The Funnel Web Spider

The funnel web spider is reason enough to be fearful of spiders. Everyone should have a reasonable amount of fear for this spider. Some argue that it is the most dangerous spider in the world as its venom is extremely potent.

The funnel web spider for me almost looks like a toy plastic spider that you would get from a toy shop! It tends to be black or brown in colour and ranges in size from 1cm to 5cm. They also look quite glossy.

Where To Find The Funnel Web Spider

Funnel webs can be found in all parts of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. There is however one species of funnel web which is called the Sydney Funnel Web spider. This spider is popular in Sydney and can be seen up to a radius of 160km from Sydney.

Funnel Webs like moist cool places to live and usually create little burrows inside decaying logs, under rocks or rough barked trees. You may find them in your gardens shrubbery and its common to find them in garden rockeries but its unlikely you’ll find them on the grass. They have shown up in Sydney garages and yards.

They do however like water. So they tend to come out after a rainstorm. They are sometimes found in swimming pools where they have likely fallen in wandering around looking for water. They can survive in swimming pools and can still give a venomous bite post dip.

Our friends were camping in Jervis Bay (3 hours drive from Sydney) They had left their 2 year old's toys outside in a basket and it had rained over night. They were just packing up and my friend still doesn't know why she did it, but she emptied the toy basket. There was a funnel web spider nestled amongst the toys! Thank goodness she saw it and not her 2 year old who surely would have thought it was a toy!

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Their Bite

The funnel web spider gives dry bites as well as venomous bites. This means that if you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by one, there is only a 10-25% chance that the spider injected venom into you. There is unfortunately no way of knowing until its too late so you should act immediately and get yourself to hospital.

What are the symptoms if you are bitten?

Firstly the area around the bite will start to really hurt. As the venom gets into your blood stream the victim usually experiences tightness round the mouth and tongue. There may be twitching and vomiting, sweating and a shortness of breath. Death is a result of excessive hypertension.

First Aid - How To Treat A Funnel Web Spider Bite

Firstly phone 000 for an ambulance. You may need anti-venom.

You need to apply the same principles as a snake bite. A pressure immobilisation bandage should be applied. The aim is to keep the limb immobilie to slow the venom from spreading to the rest of your body. But you don’t want to cut off the blood supply. The bandage should be as tight as you would bandage a swollen or twisted ankle.

The victim should be kept as immobile as possible – carry them if possible.

It’s hard to say how long you have before the venom will kill you. It can be as little as 15 minutes (in a child) or up to 3 days. So, phone the ambulance immediately! You need anti-venom.

It’s good to take a picture of the spider if, and only if, it’s possible. Local hospitals will know what species are in the area and may be able to tell just from the look of the entry wound so don’t worry if that isn’t possible.

How To Avoid Meeting A Funnel Web Spider

If you see any black glossy spider then retreat.

If you see it rearing up and showing its fangs then it is ready to bite. It’s fangs can penetrate clothes so get out of the way.

Be careful particularly at night of where you are walking and disturbing.

When gardening or clearing out the garage, be particularly vigilant. Wear tough and thick gloves to limit any penetration.

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