Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hairy, scary and looking for love

More than 30 species of the highly dangerous funnel web spider exist throughout Australia. The best known is the Sydney funnel web spider, Atrax robustus, which is found only within a 160 km radius of Sydney. The male is more dangerous than the female, which is unusual in the spider world. The male Sydney funnel web is also Australia's most dangerous spider, capable of causing death in as little as 15 minutes. Photo: R. Lowe, AVRU Recent heavy rains in the Sydney area are causing these creatures to emerge from their burrows in search of mates. The general manager of the Australian Reptile Park, Mary Raynor, said many of the aggressive spiders - about 30 to 40 a week - were being donated to the park by members of the public to be milked for their venom. "They're really coming alive, and looking for females in earnest before it gets too cold." Peak mating season for the fanged funnel webs is February to May, but this year the season began early, with large numbers collected before Christmas, probably because of high humidity. Australian Reptile Park staff collect venom from the fangs of a male funnel web by blowing on the spider. Source Photo: Nick Moir


manda said...

Actually, the Sydney funnel web is found throughout a much wider range then that. I live 2500kms away from Sydney, and someone found a SYDNEY funnel web in the cemetary. Very rare to find them so far North.
Also, My Gran lives in prime funnel web country, and she finds them all the time. When you live there, you must always wear shoes, and stomp around, making sure you look at where you're putting your feet.
At the Sydney Reptile Park, they have shows, where one of the rangers gets out a spider and shows it to you, puts in on the ground and lets it run around a little, then puts it on her HAND and pets it. I tell you, when I saw that for the first, I was amazed!!! I'd gladly milk them but would NEVER put one on my hand. They have to bite downwards to inject their venom, and that's why they rear up when threatened.
Also, you don't just blow on them in order to make them secrete the venom, which you then collect with a syringe, but you nudge them and poke them too.
I know this is alot of info, but I know so much about them!!
Last year a 89 year old woman was bitten twice on the foot by one and actually survived! (once given the antivenom, of course. The anti venom took 20 years to get right, and the first man to have it tested on him was so lucky, it had been made 1 month before he was bitten. He was literally a human guinea pig, as they had to give him 5 times the amount they had thought he would need in order to reduce the effects. Since the antivenom has been introduced, no one had died in Aus from a funnel web bite. The last victim was sadly a 4 year old boy on a camping trip with his family, 8 months before the antivenom was introduced.

Julie said...

I would die of terror just seeing one of these!

Belmont Public Library said...

These guys are really cool.

Charles Odell

Unknown said...

I amonly 12, but when I first saw a picture of these, wel, lets just say that they'er mt favroite spider! did you know that a funnel web spider can plunge its fangs straight through a human toenail! Its toataly wicked!