Planning your trip to Australia but more than a little freaked out by all the stories of deadly Australian spiders who are hanging out at the airport for a tasty tourist to sink their teeth into? Rest assured, our spiders are neither super aggressive nor have they caused a fatality in 40 years.
Since 1979, the last known fatality from a spider bite in Australia, antivenom has been introduced for Australia’s two deadly spiders. These two which you should watch out for are the Red Back Spider and the Funnel Web spider.
Red Back Spider
These guys are located Australia wide and characterized by their black (sometimes brown) bodies and signature red dot/stripe on their back. They are small, roughly 1-4cm and super common, in fact I’m pretty sure there is one in the door frame of our office right now. Only the female species are capable of causing harm so make sure you do the washing up and put the toilet seat down:)
Funnel Web Spider
Funnel webs are only located in Southeast Australia and only the Sydney Funnel Web is a killer. These spiders are a little harder to spot and could be mixed up with many other varieties of spiders. They are black, perhaps slightly bigger than a red black (1-5cm) and ugly as sin. Like the Red Backs, only the females are dangerous.
How to be spider aware
Here are a few steps that are second nature to any Aussie when enjoying the great outdoors:
- Spiders like dark, enclosed spaces. If your shoes (or for that matter any clothing) has been left outside overnight or for an extended period of time, you will want to follow these steps. Tap them by their heel on the ground to dislodge any creepy crawlys, followed by pressing down on the top of the shoe. Repeat the tapping on ground for extra peace of mind.
- Sheds, pot plants, outside toilets, outside furniture, logs (with loose bark), firewood are where you will most likely encounter a spider. Remember our spiders are not aggressive unless they are disturbed, so don’t be sticking your finger or your toe into these spaces. If you are sitting on an outside chair or lounge just have a quick look under the seat and cushions before you relax.
- If you are camping, make sure you keep your tent zipped up.
- If walking in wooded areas, wear enclosed shoes.
If for some unfortunate reason you are bitten and you think it was from one of the above two spiders you will want to get to a hospital or a nursing station(if you are in a remote place) pretty quick so that they can monitor you and administer antivenom if needed. Applying an ice pack or cold compression can lessen the pain for a red back bite, however if you are bitten by a funnel web you will need to firmly bandage the entire effected limb.