The Huntsman Spider: Is His Bite Dangerous to Humans?

by BobinOz on November 5, 2010

in Australia's Bad Things

Once a year, around this time each year, we have our house sprayed for pest control. It costs around $250 and I wrote about the last time we had it done in my post called Good News for Those Scared of Australian Spiders and Creepy Crawlies.

Time, I think, that we have it redone.

But before I move on to today’s post though, I want to reiterate that I do see far fewer spiders in my home here in Australia than I ever did back in England. Maybe that is down to the treatment, either way, spiders here are really not that big an issue. That said…..

An Encounter with a Six Legged Spider.

It all started when I went into the laundry room, not to do laundry, of course, but it’s where the beer fridge is. Just as I was about to open the fridge door, I saw something large and ugly out of the corner of my eye.

huntsman spiderYes, it’s a Huntsman spider.

Now, in my early days after arriving here in Australia I think I would have cruelly and painfully ended this arachnid’s life by spraying him with Raid, the insect equivalent of sulphuric acid. But today, as I always used to do in England, I went to grab my glass and piece of card to capture him humanely. The only difference between here and England is my glass is bigger.

He wasn’t easy to catch, as I stood on the stall and stretched towards him, he dropped to the floor. He landed just to the left of my beer fridge and if he’d had any sense, he would have crawled right under it. But no! As I have found with most spiders, if you stare at them they stand still.

So I stared at him, and he stared at me. We stared at each other. With his eyes fixed on mine and with the speed of a Wild West gunslinger (sort of) I swiftly placed the glass over his head.

Gotcha! huntsman spder in a glassI then took him into the garage and dropped him into the no longer used salad drawer, ironically from the beer fridge under which he could have escaped me, so I could get a better picture of him. I’d heard the Huntsman has rather large fangs and wanted to take a look. Huntsman spider fangsI’m no arachnologist, but I’m thinking those big things I’ve circled in red are his fangs. My, they are big aren’t they? Update: as several commenters have mentioned below, these are not the spider’s fangs, they are its palps. That’s comforting, isn’t it? And I can only count six legs, has this guy been in a fight? With the photo shoot over, I released my Huntsman back into the wild. Well, my front garden. Huntsman spider releasedSo he is now freely roaming Australia again, but it isn’t just Australia that gets the Huntsman spider. Virtually every country south of the equator, and a few more besides, also has the Huntsman.

Is the Huntsman spider dangerous?

Yes, if you are an insect or maybe even a small lizard or gecko. They sometimes even eat cockroaches; in my book that makes him a good guy! But harmful to humans? No. A bite from a Huntsman spider on a human may cause some local swelling and a little bit of pain, but it would be gone within a day or two. But the Huntsman is very timid and way too scared of humans. Expect him to run away, and fast!

So in reality, they look far more frightening than they are. And that, in many ways, is the problem. Beware! These spiders can grow larger than the size of adult human hand, with hairy legs too, so yes, they look scary. And they like hiding in little small spaces.

Imagine driving a car when one falls down on your lap. Nobody can really know for sure how many car drivers have driven into walls, other cars, trees or buildings because of one of these otherwise harmless spiders. So under those kinds of circumstances, yes, the Huntsman can kill (indirectly) a human.

I know it’s not easy, but the trick is not to panic. Like this guy……

Although I think that was a little bit staged, don’t you?

So how do you cope if you’re driving a car and a Huntsman unexpectedly drops in? This video demonstrates both the right way and a wrong way….

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{ 134 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon Foster July 4, 2015 at 10:58 am

I almost forgot. The mythical Iraqi spider isn’t actually a spider it is a Solifugid. Another type of arachnid closer to a scorpion than a spider. Their bite hurts like crazy, but not from venom. It is actually mechanical damage from the bite itself. The Huntsman is the largest spider in the world by diameter, the largest by weight is the Theraphosa Blondi or Goliath Birdeater, which can weigh as much as a newborn puppy at adult size. Sorry, but if you couldn’t tell, I would talk spiders all day long if I could. I envy you living in Australia, tons of bio-diversity and the spiders there are some of the coolest in the world. Take a look at peacock jumping spiders if you get the chance. What they lack in size they make up for in sheer awesomeness.


BobinOz July 6, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Hi Brandon

Yes, sounds like you do like spiders :-) Thanks for all this additional information, all of it is useful to know.

You might be interested to know that I have written about Australia’s bird eating spider…

And to emphasise your point, the Australian wolf spider which couldn’t kill a human, could easily take out a dog or a cat…

In fact, as you know, both of these spiders can kill small animals, including dogs and cats. Plenty of stuff on my website about spiders, that’s for sure.

Cheers, Bob


Brandon Foster July 4, 2015 at 10:49 am

Been reading the conversation, and thought I might add a little. I keep tarantulas and several true spiders. All spiders are venomous with the exception of the Uloboridae family. They lack venom glands entirely and live virtually everywhere with the exception of Alaska, the Sahara, and Arabia. The question you want to ask is just how toxic is the venom that the spider in question produces, and to whom or what is this toxicity aimed. For example, I currently have two species of tarantula that will give one heck of a painful bite to a human. For comparison, one person bitten stated, “I have been stabbed and that hurt less than the bite.” However, the venom from these Tarantulas has been proven to be extremely toxic to dogs, and small animals. Which means that if one were to get out and bite my rabbit, he would most likely die. Needless to say, I keep a pretty good watch over the enclosures as I would not like to be bitten either. The point is, just because a spider is not lethally toxic to humans does not mean that spot or fido won’t have a serious issue. I know people who compare their dogs to children and a loss like that would be terrible. A spiders venom evolved for protection just as much as for hunting… By the way those are definitely pedipalps. Fangs don’t have joints. I wish we had Huntsmans in GA I would probably keep two or three of them.


Katie April 9, 2015 at 10:07 am

Hi all!

I just thought I’d tell you that I, very joyfully, wasted a large amount of time reading your comments! I adore each and every one of your posts. I stumbled upon this site while researching pics of large, scary spiders. My hubby was telling me of one a friend of his showed him a pic of from when he was in Iraq. I didn’t find that spider but did find an hour or so of amusement!

Thank you, thank you, thank you :)


BobinOz April 9, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Well if it was joyful time Katie, I don’t reckon it’s wasted time, everybody needs a little joy now and then :-)

We do have some great spider stories here on this website, but nothing yet from Iraq, well, you are the first. Sounds like it may well have been even bigger and uglier than the spiders we have here!

Thank you for popping by and saying thank you, thank you, thank you :-) :-)


Katie April 10, 2015 at 11:54 am

After some research it turns out that the “scary-big” Iraq spider is mostly built of myth. (Kinda disappointed to be honest…. I love a good scary story!). It turns out that your Huntsmen is the worlds known largest spider… I did, however, (besides disproving my hubby’s creepy crawly stories) manage to scare the crow out of him with pics of YOUR fantastic arachnids!!!

Thank you sooo much for more amusement!



BobinOz April 11, 2015 at 3:49 am

Perfect! Australia wins another scary critter contest


Rick Boutcher April 2, 2015 at 8:26 pm

Hi BobinOz . . . .
I do not mean to make you blush Bob, only to make a very vivid point as to how important your blog really is. If it were not for your Blog, the understanding of the Huntsman Spider would not be growing as it is. You have given a special place for these magnificent little monsters and I can not tell you how happy I am that Harry helped you with this monumental task of educating people about the Huntsman Spider.

Without this blog of yours the information that you are presenting here would never happened. Not only do you present information about the Huntsman, but you have created a special place where people, who have had the incredible opportunity of coming face to face with a Huntsman, have a place to tell their story and in reading all the information you have developed on your blog, helped develop a positive attitude towards this amazing little monster that offers a bug free house for the payment of just being left alone to do his or her job.

Here in the Philippines things are great; at this time Two Winds has three Huntsman working. All are adolescents about 5 cm in size. Of course I have now way of proving that they are offspring of Harry, but I enjoy the thought that his family is following in his foot steps and keeping Two Winds bug free.

You and yours have a great day . . . .


BobinOz April 3, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Well, I’m just grateful that so many people, including yourself Rick, have taken the time to come here and tell their stories. It’s been fascinating, I think we have all learnt a lot together.

And as for those adolescent Huntsman working in your house now, if they look like Harry, then I reckon that’s good enough; they are his :-)


Rick Boutcher April 1, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Hello Petra . . . .
Your story of you killing a Huntsman Spider is soulful. I can understand your nerves as the first encounter I ever had with Harry sent chills u p my spin and indeed backed men u p several feet. Believe me, I am not a little guy., but to see a spider that large, that close, un-nerved me. My first instinct was to kill it simply because of Harry’s size. But it was his size that made me think how I was going to accomplish the task and then the other part of brain started thinking and I decided to take a picture and find out what kind of spider this monstrously big one was. One of the great things about digital camera technology is the ability to instantly download the pictures. Down loaded I went to Google and searched large spiders in the Philippines. Low and behold pictures of the Huntsman Spider started coming up and the picture I had taken was an exact match. Searched out Huntsman Spiders and found that their venom is not toxic to humans. No, I did not say they will not bite, I said that if they did bite you, while it surely would hurt, it would not do any tissue damage like other spider Bites can.

Two Winds is a rather large house and I figured that having a Spider this big running around it in search of things to eat could not be anything but a good thing. So the entire family, that is a number of 12 and the housemaids were educated by me in regard to this giant Huntsman Spider and that is when I gave him his name of Harry.

Harry is long gone as the Huntsman Spider lives about two years and when I met Harry for the first time he was already full grown. But, we still have Huntsman Spiders in our house. The amazing part that really make me feel good about this particular species of spider comes from the day I got the baby Huntsman Spider to sit on my finger and let me takes its picture. Tiny little thing, to grow everything needs to eat. Huntsman Spiders eat bugs and I can not imagine how many bugs Harry had to have eaten to reach the size that he was, but for sure that is a number of bugs that are not in our house.

If you ever have the honor of a Huntsman Spider moving into your house, give it a name and enjoy its magnificence. The night I saved Harry from my cat Kato and he jsut sat there and let me take the pictures I did of him, I fell in love with the Huntsman Spider. They really are your friend.

By the way, is this not an amazing blog Bob has developed here. Quite a guy and his blog has educated many a person about the Huntsman Spider.

Rick .


BobinOz April 2, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Aw, Rick, every time you say something really nice about my blog, you know you make me blush don’t you? :-) :-)


Petra April 1, 2015 at 8:27 pm

Hey guys,
Really enjoyed reading all the comments and the lovely story on Harry.
I was doing some research online mainly as i killed one today (i didnt want to!!) and ive been feeling incredibly guilty all day, i even may have come close to shedding a tear when i eventually placed it outside but i think it was too late by then.
The hunstmen was first spotted by my mother weeks ago & she asked me if i saw it when she returned home that afternoon, i did not. She said it was the biggest shes ever seen (yikes thanks Mum)
So for a few days i was nervous and on edge inspecting walls everytime i walked around the house,but eventually forgot.

Last night i was walking out to the kitchen and immedietly noticed a large dark “shape” on the wall to my right… Low and behold it was the huntsmen my mum mentioned weeks ago. HUGE.. No no MONSTEROUS size… I immedietly grabbed my phone & took a picture.
I screamed for my mum and she confirmed it was the same one she saw weeks ago & shed go call my Dad to kill it… However i stopped her & suggested we leave it be as theyre good for the house, to which i got a very strange look.
I told her i didnt want to kill or hurt anything unnecessarily and aslong as it didnt end up in my room i was fine…
Guess where the spider was when i opened my eyes this morning?? On my bedroom wall!!! I actually tossed and turned all night dreading this moment..
Im not kidding i stared at it for hours… I didnt want to hurt it but i wanted it out of my bedroom & i just couldnt see how, as it had wedged itself into the corner of the wall and the window edge.
So in the end i got a water spray bottle and was hoping to scare it away with some water but it hardly budged!! It just stretched its legs in a lazy yawn like manner and stayed put. I was losing my mind by this stage.
I then googled things huntsments dont like and one of the things was heat, so i turned on the heating system in my room hoping it would get uncomfortable and move… It didnt. I had to leave shortly for an appointment by this stage so i had to make a quick decision and i sprayed it with bug spray.. I instantly felt regret and stopped spraying and sprayed it with more water hoping to somehow “wash off” the bug spray. Poor guy struggled a bit at this stage and landed on the floor but did not curl up and die so i moved it outside into the sun for about 2-3 mins to dry it and then placed it into the garden.
They play dead so although it curled itself up a few times i noticed it stretched itself out again when it felt “safe” again so i was heaps relieved thinking i managed to avoid killing it.
As i left for my appointment i peered in at the spot i placed it in the garden and it was laying upside down :(
This is the point i actually almost cried, i felt soooooooooooo bad. I turned it back over hoping to see some life and it twitched a little but didnt move. I decided to place a bit of dirt over his body so ants dont get to him … When i came back it was gone. I searched the entire area of that garden & didnt see it.
My mum says a bird wouldve gotten to it which just makes me feel even worse.
Anyway i will never ever again kill one no matter how many nights of sleep i lose as the guilt of killing one is far worse. The poor thing wouldve just happily kept to himself or herself (i think it was a girl, very large and fat) but it had the misfortune of coming into my room.
Anyway this all happened earlier this morning and i still feel so bad and its night time now.
Ironically enough about an hour ago i spotted a small cockaroach that crawled in through my window and making its way up the same wall the huntsmen had been on today.. Had it not been for my stupidity in spraying that hunstmen, cockaroach would be toast!


nathan April 1, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Thats no good – terrible ordeal totally! The best thing – rather than just leave them be inside, that I have done is two things ( general rule of thumb )

1. IF they turn up inside, take them out side, as they are sure to end up in your bed/bedroom, simply because you think about it happening, so its going to happen!

2. Read ” The secret” or see the Video !

Now you can live in peace 😀


BobinOz April 2, 2015 at 2:21 pm

A very sad and touching story Petra, I think it’s been a very positive move on your behalf to come to this website to tell us of your remorse. Maybe your big Huntsman didn’t die in vain, maybe your story will make others think twice before they aim the bug spray at these beautiful spiders.

If you still have that photograph of her, maybe you could send it in to me via my contact page and I’ll post it here as a memorial to your dearly departed un-named spider.

Nathan – Tip 1 = good, tip 2 = are you serious? I have read The Secret myself and no matter how hard I think it, I still haven’t become a professional footballer. I know you think that Petra ‘willed’ the spider into her bedroom with her thoughts, I kind of think the spider just decided to walk there because she wanted to :-)


Shiane March 31, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Is this poison


BobinOz April 1, 2015 at 9:27 pm

The pest control? Yes, to pests it is :-)


nate March 25, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Huntsman freak out just as much as humans ( if not worse) when we have contact with each other. Normally im ok with them, so long as I see them coming and they don’t surprise me too much. I watched one walking around on my ceiling the other night while I was glued to a movie, after the movie finished, I got an empty 1kilo coffee jar for him to fit in ( his legs barely made it, had to curl up a little ) and removed him to the outdoors. The worse one (just as dam big) fell right onto my lap, freaked out and bolted str8 up onto my face/hair/head region after I pulled the Sun Visor down while driving. I clearly recall seeing a perfectly focused set of hairy legs over my left eye ball during the panic… Yes It Freaked the crap out of me too … the car swerving with me screaming , arms going in all directions trying to fling this thing off my head.. at the same time hitting the breaks, no hands on steering wheel….The car came to a stop (without incident by fluke) and I bolted right out the door, leaving the car half on half off the road… I never saw that spider again, dunno what happened to it, I looked everywhere for it and eventually got back in the car and continued. If it didn’t fall onto me and bolt up my body so dam fast – no time for me to register anything other than to freak out….if it had just clung to the Sun Visor all would have been ok , but nope :/


BobinOz March 26, 2015 at 1:06 am

Yes, this is an old tactic, used by the Spanish Inquisition. It’s called..


Now, I kind of feel for you Nate, I’m really not sure how I would react if I were driving the car and a Huntsman fell on my lap. I’d like to think I would breathe deeply, concentrate on the road, look for a safe and legal parking space, check my mirror, indicate and park.

I’d then (remember, this is still me imagining it) calmly get out, stand up, and gently brush the Huntsman off of my lap guiding him away from the dangers of the road.

In reality though, I’d probably do what you did.


Rick Boutcher March 25, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Hi Bob and Hello to everyone . . . .

I am seeing a lot of comments in regards to the Huntsman Spider here on Oz’s Blog lately. The latest is the talk about the video of the man trying to capture a Huntsman while standing on a ladder with the hopes of capturing the Huntsman in a bowl. For sure it was set up by the man trying to do the capture and the one taking the video. But it is quite obvious that neither of them had any idea about the abilities of the glorious Huntsman Spider.

I had the great honor of having Harry work for me at Two Winds. Bob at Oz posted some pictures of Harry as well as one of a baby Huntsman. While Harry is long gone, his life span of two years far exceeded, I still have a family of Huntsman Spiders that freely roam about Two Winds and take care of the undesirable type of insects.

I can not stress strong enough as to just how good of a friend the Huntsman Spider is to a house. I know that seeing one the first couple of times can be unnerving, but I suggest everyone do some serious research on the Huntsman and learn about this special critter who is absolutely an asset to have living in your home. I promise, you respect them and they will respect you and keep your house bug and insect free at no cost to you.

A Huntsman Spider is your best friend!
Rick . .


BobinOz March 26, 2015 at 1:00 am

I absolutely agree with you Rick, 100%. Whilst there are some spiders to be wary of, the Huntsman isn’t one of them. Crikey, somebody has commented here how they know someone who catches them in his hands and put some on his tongue!

I’m not suggesting that’s what we all do, but it’s becoming apparent to me that these giants of the spider world just don’t bite or harm people.

So, what’s the point in removing one from your house? They can take care of your mozzies, more dangerous spiders, other bugs and possibly cockroaches. They are your friend.

That’s what Rick’s been doing with Harry and Harry’s offspring, it’s worth thinking about.

Respect to the Huntsman Spider.


julielu March 24, 2015 at 11:22 am

Nope i don’t think the “Daddy” video was staged ! He was obviously braving it out but really messed it up in his panic. That spider was always going to run – it just waited to see which way, after the slow human moved first!

My rule is: Use the broom if i can’t reach (and then carry outside- far from the house /car).
Use a glass jar ONLY if can reach the spider easily. (Jar to cover it – must be able to hold with one hand so i can slip paper/card in between spider and wall with the other ( to prod into jar and then cover it).

I have been victimised by them in my cars- even when driving- and having them land from above after opening doors but I have never been brave enough like the guy in the second vid to “allow” one crawl on me…. eww shudder


BobinOz March 24, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Apart from one thing with that video, if it wasn’t staged, why was the camera rolling?

These are good rules Julielu, it’s the kind of humane treatment we advocate here with Huntsman Spiders, finding a way of gently removing them and placing them outside. Or you could just leave them there, let them take care of the other smaller critters on your behalf.

You have read about Harry, haven’t you?


julielu March 25, 2015 at 5:36 pm

My take is that the camera was rolling because Daddy was showing off for Youtube! But Spider gave him his come-uppance! If he was serious and knew what he was doing he would not have gone up a ladder which limited his range and ability. If it was staged he could have gone closer and let it drop on him – its back leg was extended and ready to do that.

I really wanted to know that Spider was not harmed in making that movie but he and helper skedaddled leaving the dropped camera to keep rolling.

I do not hesitate once i am in position for a capture he said Huntsmans’ run fast. AND they drop. I believe that Spider was set to drop but changed when the bowl came up. I thought the camera was set to vid and kept rolling after the not- so-“trusty assistant” hi- tailed it too. Her scream sounded pretty “fair dinkum” to me LOL

As far as I’m concerned huntsman’s are better off doing their good deeds outside – and i’ll take care of the other critters on the inside 😉


BobinOz March 26, 2015 at 12:53 am

You sound like a pretty experience Huntsman Spider catcher Julielu, you have clearly identified mistakes made by this man, novice mistakes, that I didn’t actually pick up on when I first watched the video.

That said, it’s still obviously staged, under the astute direction of the little girl. She did let out a pretty good scream, didn’t she? A director with acting abilities as well, isn’t that just something?

Fair dinkum indeed.

Like yourself, I do hope the spider wasn’t harmed, I’m sure it wasn’t.


julielu April 8, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Wot you’ve never heard the real (and terrified) scream of a surprise “attack” on a huntsman victim – you haven’t been to my house now have you!


BobinOz April 8, 2015 at 6:57 pm

I think I know the kind of thing you mean, I’ve seen it on a Hitchcock film :-)


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