Liking the Huntsman Spider

ANZ-jul15The natural tendency when confronted by a spider that’s almost the size of your own hand is to be scared, very scared. In the eight years I’ve lived in Australia so far though, I’ve learned to like one of Australia’s biggest spiders, the Huntsman spider.

And that’s what I decided to write about for Australia and New Zealand magazine recently, this article appeared in their July edition. They called it…

Not-so-scary spiders

anz spiderAs you probably know, in Australia we have a couple of spiders that can potentially kill you. It’s a very long shot though and hasn’t happened since the 70s. It’s about as likely to happen as Rolf Harris having another number one hit.

That doesn’t stop some people being scared of spiders though and our scariest looking spider is almost certainly the huge and hairy Huntsman. This spider may be a giant, but he’s also a gentleman of the spider world and the more I learn about him, the more I like him. I’m hoping I can persuade you to like him too.

Maybe it’s easy for me to feel this way; I’ve never had any kind of fear of spiders. I always used to catch them inside a tumbler and remove them from my home for my mother when I was a kid. She would always insist that I take them to the very end of the garden before releasing them, she believed all spiders to be ‘homing-spiders’.

I have continued to remove spiders from my house inside tumblers since I moved to Australia, but the Huntsman spider makes that manoeuvre quite difficult. He can grow to up to around 16 cm span here in Australia. I don’t have a tumbler that big.

Then I started thinking, why remove them at all?

The Huntsman spider is your friend and you wouldn’t throw your friend out of your house, would you? Well, maybe, but you’d have to have an argument first and I’ve never had a row with a Huntsman spider.

There are lots of advantages of keeping the Huntsman inside, because they are, as their name implies, great hunters. They don’t build webs, so that’s the first big advantage; nobody likes to see cobwebs in their house.

They catch their prey by chasing them down. If they were human, the Huntsman spider would run 100 metres in about four seconds, easily smashing the world record. They eat the critters that you really don’t want in your house; cockroaches, flies, smaller spiders and other small unwelcome insects.

Eco-friendly and cost free pest control!

As the Huntsman spider is so gentle, timid and most importantly, harmless to humans, some people do actually just let them be. If you want to read about one such person, just Google ‘Meet Harry the Huntsman spider’ and guess what?

Yes, you’ll meet Harry the Huntsman spider.

Harry 2He patrols a house called ‘Two Winds’, ridding it of the less desirable critters for owner Rick. Well maybe not Harry these days, Huntsman spiders only live a couple of years, but Rick thinks it’s Harry’s offspring now who are continuing the tradition.

Huntsman spiders have been allowed to live in his house for a few years now and no humans have been attacked or troubled by these wonderful spiders in all that time.

So forget the rolled up newspaper, keep the bug spray on the shelf and just let the Huntsman be. He is your friend, he will work for you, it’s not his fault he looks the way he does. Remember, he is more scared of you than you are of him. And so he should be, look at the size of you compared to little old him.

Come on, he’s not so scary is he?


For more about Huntsman spiders and to meet Harry the Huntsman spider without needing to go to Google, please check out:

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Virginia G September 3, 2015, 12:20 pm |

    I would be happy to have these guys in my house. Of course, I would be happier if I could guarantee they wouldn’t fall on me while I’m sleeping or when I’m carrying a plate full of food.

    • BobinOz September 3, 2015, 7:12 pm |

      If you were sleeping and it happened, you’d never know 🙂

  • Ronny August 30, 2015, 8:03 am |

    Hi bob,
    Should they be gentlemen, non toxic, useful or whatsoever, they are big critters. I saw a tv show where the huntsman were hidden behind the car fuel door or on top of the car visor, and should you be a spiderlover, seeing this big one running away from the fuel cap or falling on your trousers when you just flip the visor, does scare.
    Besides, i can recall a post in your blog where you were checking inside your shoes before suiting them… 😉

    • BobinOz August 30, 2015, 6:44 pm |

      Yes, in the early months of my arrival, about 5 to be precise, I’d check my shoes before putting them on, I’d heard it was the thing to do. I’ve no not done it since though because I never found anything.

      If a Huntsman was in your shoe though, you’d never get your foot in, as you say, they are big critters. But I have to agree that it’s really not pleasant when they drop on your lap in the car.

  • Ongedierte August 28, 2015, 6:55 pm |

    As an Entomologist I would like to mention here that, Huntsman Spiders are non-aggressive, non-toxic and feed on local pests like cockroaches, flies etc. There are around a hundred different species of huntsman spiders in Australia. The two back pairs of legs are shorter than the ones at the front and the legs fan out sideways enabling them to walk forwards and sideways often giving them a crab-like appearance.

    • BobinOz August 29, 2015, 6:49 pm |

      Brilliant! Confirmation from an expert.

      They really are gentlemen aren’t they? No need to be scared of these at all, so come on peeps, keep the spray in the cupboard, no need for the rolled up newspaper, let these things live and take care of your uglier critters for you.

      Thanks Ongadierte, Bob

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