The female Victorian Funnel-web Spider characteristically has a shiny black cephalothorax (fused head and thorax) and a dark brown to black abdomen. The male is similar to the female, although the cephalothorax and legs often have a polished lustre. In form, the Victorian Funnel-web is similar to the Melbourne Trap-door Spider, but the body is generally smaller and darker and lacks the rib-like markings on the top of the abdomen.
A Victorian Funnel-web SpiderPhotographer: Alan Henderson. Source: Museum Victoria
Around Melbourne, these spiders are only known from in the Dandenong Ranges area.
Female and male habits and biology are similar to the Melbourne Trap-door Spider. Females remain in or around their silk-lined burrow.
During late summer and autumn, males wander in search of females and may enter buildings.
Funnel-web spiders use ‘trip-wires’ to catch their prey. These trip-wires are strands of silk radiating from the burrow entrance. At night, the spider sits inside the entrance with its legs touching the silken strands. When it feels the vibrations of an insect tripping the wires, the spider pounces on the prey.
Although these spiders are related to the Sydney Funnel-web Spider, they have not been implicated in any fatalities or serious envenomations. They are only known to cause general symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
Brunnet, B. 1994. The Silken Web – A Natural History of Australian Spiders. Reed Books: Melbourne.
Lindsey, T. 1998. Spiders of Australia. New Holland Publishers: Sydney.
Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. and Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria: Melbourne.
Hi Bokey - we checked with our Live Exhibits team, and they've replied with:
There are two broad groups of spiders: the primitive spiders (Mygalomorphs) and the more advanced spiders (Araneomorphs). The spider you describe falls into the first group, but there are hundreds of species in this group and it may be hard to narrow it down. Based on your description of the spider, its burrow and location, it is most likely to be from one of the following families: Mouse Spiders (Actinopodidae), particularly female Missulena species; Wishbone Trapdoor Spiders (Nemesiidae); or Brush-footed Trapdoor Spiders (Barychelidae), particularly Idiommata species. Other mygalomorph families don't fit the description as well, but with the current knowledge of Australian spiders and their distribution, nothing can be ruled out conclusively. If you plug the above names into an internet search engine, hopefully you'll find a matching photo of your spider.
Unlike other spiders, funnelwebs cannot disperse far so the populations tend to be highly localised, and highly variable from year to year depending on environmental conditions. In bad years there will be a low survival rate, but in good years the populations boom because they live in such high densities.
Hi Haidar - we checked with our Live Exhibits department with your query, and they have said the following:
No-one has ever recorded the life span of a male Victorian Funnelweb, but based on similar species within the same family it is likely to be 12-18 months. Female funnelwebs can be very long lived, but males often die following the mating season at the end of summer.
Hi Vic, if you are able to take a photo of the dead spider and send it in to us in the Discovery Centre, we can have the entomologist take a look and identify it for you. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org