Wildlife in Australia

1 April 2013
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by David Manning of Animal Ark.
Top of the list, I imagine, in terms of the fear factor for new migrants, would be spiders. But DON'T PANIC, the majority of spiders you come across in Australian homes and gardens are small and harmless, just like the familiar British ones. You do occasionally see little jumping spiders only a few millimetres across hopping around, and at night largish Orb spiders can be seen in the middle of their giant webs. By morning they are gone. The spider makes a new web every night and recycles the silk by eating it before morning.

However, in and around Sydney lives the Sydney Funnel Web and this is one of the worlds most dangerous spiders. They are aggressive and rear up if approached, also they are large at around 5-6 cm in size so hopefully easy to spot and avoid.

Much more common and found throughout Australia is the famous Red Back Spider. These little spiders, their bodies around the size of a pea, are black and with their red striped tummy or abdomen advertise the fact they are poisonous.

Fortunately they only seem to bite when picked up or directly prodded. Most of their life is spent within a rather messy web that may be built next to or under stored items like rocks and logs, things in the garage or under garden furniture.

A bite from one of these can be painful and you should visit your local hospital should this happen. But in reality on a day to day basis you just do not worry about them. You do need to be aware of them though and when gardening it is advisable to wear gloves. You get used to checking kids toys and stored furniture before using them.

A redback spider: 4-5cm across

A huntsman spider
about 9cm across but can grow to 15cm
Another spider that gives people the creeps is the Huntsman, a very large flat, fast moving spider that hunts for its food rather than sit waiting on a web. If you see one it's probably climbing on a wall or up the side of a tree.

They can bite but leave them alone and they will happily leave you alone. Do remember all spiders are keen predators and are trying to catch and eat the other bugs you are also probably not too keen on like cockroaches and flies.