Primitive spiders

Primitive spiders are the oldest of the spider types and generally possess a large, heavy set body with large fangs. They are venomous to varying degrees and include some of the most toxic species in Australia, including the Sydney funnel-web spider.


Whistling spider

Bird eating spider
Photographer: Mike TrenerryAlso called the bird-eating spider or northern tarantula, the whistling spider (Selenocosmia crassipes) definitely falls into the category of 'look but don't touch'. It lives in underground burrows up to 60cm long. These burrows can often be found in sloping areas not too far from water which attracts a richer diversity of large insects. These spiders make an audible hissing sound when disturbed - hence its most appropriate common name.

The diet of this formidable predator includes large crawling insects, small reptiles and frogs. Published accounts record a baby chicken being taken from its cage. Despite its large body length of 5.5 cm, it is unable to eat solid food and uses its saliva to pre-digest the insides of its prey.

The whistling spider is from the family theraphosidae and is a type of tarantula. Australian tarantulas are old world tarantulas which are also found in Asia and Africa. Old world tarantulas are less passive than the new world tarantulas which can be found in South America, Central America and southern North America. The whistling spider is usually brown and black, without the colourful markings often seen in some larger tarantulas from Southeast Asia and South America.

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