Spiders and snakes may be the two most common zoological phobias, but most people wouldn't consider a battle between the two much of a contest. However, a redback in north-western Victoria has taken down a snake many times its size, giving arachnophobes one more reason to never sleep again.
Spiders have been filmed killing snakes before. However, the last time we ran such a horrific encounter, the champion was an impressively large golden orb-weaver spider—which had the advantage of the snake literally falling into its astonishingly strong web.
Redbacks are much smaller, but venomous.
Neale Postlethwaite filmed the encounter at his Gooroc farm. He was cleaning his shed and noticed the snake hanging under his car. "I came out and I thought it was actually dead, and then I saw it moving and I thought I'd better keep my distance," Mr. Postlethwaite told The Area News. "I went in for a closer look and found the spider going to work on it."
Credit: Neale Postlethwaite via Fairfax Media
The Area News quoted Billy Collett of the Australian Reptile Park as saying reports of such events are very rare. "Normally it's a bigger species of spider like an orb weaving spider, but to see a redback taking down one is quite extraordinary.” Collett suspects the redback's venom—deadly enough to kill a human—would have finished off the snake quite quickly.
Collett said the spider would never manage to eat the whole snake and was curious how much it would consume under the circumstances. Postlethwaite was not able to help much, reporting, "The next day the snake was on the ground and a trail of ants were getting into it, so I don't know how much lunch the spider had."
Collett identified the victim as probably being a Dwyer's snake, a species capable of making humans sick but unlikely to be lethal.