From the Redback spider to the Huntsman, Australian spiders are some of the most deadly in the world. In fact, our venomous eight-legged creatures have quite the fearsome reputation across the globe.
Ultimately, you’re more likely to be killed by a bee than a spider (yes, really), but that doesn’t stop the Arachnophobes among us from screaming in sheer terror when they spot a Daddy long legs in the corner. Nevertheless, spiders are some of Australia’s most deadly species. If left untreated, their bite can prove fatal.
Here is a list of the top 10 most deadly Australian spiders.
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1. Sydney Funnel-Web Spider
The Sydney funnel-web spider is without a doubt the most venomous spider in Australia and one of the most feared in the entire world. Found across New South Wales in forested and urban areas, this spider can grow anywhere from 1.5cm to 3.5cm in legspan. While it isn’t the biggest spider in the world, don’t let size fool you. A Sydney funnel-web spider’s fangs can grow longer than a brown snake and are so powerful they can even pierce through your toe-nails.
To make matters worse, the venom that comes out of their huge fangs is highly toxic to humans and, if bitten by a male, can even kill. Their venom attacks the nervous system and organs, leading to severe pain and injury. Thankfully, scientists have produced an effective anti-venom and there have been no recorded deaths from a Sydney Funnel-web spider since 1981.
Scientific name: Atrax robustus
Higher classification: Atrax
2. Northern Tree Funnel-Web & Smaller Southern Tree Funnel-Web Spiders
The northern tree & smaller southern tree funnel-web spiders are next on thisdeadly list and, just like their Sydneysider cousins, are not to be messed with. Found in Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales, these spiders generally prey on insects and frogs but can attack humans when threatened. Half of bites result in envenoming, so you definitely don’t want to take your chances here.
Most active in the warmer months between November and March, each year 30-40 people are bitten by these spiders. Thankfully, there has been no recorded deaths since 1981.
Scientific name: Hadronyche formidabilis & H. cerberea
Higher classification: Atrax
3. Redback Spider
One of our most iconic predators, Redback Spiders are found throughout Australia. They love urban areas and seek out dry, sheltered places to hide which often brings them into close contact with humans. They are commonly found in cupboards, mailboxes, even under toilet seats (which makes a pretty good argument for leaving the toilet seat up!).
Redback spiders account for the most bites in Australia with over 2000 confirmed cases each year. However, due to an anti-venom being developed all the way back in the 1950s, no deaths have been recorded since. Of the 2000 odd reported bites each year, only about 250 people needed to receive the anti-venom.
Identified by a bright red stripe on their back (hence the name), a bite can cause sever pain lasting hours. However, due to their small fangs many of the bites prove ineffective.
Scientific name: Latrodectus hasselti
Higher classification: Widow spiders
4. Trap Door Spiders
Fourth on the list of deadliest Australian spiders is the trap door spider. This clever hunter camouflages the entrance to its burrow to trick their prey into falling inside.
Luckily, they only grow to be 3cm in length so you shouldn’t be too concerned about falling into their lairs anytime soon. Their venom also only causes minor symptoms for humans like nausea, localised pain and lethargy. They can be aggressive around their burrow though, so best to stay away.
Scientific name: Ctenizidae
Higher classification: Ctenizoidea
5. Mouse Spider
Mouse spiders may not be the most venomous on the list, but they are definitely one of the more terrifying looking spiders found in Australia. Similar to trap door spiders, Mouse spiders can often be found in burrows along riverbanks and near waterways, but also found in suburban gardens.
They are rarely aggressive, which is a good thing because their venom is nearly as potent as the Sydney Funnel-web. These spiders prefer to wander at night to avoid the heat and other predators and mainly eat insects and small frogs.
Scientific name: Missulena
Higher classification: Actinopodidae
6. White-Tailed Spider
Native to the south and east of the Australian continent, sixth on the list of deadliest spiders is the White-tailed spider. Despite a reputation for producing flesh-eating venom, scientists have disproven this, instead suggesting their venom to cause only mild pain in humans. This doesn’t mean they’re harmless though, we guarantee it would still suck to get bitten by one.
Unlike the trap door and mouse spiders, white-tailed spiders actively hunt at night, targeting insects and even other spiders. They often come in to contact with human environments while wandering around at night, so make sure you shake your boots before putting them on in the morning (we’re speaking from experience here).
Scientific name: Lampona cylindrata
Higher classification: Atrax
7. Australian Tarantulas
Ask anyone that is afraid of spiders and they’ll tell you that tarantulas are truly the thing of nightmares. In fact, we’re almost certain Harry Potter 2 had something to do with the sharp increase in Arachnophobia around the time the Chamber of Secrets was opened.
Unlike the spiders of the Forbidden Forest, Australian tarantulas are not fatal to humans. They can, however, grow up to 16cm in legspan with 1cm fangs, so while their bite can be very painful when they get a hold of you, envenoming effects are rare. Australian tarantulas are also known as whistling or barking spiders, a name given due to the sound they produce when they rub their legs together.
Scientific name: Selenocosmia, Selenotholus, Selenotypus, and Phlogiellus
Higher classification: Selenocosmiinae
8. Recluse Spider
The recluse spider has one of the more serious bites on our list of deadly spiders. It’s venom is haemotoxic, meaning it damages your blood cells and can disrupt blood clotting.
Located in southern parts of Australia, this spider grows up to 2cm in length. Although the recluse spider’s venom can cause severe health problems when bitten, they are not inclined to bite and no cases have been reported in the last 20 years.
Scientific name: Loxosceles reclusa
Higher classification: Recluse
9. Huntsman Spiders
Perhaps Australia’s most feared spider, the huntsman has risen to notoriety thanks to circulating online photos of the spider and crazy news articles showing their imposing size. This hysteria is not without course, of course, as the huntsman grows up to 15cm in legspan, with some species reportedly growing up to 25cm! Despite their formidable size, the huntsman spider is more likely to retreat when under threat and reluctant to bite.
The real danger with these spiders is the reaction of the human when it appears, with many road accidents attributed to this unexpected guest falling from the sun-visor or on the windscreen (yikes).
Scientific name: Sparassidae
Higher classification: Atrax
10. Common Garden Orb Weaver Spider
Unlike some of the other spiders on this list, the Common garden orb weaver spider does not mess around. It’s highly aggressive and accounts for the most spider bites in Australia every year. Fortunately, their bites have only minor affects and lead to localised pain.
Garden orb weaver spiders live throughout Australia and are commonly found, as the name suggests, in gardens, trees, on washing lines, and anywhere else shaded during the day.
Scientific name: Eriophora sp
Higher classification: Eriophora
What is the most dangerous spider in Australia?
The most venomous spider in Australia is the Sydney funnel-web spider. It produces highly toxic venom from it's large fangs and can cause death if untreated.
Which spiders can kill humans?
While spiders such as the Sydney funnel-web spider have high toxic venom, there has not been a reported death from a spider bite in Australia since 1981. This is thanks to highly effective anti-venoms used to treat envenoming.
What's the biggest spider in the world?
The biggest spider in the world is the South American Goliath birdeater. It can grow up to one foot (30cm) in legspan!
What are the top 5 deadliest spiders?
The top 5 deadliest spiders in Australia are the Sydney funnel-web spider, the northern tree funnel-web spider, the smaller southern tree funnel web spider, the Redback spider, and the recluse spider.
What should I do if I'm bitten by a spider?
If you suspect you have been bitten by a venomous spider, contact medical assistance as soon as possible.