Mouse Spider

mousespider1Missulena species

Family: Actinopodidae
Order: Araneae

Identification:

Mouse spiders are a kind of Trapdoor spider. Females are up to 3cm long, very stocky with short, thick legs; they are black or dark brown. Males are 1-2cm long, with longer legs and long palps which look like an extra pair of legs. Both sexes have enormous fangs and fang bases. A diagnostic structural feature is the very steep slope on the back of the head area. Male Red-headed mouse spiders (Missulena occatoria) have a red head and jaws and blue abdomen, while male Eastern (M. bradleyi) and Northern (M. pruinosa) mouse spiders have a whitish patch on the top of the abdomen.

Life history:

Mouse spiders live in burrows in the soil, sealed with a hinged lid. The burrow provides a refuge from predators, parasites, low humidity and high temperatures. The spider feeds by lunging at passing prey from the burrow entrance. A female mouse spider is long-lived and will spend her entire life in the burrow - she is rarely seen except when accidentally dug up. On the other hand, males leave their burrows at maturity (a couple of years old) to search out a mate, usually after rain. Mating takes place in the female's burrow, after which the male dies. A disturbed Mouse spider will rear up defensively in a similar way to the Funnelweb.

mousespider2Pest Status:

Although few serious bites have been recorded, there is some indication that Mouse spider venom is very toxic, so the spiders should be treated with caution.

Management:

If considered necessary, individual spiders can be killed as they are found. Mouse spiders numbers are seldom high enough to warrant any concerted control measures.

First Aid:


If serious symptoms occur after a bite, Funnelweb spider antivenene may be effective.

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