Pets Hunters

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.


Photo: Nick Moir

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