Funnel Web Spider
The funnel web spiders (Atrax Robustus) are one of the most dangerous spiders in the world and cause severe envenoming in eastern and southern Australia. The venom from a funnel web spider can kill a human within 15 minutes. Unfortunately, Atrax robustus is a very aggressive spider.
If approached by anything, it will take up an attack position with its front legs raised. The fangs from a funnel web spider have been known to be able to pierce fingernails.
The funnel web spiders comprise about 40 species in two genera (Atrax and Hadronyche). The most famous species is Atrax robustus. The length of an average A. robustus is 2-4 cm. The carapace covering the front part of the body is almost airless and appears smooth and glossy. Its body is dark brown and black. The abdomen features some enlarged spinnerets, making it easy to distinguish from others. It prefers dry plains or forests.
Venom From the Funnel Web Spider
The venom from an Atrax robustus contains a chemical called atratoxin. Atratoxin attacks nerves and causes tremendous sensations of pain. An antitoxin against its poison was developed in 1981.
The carapace of an Atrax is raised and longer than it is wide. They build typical tubular burrow retreats, with a collapsed tunnel or open funnel entrance. Silk radiates from the entrance out over the ground. The spiders seize prey that walks over the entrances.
Sometimes several spiders form colonies aggregating their burrows within a small area.
Adult males leave their burrows to seek a mate, at which time they may enter houses. For this reason, they account for many bites and deaths.