Sydney funnel web spider is mostly found near Sydney (from
Newastle to Nowra and as far west as Lithgow) but it has
been seen as far north as Brisbane. Related species are
found along the eastern coast of New South Wales.
is a large (6-7 cm), black, aggressive, ugly looking spider
with massive fangs. These are large and powerful enough
to easily penetrate a fingernail. When disturbed it tends
to rear up on its hind legs, a defensive posture that exposes
the fangs. They don't jump. During a bite the spider firmly
grips its victim and bites repeatedly; in most cases the
experience is horrific. The venom is highly toxic. Before
an effective antivenom was developed, significant bites
usually resulted in severe symptoms and death was not uncommon.
venom of the slightly smaller male spider is five times
as toxic as the female. This is unfortunate, as male funnel
webs tend to roam about, particularly after heavy rain in
summer, and often wind up indoors.
some strange reason, human beings (and other primates and
monkeys) are particularly sensitive to the venom, whereas
toads, cats and rabbits are almost unaffected!
bite is usually immediately painful, and if enough venom
is injected into the victim, symptoms commence usually within
a few minutes. These symptoms include:
* muscle twitching
* increased production of saliva
* watering eyes
* increased heart rate
* increased blood pressure
* airway obstruction
about 2 hours the muscle twitching and most symptoms start
to subside, and are replaced with insidious but profound
hypotension, primarily due to severe cardiac failure.
pressure immobilisation technique MUST be commenced as soon
as possible. Any delay risks the rapid onset of symptoms
affecting the entire body. There have been no reports of
deaths when effective first aid had been instituted.
attention should be saught immediately so that the anti-venom
can be administered as soon as possible. Bandages MUST NOT
be removed prematurely.