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
Hi Mel, Funnel-web Spider holes do tend to have strands of web stretching out from them. If you have not observed these, it is unlikely that the holes were made by Funnel-webs. There are other spiders that make holes, but these also tend to leave evidence of their presence in the form of webs.
You mentioned the holes were in moist soil. Perhaps they were caused by Land Crayfish (they bring the soil up to the surface, leaving messy "towers").
Museum Victoria has a free Identification Service, but in order to identify something we need to see a photograph or the specimen itself. Details on how to get a specimen or photograph to us can be found in our Identification Guidelines.
The spider is more likely to be a Melbourne Trap-door spider as they look very similar to Funnel-web spiders. Despite it's name, it does not have a 'trap-door' over it's burrow. More information can be found on the Melbourne Trap-door spider page on our website.
We can certainly provide a identification of the spider but we do need either a specimen or at least a photograph in order to do so. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide advice on eradication – you will need to contact a pest control company for advice.
Hi Vincent. Determining what type of spider you have found will help you decide what to do with it. Some people do keep spiders as pets but, in general, spiders tend to be better left in the wild to carry out their important role as predators upon other invertebrates. If it's a Sydney Funnelweb, the Australian Reptile Park milks them for venom so that antivenene can be made to help people who get bitten. You can find out through the website where to drop off your spider for this worthy cause.
Hi Suzie, if you live in Jan Juc it is more likely that you may have trapdoor or wolf spiders than funnel-webs. It is very difficult to eradicate spiders as the young of a number of species disperse by using filaments of silk in a process known as ballooning. So even if you dig up and kill every spider you find, others will recolonise suitable habitat over time. You are also far more likely to get bitten trying to dig up and kill a spider than if you leave them alone. The best thing is to be aware of their presence and educate the kids into not diggging them up or putting their fingers in the holes.
These spiders can be quite common and while we receive hundreds of enquiries about them, the number of actual bites that we are contacted about has been extremely low over the years.
Thanks for the offer, Justin, and we're pleased you like this resource. However, there's no need for an extra encephalothorax in our collection. This one can stay in the wild!
Funnel-web spiders do not build in window frames, so your spider will not be a funnel-web. Without seeing an image I would imagine your spider is most likely a Black House Spider, Badumna insignis. See this link.
the Sydney Funnel-web has caused human fatalities but there has not been one since the introduction of an antivenom in 1981. If you have a look at the information under 'Bites' in this information sheet you can find information on the Victorian Funnel-web.
Hi Markus and Edel,
I understand your concern, but remember spiders have no interest in people. They do not feed on us and do not seek us out. If people make sure not to place themselves in jeopardy the chances of a bite are very low. Take care when gardening, explain to the kids not to dig the spiders up or put their fingers in the holes and they are unlikely to get bitten. Being on Phillip Island the spiders are more likely to be trapdoors, but even if they are a species of Victorian Funnel-web, these spiders are not known to have the venom toxicity of the Sydney Funnel-web.
Thank you for your question. There are species of Funnel-web spider in Victoria as mentioned in the information shown in this sheet. However, the spiders are not the Sydney Funnel-web and do not have the same venom issues as the Sydney species.
People are welcome to send an image of their spider to email@example.com and we can try and identify it. If the spider has been found in the Coronet Bay area it is more likely to be a species of Trap-door spider than Funnel-web spider.
Hi Rachael - We offer a free identification service here at the Discovery Centre at the Melbourne Museum! Pop your specimen into a jar in the freezer, and when you have a moment, bring it in. The details of where we are, and the guidelines of the service, are available on the link above.
We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.
Please feel free to log your identification request and attach your images here. A museum arachnologist will look at your images and let you know what kind of spider you've found.
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