Sydney funnel-web spider: Description, Behavior, Distribution and Habitat

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The Sydney funnel-web spider is a species of incredibly venomous mygalomorph spider native to Australia, normally found within a 62 miles (100km) radius of Sydney. It is a part of a group of spiders known as Australian funnel-web spiders. Its bite is dangerous enough to cause severe illness or death in humans if left untreated.


The Sydney funnel-web is medium to large, with the length of the body ranging from 0.4 to 2 inches (1 to 5 cm). Both sexes are darkly colored and glossy, ranging from blue-black to black to dark-plum to brown colored. The carapace coating the cephalothorax is almost hairless and appears shiny and smooth. Another characteristic is finger-like spinnerets at the tip of their abdomen. The shorter-lived male is smaller than the female but longer-legged. The medium leg length for the spider, in general, is five to eight centimeters.

Distribution and habitat

Distribution is focused on Sydney, stretching north to the south and Central Coast to the Illawarra district and west to the Blue Mountains in the NSW (New South Wales). The spider can be seen in moist microhabitats, including under foliage and logs. The funnel-shaped, sealed burrow is a shelter for the spider, as well as somewhere it can hide while innocent insects land in the sheet-like web that extrudes from it.


They typically evolved silk-lined tubular burrow escapes with collapsed “tunnels” or open “funnel” entrances from which irregular triplines sprinkle over the ground. In some exceptions, which require trip-lines but may have trapdoors, the silk entrance tube may be divided into two openings, in a Y or T form. The spiders burrow in safe habitats where they can find a moist and humid climate, for example, under logs, rocks, or borer holes in rough-barked trees. The long-lived female funnel-web spend most of the time in their silk-lined tubular burrow retreats. When possible prey, which includes lizards, insects, or frogs, walks across the triplines, they rush out, suppressing their prey by injecting their potent venom.

Males, identified by the revised terminal segment of the palp, tend to roam during the warmer months of the year, looking for responsive females to mate with. This makes confrontations with male specimens more likely as they wander into houses or backyards or fall into swimming pools. The spiders can withstand such immersion for up to twenty-four hours, catching air bubbles on hairs around their abdomen. Sydney funnel-web spiders are largely active at night, as typical daytime conditions would completely dehydrate them.

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