Frequently Asked Questions
Have you got a question about Australian spiders you want answered? If you can't find the answer here, or in Victorian Spiders, contact Museum Victoria's Discovery Centre.
When was the last recorded death from a Red-back spider bite?
1955. Since the development of the anti-venene for Red-back spiders (Latrodectus hasselti) in 1956, there have been no confirmed deaths from Red-back bites.
If you are bitten by a Red-back spider, serious illness does not develop for at least 3 hours after the bite, giving you enough time to get to a doctor or hospital. Red-back spider bites cause intense local pain and localised sweating which may be followed by other symptoms including muscular weakness and spasm, loss of coordination, nausea and dizziness.
Are Daddy Long-Legs the most poisonous spiders in the world?
No. The bite of a Daddy Long-legs (Pholcus phalangioides) is relatively harmless. It may produce an itchy, red lump if anything. But other spiders need to be careful: Daddy Long-Legs eat them!
Most spiders are not dangerous to humans because either their fangs are too small to pierce human skin or their venom does not affect us!
Is the deadly Sydney Funnel-web spider found in Victoria?
No. Sydney Funnel-web spiders (Atrax robustus) do not occur in Victoria. The only Funnel-web spider found near Melbourne (Hadronyche modesta) lives on the outskirts, in the Dandenong Ranges. It is not aggressive or dangerous, however you may get a headache and feel sick if bitten.
Which spiders do Victorians mistake for a Sydney Funnel-web?
Victorian Funnel web, Trap-door spiders and Mouse spiders.
The Melbourne Trap-door spider (Stanwellia sp., right) looks similar to the Sydney funnel-web. It is found throughout the Melbourne metropolitan area.
The Melbourne Trap-door spider is quite aggressive, but rarely bites. If you are unlucky enough to be bitten, it can be painful but not dangerous.
Mouse spiders (Missulena spp.) are found on the outskirts of Melbourne, on the Mornington Peninsula and in the drier western areas of Victoria. They can also be aggressive but rarely bite. The bite is not known to be dangerous.
Victorian Funnel-web, Mouse and Trap-door spiders all live in burrows in the ground.
Is the common Brown House spider a young Red-back in disguise?
No. The common Brown House spider (Steatoda sp.) is not a young Red-back waiting to grow a stripe. It is a relative of the Red-back and looks similar, but does not have the red stripe or the red hourglass marking under the abdomen.
Is it true that all female spiders eat the males after mating?
No, this is not true. Most female spiders do not eat their mates. Some orb weavers females quite often eat the males.
Where did the Barking spider get its name?
The Barking spider, sometimes called the whistling spider, is an Australian tarantula. When disturbed, they produce a sound by rubbing their palps over their fangs. The largest are found in Queensland, and some have been found in North West Victoria.