We associate Australia primarily with exotic fauna. Movies with giant insects and spiders chasing people are a terrible thing for the rest of the world. The Australian tarantula with its large black body fits perfectly into this unpleasant image. He is considered a dangerous and very dangerous spider. Does this belief hold true? We answer!
Australian tarantula – nomenclature
At the beginning, it is worth noting that the spider in question does not belong to the tarantula family (Theraphosidae). The term Australian tarantula is therefore only colloquial.
If you want to be more specific, it’s best to use the Latin name of the species, i.e. Atrax robustus. Another Polish name will also work well – podkopnik.
Spider attracts – origin
The Australian tarantula entry area is almost exclusively confined to the Sydney area. This information is worth paying attention to because it tells a lot about the conditions under which these spiders function.
Sydney is a cool city with relatively high humidity. The subterranean is rather not found in open areas. Usually it hides in the ground. You will also meet him:
- in rock crevices;
- under the stones;
- in dense bushes;
- in the crevices of trees.
What does an Australian spider look like?
In the photos, the attraction is often presented in such a perspective that it seems really big. Meanwhile, we are dealing with a fairly medium-sized spider. Its body length rarely exceeds 35 millimeters, with males slightly smaller and more slender than females.
A distinctive feature of this spider is brown-black color. His body is shiny, smooth, and hairless.
Australian tarantula – behavior and life expectancy
As with most spiders, there is also a large gap between male and female lifespans in this species. The latter can live up to 20 years. Males typically die between 3-4 years of age.
Spiders of this species have a reputation for being very aggressive. Often you will come across stories of how they chase frightened fleeing people with great ferocity. Of course, there is a lot of exaggeration in these stories. Attraction doesn’t pursue people. However, it is definitely not a meek and gentle species.
Every day, spiders of this species build very characteristic funnels from their nets. They hide in them and wait for the victim. Their behavior in an emergency is also noteworthy.
A potential attacker gets a chance to withdraw. The spider “scares him”, floating on its hind legs and clearly displaying the venom fangs. If the attacker does not retreat at this point, an attack occurs that is lightning-fast and very effective.
Atrax is the mildest at the turn of summer and fall. The males then wander in search of females. During this period, there are also the most frequent encounters with humans, and thus – much more frequent bites.
Attraction – the most poisonous tarantula?
Atrax robustus it has the reputation of being the most poisonous tarantula in the world. Is it close to the truth? No, but its venom can still be dangerous.
Is atracic venom dangerous to humans?
Unfortunately yes. Australian tarantula venom contains several dozen toxins that almost instantly kill its main food, i.e. insects. One of them, the neurotoxic robustoxin, is dangerous for humans and other primates.
It is worth noting that the Australian tarantula almost never uses the so-called dry bites. Its aggressive nature means that as much as 95% of all bites contain venom.
Australian spider bites
Male attractants are definitely more poisonous than females. Unfortunately, they wander in search of a partner and come across people most often.
It should be noted that in the last 100 years there have been only a dozen deaths caused by the bite of this spider. Importantly, the last death took place before 1980, i.e. before the invention of the serum.
This species of spider bites 40 forty people every year. It is worth noting that even before the invention of the serum, it was mainly the elderly and children who died. This proves that the atrac is not likely to kill an adult healthy person.
Symptoms of the bite of an Australian tarantula
After all, the bite of this spider should never be ignored. The symptoms of the neurological system are of particular importance. Primarily:
- watery eyes;
- muscle cramps;
- pupil dilation;
- increase in blood pressure;
In extreme cases, there are pneumothorax and cessation of heartbeat.
What to do in case of a bite?
If a spider of this species bites you, hospitalization is necessary as soon as possible. Serum administration and constant monitoring of the patient’s condition will also be necessary.
Doctors carefully watch the bitten person. After the first dose of serum, wait 15 minutes and give another one. If, after another quarter of an hour, the symptoms have not completely disappeared, further doses are given – until the effect is complete.
Usually 2-4 doses are enough. In some cases, however, much more is required. Record holders took a dozen doses!
Spider attracts – can it be bred in a terrarium?
No. This spider is not commercially available, which is mainly due to the fact that exporting fauna elements from Australia is very difficult and subject to many bans.
Additionally, in our country there is an absolute ban on breeding atraches. It is included in the 1st category of the list of dangerous animals of the Ministry of the Environment.
Australian tarantula breeding
Females become sexually mature around the age of 4. Then they begin to emit a scent that attracts males. These, in turn, wander in search of a nest where a potential mate is waiting.
The male does not always die during copulation. Its long legs allow the female to be held in such a way that she cannot eat him.
If copulation was successful, the female lays about 100 eggs in her nest, which are placed in the cocoon. It looks after them and protects them from potential predators. The nymphs hatch after about 3 weeks and remain in the mother’s nest for several months. They only leave them after the second moult, when they are able to function independently.
Australian tarantula – interesting facts
- Contrary to some opinion, this species of spiders do not chase people;
- Atraction venom is much more dangerous to humans and other primates than to other mammals. A bite that can kill a child is unlikely to harm a dog or cat;
- the Australian tarantula can stay under the surface of the water for about 30 hours. All thanks to the air bubbles that are between the hairs on his body.
Australian tarantula – summary
Australian tarantula – i.e. Atrax robustus – is an aggressive and venomous spider that only grows in a very small area of southern Australia.
This spider is often described as a bloodthirsty beast. Meanwhile, bites occur mainly when a male wandering in search of a female wanders near human settlements. No case of death from a bite has been reported in over 40 years, although if it does occur, immediate hospitalization and administration of the serum is required.
Australian tarantula cannot be bred in terrariums. This species is banned from breeding. So there is no risk of stumbling upon it elsewhere in the world.
Fot. Toby Hudson via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 au