All about the funnelweb spider – their habitat, sting, treatment, and how to avoid one the most dangerous spiders in the world.
Atrax species (A. robustus, A. formidablis)
Description: The Funnelweb spider, also known as Funnel Web spider, Australian funnel-web spider, and Sydney funnel-web spider, are medium to large, brown or black, bulky spiders. The front part of the body is glossy and hairless. They are aggressive when disturbed and have fangs that are large and powerful enough to penetrate soft shoes.
They are regarded as one of the three most dangerous spiders in the world. During an attack the spider will typically maintain a tight grip on the victim and bite repeatedly. Most deaths occur with children or victims that are already weak. The male is more aggressive and poisonous than the female and although extremely poisonous to humans, the bite is fairly harmless in other animals.
Symptoms: The bite is initially very painful with visible puncture marks and often bleeding. Symptoms occur within minutes and progress rapidly. Early symptoms include goose bumps, sweating, tingling around the mouth and tongue, twitching, watery eyes, elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Next the victim may experience nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, agitation, confusion, muscle spasms followed by dilation of the pupils, unconsciousness, and pressure in the skull. Death may occur within 15 minutes to three days.
Treatment: Treatment should be applied immediately. First, apply a pressure immobilization bandage around the bite area by wrapping the limb and apply a splint to limit movement of the affected area. The goal is to keep the venom localized until it slowly inactivates. Do not remove the bandage until a antivenin has been administered. Removing the bandage will result in rapid progression of symptoms. With antivenin treatment the chance of death is dramatically reduced.
Habitat: Funnelweb spiders are most often found in woods, jungles, and brushy areas. They make their burrows, which have a funnel like webbed opening, in areas that are moist and cool such as under rocks, rotting logs, or rough barked trees.
Distribution: Australia. (Other nonvenomous species worldwide.)