Australian wildlife – Huntsman spider

When I had my little place in outback South Australia, I used to be visited by all sorts of wildlife; but in that area, it was mostly either scaley or crawlie type fauna; including many huntsman spiders.

The huntsman spider (aka Australian Tarantula) in the picture below took a liking to my notebook. In fact, it took some coaxing him to get him to relinquish the computer without having to kill him or damaging the notebook. He became quite agitated with the confrontation and his fangs were large enough that I could see the drops of venom on them.

The huntsman spider is quite common throughout Australia and there are several varieties. They are a hunting type spider as the name suggests and don’t spin a web. They prey on insects and even small birds or mice if they can get them. The huntsman also has leg joints that bend forwards; allowing them to move in a sideways motion.

The bite of a huntsman spider isn’t fatal to humans; but it is painful and can cause localized swelling. You’re most likely to see the huntsman at night as they are nocturnal predators, which can add to the fright factor when they appear unexpectedly.

In a natural environment, you’re most likely to find them under loose bark of live trees or under rocks and logs.

As far as size goes, the one in the photo was fairly large, but they can attain a span of 6 inches (15 cm) across the legs. The huntsman will rear up, much like a tarantula, if it feels threatened, adding to their somewhat fearsome looks.

I’m not sure on how territorial they are, but the huntsman pictured above I managed to get outside, a fair distance from my shed and within an hour he was back again; crankier than ever!

And we’ll leave the story at that. I’m a pretty patient guy when it comes to native fauna, but I wasn’t really keen on him winding up in bed with me looking to exact his revenge. Huntsman spiders also have a habit of clinging when startled, increasing the risk of being bitten.

Seriously though, they usually aren’t aggressive and will try to get away from you instead of duking it out. Another amazing Australian creature!