MOUSE SPIDER

There are 11 known species of mouse spider in Australia and it is closely related to the trapdoor and the Sydney funnel web spider. The Mouse spider can be distinguished between these other 2 spiders by their pronounced compact, squat and huge fang sheaths at the front of the head area.

Mouse spiders should be considered dangerous and treated with caution as they can be aggressive and will bite if provoked.

ALTERNATIVE NAMES

  • Missulena

APPEARANCE

  • Dark brown or black in colour
  • medium to large spiders located at the rear of the abdomen
  • Their size varies between 10-35mm with the male being smaller than the female
  • High, bulbous heads and jaws
  • The carapace is smooth and shiny
  • The eyes are spread across the front of the carapace
  • The spinnerets are short, the last segment domed and button-like
  • Male spiders have long slender pedipalps
  • Male spiders have no mating spurs on the legs
  • Males of some species have distinctive colour markings but others are black overall

LIFECYLE

  • Male mouse spiders search for a female at about four years of age.
  • Mating takes place in the female’s burrow
  • After mating the male dies
  • The female lays 60 or more eggs within an egg sac
  • The egg sac is placed in a brood chamber off the main shaft of her burrow
  • The spiderlings hatch from the egg sac over summer
  • The spiderlings remain with the mother until autumn
  • The spiderlings leave the nest during autumn

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HABITAT

  • Can be found in both coastal and drier habitats throughout Australia
  • Live in burrows in soil covered with a hinged top
  • Large, silk-lined burrows can vary from 20 cm to 55 cm deep
  • They create two surface trapdoors, at right angles to each other
  • Difficult to see as the silk and soil trapdoors merge well with the soil
  • Heavy rain often forces them out of their burrows

BITES

  • Male and female Mouse spiders have very large fangs
  • Aggressive spiders and will bite
  • Some mouse spiders have very toxic venom
  • No human deaths have been reported
  • If bitten, it should be considered life-threatening
  • Seek medical assistance urgently

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