Bird Eating Spider
The Bird Eating Spider is one of Australia's largest spiders. It is also known as the Barking Spider or Whistling Spider. These are its common names. The barking or whistling sound is a warning when the spider is disturbed and is made by rubbing their palps with their fangs. Selenoiosmia Cresipes is its Latin name, and it is closely related to the Barking Spiders of South America. This spider is truly a giant as its body reaches the length of 55mm. The male is slightly smaller and slimmer than the female but is still large and powerful. The body of the male grows up to 40mm. The colour of the spider is various shades of rusty brown.
It is considered a Tropical spider fairly widespread throughout Queensland and commonly found in Carins, Tully, Brisbane and Northern and Central parts of Australia. It is also found in New Guinea. This is the common species of the Theraphosidae family found in Australia. There are at least 4 kinds of the species found here. These spiders live under logs or in burrows which are 3cm wide and 60cm deep, which they line with silk. Sometimes a loose web is made around the entrance.
Bird Eating Spiders kill their prey by pouncing on it and injecting venom. They eat insects, lizards, frogs occasionally, small birds and other spiders (particularly the Lycosa species). All food is captured in the area near their burrows. As they have no teeth, they rely on digestive juices to dissolve their food. This is quite amazing.
The Bird Eating Spider is a type of Trapdoor Spider and they breed similarly to the Trapdoor. The female lives up to 10 years or longer. She spends most of her life in or close to the silk lined burrow. The male lives in a burrow too but leaves it when an adult for mating. Soon after mating the male usually dies. The female lays her eggs and sticks the egg sac in a special part of the burrow. The egg sac is 35mm by 30mm and oval in shape. It is thicker at the center and is very white. It's made of tough silk. The eggs are 2mm in diameter and are translucent. They are a rich yellow colour. The female lays 48 eggs. The young stay with their mother before wandering away. They are about 10mm long in the body when they leave the burrow. In late September to the end of October mating takes place and females are usually found with egg sacs in November to December.
The bite from one of these spiders is potentially dangerous for they have fangs that grow up to 10mm in length with a diameter of 2.5mm at the base. These are great weapons. When provoked, they rear up and strike downwards. The penetration of such large fangs without venom (which is known to be very toxic) is dangerous in itself. These are powerful spiders.
The largest spider of this family has a body 60mm long and a leg span of 160mm and is almost the size of a man's hand. Bird Eating Spiders are covered with velvety hairs and have small eyes in a clump on the front of their head. Their legs are covered in long hairs. They have claw tufts which enable them to run up smooth surfaces.