Victorian Funnel-web Spider Hadronyche modesta

Spiders of Victoria series

Identification

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.

Photo of a Victorian Funnel-web Spider

A Victorian Funnel-web Spider
Photographer: Alan Henderson. Source: Museum Victoria

Habitat and biology

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.

Bites

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.

Further Reading

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.

Comments (159)

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Bradley O'Connor 28 May, 2015 07:36
I was sorting through cardboard yesterday for recycling and found one inbetween. I ran upstairs to get my camera, so I have a really good photo of it. I'm living in Belgrave.
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Bokey 18 May, 2015 12:26
I found a spider on my block near Kingaroy Q.It was black and about 2 inches in diameter. It came from a hole in the ground ( hard dry earth ) which had a Volcano type entrance with a web trim around it. No trapdoor or extending web beyond the entrance. I dug down and found that the hole went off on a tangent and had a chamber at the end. The spider was initially passive and became aggressive when provoked. Is this likely to be a funnel web of any kind. It was spring and after rain and a nearby bushfire.
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Discovery Centre 25 May, 2015 11:14

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.

Jess 23 April, 2015 11:05
I live in Rye on the Mornington peninsula and in our backyard are lots of holes surrounded but spiderwebs and yesterday I saw a spider near the hole that looked a lot like the photos above of the funnel web, is it likely to be the funnel web? And if so what should I do to protect my children as the holes are all around there playground?
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glad i got it before her aKorey Cripps 15 April, 2015 21:39
i just last night had one at my backdoor, i only new it was there as the dog was going off at it! i was glad i got it before her and i live at the very end of Grovedale closest to Torquay! the council is doing a lot of ground work next to me for a new ring road, thats why i think it came here! really suprised me, now wondering what to do with it, i have it in an enclosure next to my scorpions as i couldnt kill it or release it around here! its a large male that was out doing what he should under his sercomstances i guess! we have plenty of wolf and trap doors around here and this is shaw not either of them or a house spider! at first glance i thought it was the biggest white tail i had ever seen as it was looking straight up at me a little scared until i looked closer and sent the dog inside. what should i do with this little monster? do i send pics to someone for comfirmation, ive seen them in Sydney as a bricky so im almost sure it us a FW..., i was hopeing a true trap door but am thinking otherwise with the research ive done today.....? can i get a response asap as i dont want him to go to waist... such a powerful beuty
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Discovery Centre 20 April, 2015 11:53
Hi Korey, there are species of funnel-web spider in Victoria but we are thinking from your location that a trapdoor is more likely. The males wander in autumn looking for a female. You are welcome to send images to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and we'll have a look. If you can get top and side views that would be helpful, (obviously don't put yourself at any risk of being bitten). The species of trapdoor and funnel-web in Victoria can give a painful bite but are not thought to be highly dangerous.   
sue 30 March, 2015 20:12
Hi, I have just found two hideous spiders that look like funnel web spiders in Camberwell Victoria. They live in a thick white web in my garage and don't seem to venture far from the web. They look positively evil and I ant to get rid of them
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Brendan 12 February, 2015 21:44
Hi, I live in portland vic, I have caught 3 funnel web spiders. 2 of them are Victorian funnel webs but the last 1 I'm not sure about as it has a red colour around where its fangs sit. Could it be a Sydney funnel web?.
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Discovery Centre 13 February, 2015 11:28
Hi Brendan, from your description it sounds you have seen a species of what are commonly called mouse spiders rather than a funnel-web. There are a number of different species of mouse spiders and the males go searching for females in spring and summer. Do an internet search for Red-headed Mouse Spider to see if it matches what you have seen. 
Sharon Shilliday 21 January, 2015 23:52
Hi ! We have a spider living in a 'burrow' just outside the door. We only see it at night when it has its black legs protruding outside. Occasionally we will see it pounce on something before quickly disappearing into the hole again. There are fine threads leading from the hole. I did manage to get a photo of the spider as I'm concerned it is a vic funnel web. Is it possible for me to send this to you for you to give me your opinion? Thanks, Sharon
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Discovery Centre 22 January, 2015 13:30
Hi Sharon - you are welcome to send us the image via our Ask The Experts page; our staff will see what can be made of the photo and send you an email with their identification.
Sonia 21 January, 2015 00:20
Just found one waiting patiently for its prey.... We're in Caroline Springs.
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claire 10 December, 2014 12:44
I have found two tunnels in my backyard in Cranbourne Vic. Although i haven't seen the spider,One tunnel is covered with a web. I have 2 children who play on a swing set near the tunnels is it dangerous to leave them there or should i try and kill the spider? Please reply as im a bit concerned.Thanks Claire
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Discovery Centre 11 December, 2014 13:18
Hi Claire, from your locality it is more likely to be a species of trapdoor than funnel-web, (not all the trapdoors have a lid on the burrow). These spiders are not considered highly dangerous and have no interest in trying to bite anyone. If they are dug up or feel threatened then they are likely to defend themselves. It is also very hard to 'spiderproof' a property, so you can kill these ones but if the spiders are in your area they are likely to recolonise over time. The best thing is to be aware of them and explain to the kids not to put their fingers or sticks down the holes.
Belinda 1 November, 2014 21:13
hi there. I frequently have quite large (3-4 cm) black spiders come in under my door.. Esp when it's raining and/or there's a sudden drop in temperature. I'm concerned they are funnel webs but after checking spider charts online I'm not sure if they're funnel webs or mouse spiders (they definitely have noticeable spinoretts). I've only ever found them on the floor previously but tonight I found one on the wall (about two feet off floor - not far from a crack in the brickwork). I'm freaking out cos it was right near a coat rack... I don't want any hitchhikers in my coats!!!! I live on the far south coast of nsw - not far from vic border. Thanks!
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Discovery Centre 2 November, 2014 11:40
Hi Belinda, if you can safely get some good quality images of one of the spiders please feel free to email them to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au It is really helpful if we can see the spider from side on as well as from above but do not put yourself at any risk of being bitten.
Stuart Healy 25 October, 2014 11:46
Had one in Berwick, VIC! I am from the funnel-Web belt in Sydney - lots of sandstone and am use to the pesky creatures.
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Susan 17 October, 2014 10:51
We have one in Thornbury..its burrowed in a small hole right inbetween a window frame adn a brick wall..I have no idea how to move it..any suggestions? Please help!!!
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Discovery Centre 18 October, 2014 10:55
Hi Susan - if it's in a location like a window frame in Thornbury, then that is not a funnel-web but almost certainly a Black House Spider. These are unlikely to cause any problems for humans or pets.
Dave 30 September, 2014 18:42
I found a funnel-web spider in my room yesterday and discovered the back yard is covered in their burrows. I have a photo I can post but I want to know how to deal with these guys.
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Jess 23 September, 2014 01:17
These beauties are just amazing. I have kept a large female in a terrarium for the past couple of years in my kitchen and she is the most wonderful little friend. She is kept happy, healthy and well fed, with all environmental requirements that i know of to provide :)
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Amanda Grimwade 7 September, 2014 13:48
I live in Benalla in Nth East Vic and over the years have dug up what looks like a Victorian Funnel Web many whilst gardening. But yesterday digging a hole for a fruit tree i found a huge one. Matches your description pretty well. Head to abomen over 3cm huge fangs and very aggresive. She is now in a jar alive so I could have her properly identified. Kept digging in same area and found another 8 smaller and varing in sizes. The are many holes 1-2 cm in the area also. Has any one else reported find them here in Benalla before? Great web site and resource. It has been very helpful. Can I have her identified.
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Discovery Centre 8 September, 2014 11:30
Hi Amanda, please feel free to safely get some images of the spider and email them to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and let us know they are for enquiry number 35876. Try to get some shots of the spider in profile not just from above as the profile shots can help with identification. Don't put yourself at risk of a bite, take the shots through the glass if you have to.   
Deb Weiss 6 September, 2014 14:03
We found three under the cement path at the rear of our house in Mont Albert
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Discovery Centre 6 September, 2014 16:52
Hi Deb, based on your location these spiders are more likely to be trapdoor spiders which can look quite similar. You are welcome to take some images if you want and send them to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au
Gus 23 August, 2014 16:19
Hi, My place is in East Keilor (Melbourne's North West). Typical suburban block, I have around 100 large burrow holes (1-1.5cm diameter) and probably 1000 small holes surrounding them, across my entire block. Don't try poison them yourself, I tried that, they will simply move to another area on your block and burrow there. Pay for a proper exterminator to do it. They inject poison into every hole (we are using one safe around pets and veggie garden). Why all the fuss? They come out in the evening and roam around the back door. I have been bitten by various spiders, don't fancy that happening again.
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Discovery Centre 30 August, 2014 11:58
Hi Gus, based on where you live the holes are more likely to belong to trapdoor or wolf spiders rather than funel-webs. Being bitten by a spider is certainly not fun but be aware that chemical pest control is likely to be a short term remedy. Even if you manage to kill every spider on your property they are likely to recolonise over time. If you know you have them take precautions such as shaking out any shoes left outside, don't walk in the yard in the dark with bare feet and if they are coming inside from the garden, those draught excluders may stop them if you have an obvious gap under the door. Best of luck.   
Gary Luscombe 12 May, 2014 13:09
I find 2 or 3 of these spiders in my swimming pool each day dont know were they are coming from How can I get rid of them is it to risky to swim in pool with these spiders
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Juzzy 7 May, 2014 16:21
There seems to be a larger then normal population of these around Kalorama lately. Normally they stick to the woodland areas of my property but their burrows are popping up everywhere, even in high traffic areas in the yard. At first I thought they were our yabbies (we have a huge population of land crayfish) but after moving some soil for a drainage ditch I unearthed 8 in a 3 meter x 1 meter area. What was odd was some of them where pale and wrinkly, like they had been in the wet ground too long and got pruny (do they shed?) These wrinkly ones were very lethargic. This got me thinking could these wrinkly ones be a different species? They looked just like the other funnel webs except for the lighter/greyer colour and their wrinkly abdomen.
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Discovery Centre 11 May, 2014 11:23
Hi Juzzy, Victorian Funnelweb Spiders (Hadronyche modesta) are the only funnelweb species that exist in the Dandenongs. Like all spiders, they shed their skins as they grow (moult). After spiders moult they are very pale, lethargic and soft, so this may be what you're finding in your yard. If the spiders are of a similar age, they will probably be moulting at around the same time as each other.

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.

Fabian 5 May, 2014 07:57
Buenas tardes! Me llamo Fabian. Queria comentarles que encontre en el jardin de mi casa una araña de 10 patas. De unos 30 mm de diametro. Constextura robusta, color marron orcuro brillante. Es muy agresiva. Puedo enviarles fotografias para que me ayuden a identificarla?
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Discovery Centre 5 May, 2014 10:54
Hi Fabian! You're welcome to send spider identification requests and photos to us through our Ask the Experts service.
ashleigh 13 April, 2014 01:11
Found one yesterday on my front porch in Collingwood, vic. Had to spray it to appease the terrified housemates/visitors. A big funnel shaped web with legs poking out caught my attention. Looked just like the picture!
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Narelle 11 April, 2014 11:18
This is a great resource for getting a good idea about the spiders that are around. Today I found an ugly looking black one. I have to say I am petrified of spiders, however I find it very sad to read all the posts about spraying them. Concerned parents might like to think of the implications that pesticides might have on their children as well as bite risk. I hate to think of the damage being caused along food chains, all because of our determination to eradicate.
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Ged 25 February, 2014 10:06
I reside in Austinmer NSW, about an hour south of Sydney, right up in the escarpment opposite bush land. Today i was moving garden waste from a pile in to a skip, and came across what looked suspiciously like a Sydney Funnel Web. We have been told that they have been seen in our garden before, but we have not seen one in the 4 years we have been here. I thought i had spotted it between the brick work of the house outside, right near the garden waste pile, but before i could get a proper decent look, he shot back in to the crevasse. Any idea what it may have been? It was definitely black, with more of a rounded shape... no longer then 3cm length for body and 4-5cm leg span (length)
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Discovery Centre 25 February, 2014 11:42
Hi Ged, we'd love to help but we'd need to see some good quality images to try and provide you with an identification. If you can safely get some feel free to send them to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au In the meantime have you had a look at images of the Sydney Funnel-web online to see if it matches what you saw? For example the Australian Museum has some good information.
Simon 7 February, 2014 09:04
I have recently moved to Mt Dandenong and discovered several spider burrows in the garden with an opening about 25mm. I have not seen any spiders in or out of the burrows so I don't know what species has created them. I am a little concerned about our dogs and cat, should I be? Should I take any precautionary measures? I am not one to unnecessarily kill creatures living in their own habitat.
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Melissa 16 January, 2014 21:57
Hi...I live in Albury which is on the NSW/VIC border...I have several(30+) funnels with a silken web surrounding the top of the funnel in my backyard...they appear to be in more shaded areas with the opening of the funnel facing away from the sun...I haven't seen a spider coming out of the funnel so not sure what it looks like...would the species be more likely the Victorian Funnel Web or the Sydney one? Can you move them on somehow? Or at least prevent them from taking over the backyard? There appears to be new holes appearing all the time...Thank you
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Lindsay 14 January, 2014 18:52
Wife found one today in Doreen (on a curtain, indoors)
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Kate 2 January, 2014 22:15
We have recently purchased a property in Reservoir as an investment. While fixing up the backyard we found two, very close together under a butterfly grass, and another at night. Can they hurt children? If so how can we evict them?
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Discovery Centre 3 January, 2014 11:22
Hi Kate, given where you have seen them they are unlikely to be Victorian Funnel-webs, it's more likely that they are a species of trapdoor spider which can look similar. Neither the funnel-web nor the trapdoors in Melbourne are considered highly venomous like the Sydney Funnel-web. These spiders have no interest in people, so as long as people know they are there and make sure not to grab them or stand on the there shouldn't be too many problems. You can send images of the spiders to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au if you would like us to take a look at them.  
Jade Kercheval 30 December, 2013 16:36
Hi, I have found one of these spiders today in Pakenham, have taken a photo and matched it to this spider exactly. It is summer time so I think possibly it was a male in search of a female, it was sitting on the grass in the sun.
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Discovery Centre 31 December, 2013 10:31
Hi Jade, if you want us to have a look at your photo please feel free to send it to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au
Chris 6 November, 2013 22:53
Got the fright of my life yesterday when I unearthed what I believe to have been a funnel web on my back deck - Mount Waverley, Vic, lots of vegetation around the area and home. Its web was quite large with a very distinct funnel, in a shady place between roof struts (although the location is hot, color bond style roof above). Web size about 2.5-3.5cm diameter funnel opening. Anyway the spider matched the description well but I can't find it now to confirm. Was wandering given the location and description whether it could have been or probably wasn't a funnel web? I know we have white tail, black house and red back spiders all over the place too, if they're common co-inhabitats. Also mulched two trees recently and there's a lot of it still all over the back hard.
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Simon 28 October, 2013 20:00
Hello last weekend I unrolled the garden hose and jokingly said to my wife look out there's a big huntsman in the hose reel! But when I shook it out onto the ground it had a large full abdomen, a couple of small dark brown markings on its back a similar coloured upper body but!! A good set of fangs? And when I tried to move it on it became very aggressive towards the gentle stick in front of it and actually attacked it several times. We have taken photos of the spider and would be interested to know what it is. I'm sure it's not your average sleepy keen to escape Huntsman although very similar in colour with probably a shorter coat.
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Discovery Centre 29 October, 2013 12:38
Hi Simon, you are welcome to send your spider images to us at discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au 
Wassail 27 October, 2013 21:25
Just dug up a 3cm one in my garden in Montrose Vic. Big fangs! Was moving a sleeper and there it was. Have put it in a jar. If you want it then it yours, let me know.
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Discovery Centre 29 October, 2013 11:51
Hi Wassail, thanks for the offer but we do have a number of these in the collection already, so feel free to let him or her go. 
haidar 15 June, 2013 19:46
thanks for the information but there is one thing how long does the male spider live?
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Discovery Centre 18 June, 2013 13:24

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.

Damien jones 6 June, 2013 21:38
I've just found what looks to be a funnel web in Leopold Geelong but not 100% sure it looks almost exactly like the one in the foto I just can't see the back end to see if it has them little feeler like things but also it's funnel has about 4 entrances an its on a bracket that a Fluro light mounted on it witch is in my garage about 8ft off the ground
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Chris Notley 26 May, 2013 22:13
Hi, with the sun going down & out gardening with my wife (at Clifton Springs, Vic.)I upended a old 400x400 plastic pot (near a water tap to the side of our decking) & noticed a burrow cut out or nest & movement in the end of the soil then the big spider. It's big & as long as a PK chewing gum packet. He didn't move much at first but once in the bottle he then moved sharply - scary looking. It looks very similar to online images. I'm not all that happy knowing there around in our area & particularly in my back yard. The big dam thing is still alive in a vented gar. What should I do with it ? Cheers, Chris & Heatherlee.
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Alicia 6 April, 2013 16:22
Have been gardening happily beside these spiders and scorpions all day in my garden on Mt Dandenong. If I find one in the way I pick it up with some soil in the shovel and move it to another part of the garden. It seems to me that the majority of people commenting are very keen to use insect spray and destroy these amazing creatures. Pick them up and put them outside if they come into the house!
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Liam 2 March, 2013 18:30
I have noticed heaps of funnel like webs all over the outside of the house, in holes in the mortar between bricks. I've sprayed all I can and found one big hole downstairs about the size of a 50c coin (the biggest I've found so far) I checked to see if there was a spider in it by placing a dying bee on the outside and fair enough it was pounced on and instantly dragged deep into the hole, its scared the hell out of me haha, I should just kill it yeah? Before it grows too big for the hole and needs to move out? Also another thing, the old mortar and even the brick looks like it has been somewhat chipped away at, is it possible the spider has done this?
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Discovery Centre 3 March, 2013 09:25
Hi Liam, the spider making the funnel shaped webs in the brickwork is likely to be the Black House Spider, Badumna insignis. This spider is often mistaken for a funnel-web due to the shape of its web, but funnel-web spiders do not make webs in brickwork. The Black House Spider is usually quite timid and despite them being common bites are rare. They would not have caused the damage to the brickwork, but as you have noticed are more than happy to take advantage of any holes they can find. There is probably not a lot of point in spraying them, new ones will just move in to occupy the holes once the spray has worn off. 
Discovery Centre 24 January, 2013 14:40

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 discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au

 

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Vic 23 January, 2013 15:20
I just killed what i think was a funnel web spider in Pascoe Vale, VIC. It was a male as it was smaller, but inspecting this image and others I'm pretty sure that is what it was. I'd love to be proved wrong. What other spider found in my area looks like a funnel web? When I was trying to wack it with a broom it ran for me aggressively, quite like the sydney funnel web, which I grew up trying to avoid as I lived near the royal national park and our garden was infested with them. that coupled with its looks make me believe it was one.
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Lauren 14 January, 2013 11:23
I encountered one of these spiders in my backyard on the weekend. It was about 20cms underground (I was digging up the backyard). Very nasty looking spider. I live on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
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Lisa 9 January, 2013 23:48
Earlier this evening I found a funnel web crawling up the wall next to my computer. Caught it in a jar to identify. I live in Dunolly in the goldfields vic.
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Discovery Centre 10 January, 2013 16:24
Lisa - we can identify your spider for you from a good, clear image or the specimen itself. Given that you are in the Goldfields, feel free to submit an image via out online Identifications service.