 at 8:10 pm

What a gal, that’s the spirit :-)


Luke March 12, 2015 at 7:41 am

Just got bit by one of the little critters only a small one I went to lay down on my bed and felt a little mossy bite before rolling over and finding a dead red back! It was about an hour ago and crickey the pain is getting worse as I write this, hope it goes away this post really helped by the way put me at ease when I initially panicked there’s nothing that can hurt you in New Zealand , should of moved there is all im thinking.


BobinOz March 12, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Glad this post has helped Luke, but seriously, New Zealand? It’s not the answer, there’s something that can hurt you in every country and I’m sure New Zealand has one of those somethings.

One day, you’ll look back at this and laugh :-)


aussiegreg March 20, 2015 at 4:52 pm

That’s correct Bob, I was just bitten a few hours ago..

Hers á tip..Be careful when taking photos close-up of a redback spider..Just spent 30 min on the phone to 000, then emergency and finally just went to the local Chemist..I was taking a really close shot when my finger hit its body and it lunged at me and I was sure it bit me..I started to sweat and my finger went numb and red..Looking at the marks, I think I pulled away as it was lunging and it just scratched the skin. Lucky..All I Need *S..

The spider I was taking photos of



BobinOz March 20, 2015 at 7:43 pm

If it’s any consolation aussiegreg, it’s a really good picture :-)

I’ll bear in mind your tip, maybe I will use the zoom if I get the chance to take a picture of one of these things. Pity you didn’t get a video of the spider lunging at you, that would’ve been sweet :-)

Hope you’re not too sore, Bob


Scott April 14, 2015 at 9:04 pm

I got bit by a red back about 8 years ago – in Summer – I often leave my joggers out the front and don’t wear socks in the holidays – I put my shoe on and felt a bit of pain.

Within about 20 seconds the pain got worse, and I removed my shoe – within 60 seconds the pain was quite sharp – I shook out my shoe and there it was, a redback spider.

My brave wife caught it in a jar and off we went to a medical centre. I was in significant pain within 5 minutes of the bite, and the medical centre advised me to go straight to the hospital, where I spent 7 hours in a hospital bed receiving antivenom and a shot of morphein.

The pain on my toe was very much like what I would assume a cigarette lighter to feel like – agony. I will add the caveat that for a bloke I tend to have a fairly low pain threshold and I was a bit spooked by it being a red back, but for the size of the spider the pain was as bad or worse than anything I have ever felt.

Helpful site this – overall they are a scary experience but you do get through – no nasty side effects after, just a fun story to tell – although NOT fun at the time!



BobinOz April 15, 2015 at 1:58 am

Well they don’t resort to the antivenom without good reason, so low pain threshold or not, you must have had a reaction and you must have been in a bit of trouble for the hospital to give you a shot.

Glad to hear you got over it pretty quickly, although not everybody does. We’ve had a few comments above from people for whom the pain has gone on and for months, and in some cases if I remember, more than a year.

Some of these bites can be quite nasty.

Anyway, have you started banging your joggers on the floor before you put them on these days?

Cheers Scott, Bob


Andrew Smith April 16, 2015 at 10:18 pm

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 at 2:17 am

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 :-)


Lisa April 17, 2015 at 1:04 am

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 at 3:18 am

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


Mark June 8, 2015 at 8:16 pm

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 at 8:55 pm

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 at 7:29 pm

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.


Mark June 11, 2015 at 7:31 pm

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 at 9:14 pm

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 :-)


Rani June 21, 2015 at 3:50 pm

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 at 1:03 am

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


Howard Dengate August 1, 2015 at 3:28 pm

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 at 8:32 pm

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


Thomas Kent August 8, 2015 at 11:33 am

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 at 8:33 pm

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 :-)


Thomas Kent August 8, 2015 at 11:35 am

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 at 8:35 pm

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 10, 2015 at 1:10 pm

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 at 9:36 pm

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 :-)


Rachel Wilson August 10, 2015 at 9:23 pm

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 at 9:46 pm

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


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