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Impurest's Guide to Animals #105 - Flat Huntsman Spider

Ah so many celebrations this week. First we had Burns Night, and today we have Australia Day. Last week we lounged on the coast with the surprising Surf Anemone. This week we head into the outback to meet a laid back Aussie and her family. Hope you guys enjoy.


Issue #105 – Flat Huntsman Spider


Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Arthropoda

Class – Arachnida

Order – Araneae

Family – Sparassidae

Genus – Delana

Species – canceradis

Related Species – The Flat Huntsman is one of many species of Huntsman Spiders, whose ranks include the Flic-Flac Spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi) and the Giant Huntsman Spider (Heterapoda maxima) (1)

Range – The Flat Huntsman Spider is found all across Australia, including Tasmania and was introduced to New Zealand in 1924, where the species is affectionately known as Avondale Spiders.

Family Hour: Spider Style

The Flat Huntsman Spider is one of the large species of spider, with a body length of three to five centimetres, and a leg-span that can be in excess of 20cm, with females being larger than males. The body is flat, as its name suggests, and is covered with fine brown hairs, as are the legs. Flat Hunstmen are often found under the bark of dead trees or under large stones during the day, only being active at night.

Like most spiders, the Flat Huntsmen is an obligate carnivore, actively pursuing prey such as crickets and cockroaches and overpowering them with its sheer size and venomous fangs. Despite its size, the spider is prey to a number of predators such as skinks, toads and possums, as well as birds should they be caught out in the open. In addition, the Flat Huntsman is targeted by the predatory Bulldog Ant (Myrmeica sp) which raids their nests due to the spider competing for food with them.

The reason for this targeting becomes clear upon opening a Huntsmen’s nest, often held down with strands of silk to reduce damage from the elements, and finding over a hundred spiders sharing the nest (2). Flat Huntsman Spiders are a social species, with one large mother spider producing many generations of offspring, all of who she protects in return for food brought back to the nest. While the related spiders don’t hunt together, they do share food, and all individuals defend the nest, either from ant intruders or from unrelated Flat Huntsman Spiders which are attacked and consumed.


Five Fun Flat Huntsmen Spiders

Despite their formidable appearance, the Flat Huntsman is a very placid spider, and rarely bites humans, even when held.

This timid nature made the species ideal for use in filming. The majority of the spiders in the 1990 film Aracnophobia were plaid by Flat Huntsman Spiders.

This gentle nature carries over to the spider’s mating habits, with female spiders being uninterested in cannibalising any males who mate with her.

When pushed into action, the Flat Huntsman is a deadly defensive fighter, particularly when their nests are attacked by Bulldog Ants. Despite this the ants often win, and push the spiders from their home before plugging the hole with leaves and dirt to prevent recolonization. While it seems like the ants have the upper hand, their high metabolism (in comparison with the spider) demands more food, and should the Huntsman nest remain, result in starvation of the entire colony(3).

As large as the Flat Huntsman is, it’s not the biggest member of its family. That honour goes to the Giant Huntsman Spider which has the widest leg-span (over a foot wide) of any spider (4).



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2 - Rowell, D. M.; Avilés, L. (1995). "Sociality in a bark-dwelling huntsman spider from Australia, Delena cancerides Walckenaer (Araneae: Sparassidae)" (PDF). Insectes Sociaux (Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser) 42 (3): 287–302

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Picture References

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Well that was creepy and caring all in one package, just what we needed for this Australia Day special. Next week we…er…have a wide mouthed creature making an appearance. But until then critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese