For many people, the mere mention of spiders is enough to get their hairs raised. Many carry phobias against these creepy crawling arachnids. The appearance of many spider species coupled with their small size means that they can come up on anyone without them noticing.
Couple this with the venomous properties of several of these spiders, and there is an understandable palpable fear against them.
If a person is even remotely fearful of spiders, most likely they have heard inklings of what lies in Australia. The land down under has over 2,000 species of spiders!
While this may sound alarming, one need only look at the facts to understand the true reality of these spiders. Despite the overwhelming number of spider species, the truth is that only a handful of them can pose risks to people. Statistics show that snakes, bees, and sharks are more life-threatening.
With that said though, it doesn’t mean that one should not err on the side of caution when coming in contact with Australian spiders. A bite from several spiders can still elicit a negative reaction, with some even being fatal.
Even if you don’t live in Australia, it is always best to know what you are up against. Let’s look at several of the most dangerous and venomous Australian spiders.
Are Spiders Poisonous? Poison vs. Venom
Before we talk about the lethal spiders from Australia, it is first important to make a distinction between poison and venom. Usually, people ask whether a certain spider is poisonous. While some are poisonous, many are actually venomous.
A creature that is poisonous refers to one whose toxins can be inhaled, ingested via eating, or absorbed through the skin. These include certain fish, frogs or toads, and even quail.
On the other hand, venomous creatures are ones that secrete their harmful toxins via a bite. Thus, while spiders are poisonous, it is highly unlikely for people to eat them to ingest the toxins that way.
It is more accurate to say that these arachnids are venomous in nature.
The effect of a spider bite is largely dependent on the species. For many, the bite will be painful and may cause more pain in other parts of the body. Others will trigger allergic reactions resulting in anaphylaxis.
Finally, a handful of species deliver a fatal bite, with the most venomous of them killing in as little as 15 minutes. Fortunately, the fatal spider bites are few and far between, but no less formidable.
Let’s now take a look at several of the most venomous spiders in Australia to look out for.
The Most Dangerous Australian Spiders
Sydney Funnel-Web Spider
Arguably the most dangerous spider in Australia is the Sydney funnel-web spider. It is also one of the most venomous spiders in the world. The male spider is particularly aggressive and its bite can be fatal to humans, especially children
The Sydney funnel-web spider is black in colour with a glossy carapace. They are also quite large, with a body length of 1 cm and a leg span of up to 5 cm. These spiders are found in eastern Australian forests, particularly around the Sydney region (which it is named).
The venom of these spiders attacks the nervous system, which causes muscle spasms and paralysis. In addition, the venom can also cause the victim’s blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels.
The good news is that there is an antivenom for the Sydney funnel-web spider. However, it must be administered as soon as possible after the bite for it to be effective. Death can occur as quickly as just 15 minutes after the bite.
The redback spider is the next Australian spider on our list. It is related to the Black Widow spider, which is found in North America.
The redback spider is easily recognizable by the bright red stripe on its abdomen. These spiders are found throughout Australia and they prefer to live in urban areas.
The venom of the redback spider attacks the nervous system, which can cause severe pain and muscle spasms. In some cases, the venom can also cause nausea, vomiting, and sweating.
There is an antivenom for the redback spider. Despite that, it is still important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after being bitten.
The wolf spider gets its name from their hunting habits. Unlike other spiders that build webs, these spiders hunt down their prey instead.
Wolf spiders are brown or grey in colour and they have a chevron pattern on their backs. They are found throughout Australia and are one of many commonly residing in urban areas.
The venom of the wolf spider can cause pain and swell at the site of the bite. In some cases, the venom can also cause nausea and vomiting.
Fortunately, the venom of the wolf spider is not usually fatal to humans. However, it is still important to seek medical attention if you are bitten by one of these spiders. This is because some people may be allergic to the venom.
Don’t let this spider’s name fool you. The mouse spider is another spider in Australia to look out for. These spiders got their name as people once thought they could burrow as deep as mice do. While they do not meet the one metre depth of mice, the 30 cm depth is highly unusual for spiders.
Mouse spiders are brown or black in colour and they have a cylindrical shape. Their appearance is also quite large and chunky.
The venom of the mouse spider can cause pain and swell at the site of the bite. Nausea and vomiting are included in the symptoms of a mouse spider bite.
In truth, the venom from this spider is right up there with the Sydney funnel-web spider. However, there haven’t been many reported serious cases with these bites. This may be because these spiders use less venom. At the same time, they sometimes dry bite, failing to release any venom in the process.
The antivenom used for the funnel web spider is as effective for this type of venom. Regardless of these first aid practices in place, it is still best to seek immediate medical care if bitten by this spider.
The funnel-web spider is another Australian spider that is related to the Sydney funnel-web spider. These spiders are found in eastern Australian forests, particularly around the Sydney region.
The funnel-web spider is black in colour with a glossy carapace. They are also quite large, with a body length of one centimetre and a leg span of up to 5 centimetres.
The venom of these spiders attacks the nervous system, which causes muscle spasms and paralysis. In some cases, the venom can also cause nausea and vomiting
Treat Each Spider Bite as a Serious Instance
There are many dangerous and venomous spiders in Australia that can cause significant harm and even death.
Even with some spider venom being fatal though, it rarely results in death if the right care is given. Antivenom has been developed for many, if not all, spider venom. Despite that, every spider bite should be treated as a serious instance.
If you or someone you know has been bitten by a spider, take them to seek medical care immediately. Additionally, keep a look out for the dangerous Australian spiders we listed above. It just might save a life one day.
As always, being prepared is the key to success. Even if you don’t live in Australia, you may find yourself there one day. At the same time, the world has no short supply of venomous spiders.
The best way to prepare for spider bites is by equipping yourself with the right first aid skills and knowledge. Take CPR First Aid’s Liverpool courses today.