You are here

Sydney funnel web spider

Atrax robustus
Atrax robustus
Did you know that… ?
  • 1927 in Sydney, Australia, six people died of Atrax robustus bites?
  • some places in Australia, Atrax spiders are considered more dangerous than poisonous snakes?
  • ...Atrax poison is extremely strong; first symptoms appear within ten minutes and death can occur within a few hours?
  • ...Atrax robustus often lives in courtyards in Sydney's suburbs?
  • ...the people most commonly bitten by this spider are, unfortunately, children?
  • ...the poison from this spider is extremely dangerous to humans and other primates, while other animals are essentially immune to it?
Sydney funnel web spider – Atrax robustus
Practical info

Basic information:
Phylum - arthropods (Arthropoda)
Class - spider (Arachnida)
Maximum length - 7 cm
Food – insects and spiders
Distribution – southeast Australia
Type of poison – neurotoxin

Distinguishing marks:
This mygalomorph has a relatively small black-brown body. Females can be up to 7 cm long, while males are somewhat smaller at 5.5 cm. Chelicerae (fangs) can be up to 5 mm long. There are four pairs of walking legs, like other spiders.

Characteristics and poison

Atrax robustus is the most feared spider in Australia. It lives under logs and rocks in forests, parks and urban gardens. Like other members of the infraorder Mygalomorphae, it builds funnel-shaped webs, made of spider silk. It is very aggressive and often attacks anything coming close to its nest. When threatened, it rears up on its hind legs and rocks its body. It attacks by jumping onto its victim and delivering a very painful bite. Besides burning pain, the bitten area swells. Lymph nodes become infected, salivation increases, along with sweating, tearing and urination, sometimes accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and ague. Further symptoms include stomach cramps and a tightening sensation across the chest.