CPR First Aid

Top Venomous Australian Spiders to Look Out For

Australia has a wide number of spiders species, with a handful of them being venomous and dangerous. Learn more about the top venomous Australian spiders.

For many people, the mere mention of spiders is enough to get their hairs raised. Many carry phobias against these creepy crawling arachnids that have large eyes. The appearance of many common spiders that are usually small 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 Australian spiders. 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 have a venomous bite

A poisonous creature refers to one whose toxins can be inhaled, ingested via eating, or absorbed through the skin. These include certain fish, frogs toads, and even quail. 

On the other hand, venomous creatures 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 and their bites may resemble a bee sting

The effect of a spider bite is largely dependent on the species. For many, the bite may cause blistering and more pain in other parts of the body. Others will trigger allergic reactions, require antihistamines, and may even result in anaphylaxis. Geoffrey K Isbister from the Spiders website provides additional information on the current approach to the management of these symptoms.

Finally, a handful of species deliver a fatal bite, with the most venomous of them killing in as little as 15 minutes. Fortunately, fatal spider bites are few and far between, but no less formidable. Over-the-counter drugs and medical treatment are also available.

Let’s now take a look at several of the most venomous spiders in Australia to look out for. 

Australian spiders: Venomous vs. poisonous distinction.

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 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.

Redback Spider

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, and the brown recluse spider common in Central Texas to Western Georgia.

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.

Wolf Spider

The Australian wolf spider (Tasmanicosa godeffroyi and Venatrix furcillata) from the family Lycosidae gets its name from their hunting habits. This is the same for the other related species such as Lycosa furcillata which is common in North America, Africa, Caribbean, Asia, Oceania, South America, Central America, and Europe.

Unlike other spiders that build webs, species of wolf spiders hunt down their prey (insects and other small arthropods) instead. This is why many people consider them as good pest control in gardens and backyards. Especially since they find it easy to camouflage with their colour by blending in with tree bark and leaf litter.

Wolf spiders are brown or grey and they have a chevron pattern on their backs. They are found throughout Australia and are one of many commonly residing in urban areas. Most of them live in and around basements, lofts, sheds, and garages.

Female wolf spiders are found to have unique parental behaviour by carrying their egg sacs and spiderlings on their backs by attaching them to their spinnerets .

The venom of the wolf spider bite can cause pain, swelling at the site of the bite, nausea, and vomiting. In rare cases, the bite gives a deep wound that may lead to a severe infection.

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.

Mouse Spider

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 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.

Funnel-Web 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 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.

Other Spiders In Australia

White Tailed Spider

This has been a controversial species in Australia because some of the cases claimed that their bites caused ulcers on the skin. However, a recent study opposes this and states that skin ulceration is not a common outcome of White-tailed Spider bite. Initial burning pain, swelling, and itchiness may be the possible effects of their bites.

White-tailed spiders are dark reddish to grey, the shapes of their bodies form a cigar, and their legs have brown bands.

Trapdoor Spider

Most species under this family have a brown to dark brown colour and can make a door for their burrows. Some are found in Eastern Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and Sydney. The diet consists mainly of insects such as crickets, moths, beetles, and grasshoppers.

Like most insect bites, local pain and swelling may be felt which an ice pack may relieve.

Huntsman Spiders

Huntsman spiders are the popular long-legged, hairy tarantulas that are found on house walls, bark, rocks, and crevices. Experts do not consider it dangerous since their bites may only cause local pain.

Treat Each Spider Bite as a Serious Instance

Many dangerous and venomous spiders in Australia can cause significant harm and even death. This is why local gov from each state and city released a warning and provided instructions on first aid management.

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.



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