They May be Huge, But Just How Deadly Are Huntsman Spiders?

The huntsman in Australia has a reputation for growing to huge sizes. F Delventhal/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Josh Davis 09 Nov 2016, 11:22

You may have seen the video of a huntsman spider falling on a man’s face, or more recently the photo of one dragging a mouse up a refrigerator. This might fill many of you with abject horror as the spiders, which can grow to have a leg span of up to 30 centimeters (12 inches), may look like they have just crawled out of Dante’s Inferno, but do the arachnids deserve their fearsome reputation?

Despite their massive size and creepy appearance, the huntsman is pretty low risk to most humans. While many may refer to them as “tarantulas”, the spiders actually belong to the family Sparassidae, and are a diverse group found from Florida to Namibia, China, and obviously Australia. While the large creatures can give a fairly painful bite, it is not considered dangerous to humans, resulting instead in localized swelling and pain, and occasionally nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations.

Generally, the critters tend to keep to themselves, doing a useful job in keeping the numbers of cockroaches, crickets, and the occasional mouse down, although reports do suggest that females guarding egg sacks are more aggressive, so maybe just leave the expectant mothers alone.

Anyway, if you’re living in Australia you’ve got a whole host of other far more dangerous spiders you should be keeping an eye out for instead.

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Meet Charlotte, the huntsman spider. 

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