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Soon as you start thinking about Australia, you think of the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, sun, sand and sea…. Forget all that. Spiders!!!!! Deadly Australian spiders, they’re everywhere. That little bit of missing mortar in the brickwork, redback lives in there, behind the curtain pole, funnel web lives there, in your shoe….just trust me they are everywhere!
What kind of spiders am I likely to come across?
In a nutshell, all of them. In all fairness if you were to stay in the cities the odds are you wouldn’t come across too many…but seen as we’re top adventures we’re not going to do that are we!? So leaving the safety of the city and heading into the bush, if within 2 weeks you haven’t seen any spiders then I’m not being funny but go invest in a white stick….
- The famous Redback- These are pretty common, well more common than you’d like. The picture at the top of this page was taken when one day we were bored in the hostel and decide to look for spiders. Even the very bench I was sat at yielded that beauty. Also, the photo under this is one I found in a car tyre that I was using to weigh down tarpaulin on silage. Bites from these spiders can be unbelievably painful, but are rarely fatal. I even found one with a small lizard trapped in its web, not bad considering the larger females only have a body length of 10mm (sure I saw much bigger though). They even eat the male counterpart after mating….
- Funnel web spiders- Now I saw a few of these horrible, grizzly things. Chunky body and thick jet black legs, they live around humans, in mainly suburban Sydney. In the warmer months the males go out in search of a mate and can be found in garages, gardens and are also attracted to water so check that swimming pool before donning them budgie smugglers. There was a place in Richmond NSW where I used to fill up my water tank and above the tap there was a crack in the wall where you could see one of these with its front legs sticking out, if there was ever a time where one of those silly push for a dribble of water taps just wasn’t doing it, this was it.. Verge of being bitten to death for a drink of water. If one of these decides to sink its nashers into you, head for the hospital. These are killers!
- Mouse Spider- Now this one is just something else!! They live outside and make burrows with an actual trapdoor on. These vary in size from 1cm-3cm body length and again are poisonous, but don’t tend to kill us humans. Jesus Christ, fair enough the venom might not kill us but I’m not being funny if one of these crawls on me I wouldn’t say a cardiac arrest is out of the question.
- Huntsman spider- Now then, these you are definitely without a doubt going to see, they are everywhere! I’d equate these to the humble “daddy long legs”, shed lurkers. If you think face hugger from the film “Alien”, you won’t be far off the mark. They Spin webs and eat flies when young but when they mature they chase their prey and can also jump as well. I personally saw Huntsman spiders that were bigger than my hands. These spiders are poisonous but the venom is not really strong enough to do us any harm but you can see their fangs just by looking at an adult one with the naked eye so wouldn’t really like a bite.
If you go picking oranges in the Riverland and the farmer doesn’t use pesticides that kill them, take my word for it you WILL have these on you. It’s always the juiciest cluster of oranges that you can see covered in web, the farmer won’t let you leave them behind, slowly you pluck up the courage to start picking oranges one by one, all the time trying locate the hidden huntsman. You pick the whole bunch, what no huntsman!? Don’t be so naive, check the last orange that’s still in your hand, It’s likely stuck to the opposite side. Failing that You’ve missed it and its in the picking bag that’s strapped to your chest, you look down and there it is in all its glory looking up at you. Now what do you do? The only way to remove a picking bag is to lift it up towards your face, if you disturb him he’s gonna run….there’s only one direction he can go. A friend of mine called Mark was working with me one day, both just filling as many bins as possible when all of a sudden he was panicking, I could see the fear in hins face from the 5th rung of my ladder. He was stood with half of his hand in his face, what on earth is going on!? A huntsman the diameter of your standard coffee mug had just crawled into his mouth, he tried scooping it with his fingers, it moved to the other side, scooped at it again and again it moved to the other side. Only one thing for it “Bear Grylls”. Probably one of if not the funniest things I have ever seen and again something I will never forget.
So how do I not get chomped?
Well there is one main rule to follow here every time you put your shoes on give them a good banging out beforehand. Some of these critters do like to make camp in them. Oh and same with the shorts, I never found any in my shoes but I did one day pick up my shorts to put on and a 3″ huntsman dropped out and scuttled off under the bed. Let’s be serious could it really get any worse!? Don’t go sticking your fingers in random holes in the floor, trees, fences… I’m guessing your thinking well who the hell does that, well you just don’t know do ya! Consider yourself warned!
How do you sleep at night?
Good question. Well to be honest when I first arrived in Australia I was scared to sit down anywhere, or go into sheds, barns etc. The fact of the matter is after a few months you’re battle hardened, anything but the most poisonous just don’t matter. My second campervan had a little poisonous spider that lived in the air vent, came out every now and again but never bothered us. In one hostel we had this nasty looking fat black spider living behind the curtain in our dorm room, it looked like a mouse spider but we just left it. I did move my pillow to the other side of the bed though ;). At the end of the day you just realize that they don’t bother you anymore.
Is there any way to avoid them?
Soon as you step out of the cities and into the outback the only way to avoid these critters it to go about your business with your eyes closed. If you manage to do your full two years working holiday visa without having at least one huntsman crawling on you I’d be very surprised.
Just embrace them, after all, you’re now in their domain.
Spiders get rid of flies so be grateful for them.
Trust me one day you’ll know what I mean by that but for now that’s a story for another post. All in all, yes at the beginning they are a disaster but give it 3 months and you’ll treat them like they’re money spiders and all your mates back home will think you’re the outback warrior you always wanted to be.
Think you could handle them!?