Redback Spider Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a Redback Spider?
Meet the famous venomous spider from Australia, locally known as the Australian black widow, popularly called the redback spider. These invasive spiders are slowly spreading into newer territories and are primarily found throughout Australia. It belongs to the group called Latrodectus, the group of widow spiders. The redback spider bite injects a venom that contains a neurotoxin called latrotoxin that causes a condition called latrodectism.
What class of animal does a Redback Spider belong to?
The redback spiders belong to the class Arachnida. They belong to the order Araneae, family Theridiidae, and genus Latrodectus. The characteristic unique to these redback spiders is the thin red stripe along its back.
How many Redback Spiders are there in the world?
There is no comprehensive study found on the estimation of the population of the Australian redback spider. However, with these Redback spiders being an invasive species, we can deduce that their population is in good control and flourishing. In addition, their habitat is well distributed across Australia, and colonized species are found in other parts of the world.
Where does a Redback Spider live?
The redback spider inhabits urban areas closer to human habitations. They are found in terrestrial biomes like deserts, rainforests, savannah grasslands, etc. The species have spread their range of web literally in all parts of Australia. They also inhabit New Zealand and Southeast Asia. There have been citations of these redback spiders in India, Japan, Belgium, UAE, Iran, and England.
What is a Redback Spider's habitat?
The redback spider, Latrodectus hasselti, can make its home anywhere. They build their webs in dark, dry places where there is good shelter. This could be in rocks, logs, tree hollows, outhouses, empty vessels or boxes, or in dumps. The underside of toilet seats and letterboxes are familiar places to locate this redback spider, so keep your wits about you!
Who does Redback Spider live with?
The redback spider, Latrodectus hasseltii, is generally a solitary and nocturnal creature. They would interact with the other of their kind only during the mating period. After that, they prefer staying still on their web most of the time. The female redback spider builds webs that look very shabby, funnel-shaped, and made with strong silk. The numerous sticky catching threads allow their prey to be captured when the prey comes in contact with the web. It is interesting to observe that the males do not spin their web.
How long does a Redback Spider live?
The female redback spider has a longer life than the male redback spider. The female species lives up to two or three years, whereas the male spiders live for only six or seven months.
How do they reproduce?
A unique feature of the female mating the male in the reproductive cycle is sexual cannibalism. During the mating process, the males place their abdomen on the female's mouth. In few cases, the females consume these males and fall prey to the females in the mating process while the mating continues to happen. The female is ready for breeding with the egg sac once every one to three weeks. There can be an average of 250 eggs in each egg sac.
The females store the sperm in their spermathecae, a unique organ. They utilize this sperm to fertilize multiple batches of eggs for a period of up to two years. The females can lay anywhere between 40-500 eggs. The young spiderlings hatch in eight to eleven days. These redbacks can breed throughout the year, but the summer months are their most common time for breeding. The females mature 120 days after birth, while the males mature in 90 days.
What is their conservation status?
As per the IUCN Red List classification, the redback spider, Latrodectus hasseltii, has been categorized as a Not Evaluated species. This means that the IUCN has not assessed the given species.
Redback Spider Fun Facts
What do Redback Spiders look like?
The body of the females is round with long and slender legs. Their body is deep black with elongated red stripes on their upper abdomen. The abdomen has an hourglass-like marking on the underside. The redback spiderlings are grey with dark spots, which get darker with every molt.
The red stripe on the female redback spiders starts as red spots and progresses into large stripes after several molts. Juvenile females also exhibit white marks on their abdomen. The male redback spider is in a shade of light brown with white markings on the upper side of the abdomen with a paler hourglass-shaped part below.
How cute are they?
These Australian spiders can send chills down your spine with their dark colors and dark nature. Yes, they are an unwelcome guest in any household due to their evil nature. We would not call these animals cute.
How do they communicate?
The communication channels for redback spiders are visual, tactile, and chemical. Their web helps them detect vibrations when prey falls into it, and they proceed to consume it. The female's web is deposited with pheromones to woo the males during the mating process.
How big is a Redback Spider?
The female redbacks are larger than the males. They measure as much as 0.4 in ( 10 mm). They are almost ten times smaller than the giant huntsman spider that can measure 12 inches (30 cm) in size.
How fast can a Redback Spider run?
Being sedentary for most of their lives, the redback spider cannot move as quickly as other spiders. Their swiftness is only observed when they become prey to another animal.
How much does a Redback Spider weigh?
The redback spider is very tiny and can weigh just 0.035 oz (1 g). However, they are similar in size compared to the cellar spider, which weighs almost the same as the Redback spider.
What are the male and female names of the species?
There are no sex-specific names for the redback spider.
What would you call a baby Redback Spider?
The baby redback spiders are called spiderlings.
What do they eat?
Redbacks prey on insects, lizards, or even snakes. There has also been evidence of these spiders eating mice trapped in their web. They savor on woodlouse too. Spiderling's diet includes fruit flies, muscoid flies, mealworm larvae, and Cockroach nymphs.
Are they poisonous?
The redback is considered more poisonous or dangerous as bites from the redback spider are most common. They are even deadlier than the funnel-web spider that can cause a fatality in 15 minutes. Redback spider bites inject a neurotoxic venom causing a syndrome of Latrodectism. Generally, the victims develop severe symptoms within an hour with pain, swelling leading to nausea, vomiting, hypertension, or even tremors. In some instances, it can lead to seizures, coma, or respiratory failure.
Would they make a good pet?
The redback spider is not an excellent option for a pet due to its dangerous venom. It is to be noted that housepets are very vulnerable to redbacks. Guinea pigs and cats are more affected than dogs. However, smaller dogs are still vulnerable.
Did you know...
The variant of the black widow spiders found in Japan hibernates during winter. This behavior is not found in these spiders elsewhere in the world.
These redbacks can survive without food for almost 100 days and, in some cases, up to 300 days too.
These black widow spiders can survive freezing weather with temperatures recorded at -40 degrees F (-40 C).
What happens if you get bitten by a redback spider?
The female redback is more dangerous than the male. Their venom attacks the nervous system directly. It starts with pain and swelling in the local site. Then, it progresses into more severe symptoms like nausea, vomiting, lethargy, or even respiratory system failure, causing difficulty in breathing. The symptoms may be visible for hours or even days in some people with sensitive immune systems.
In records, there were 13 deaths attributed to redbacks until 1956. After that, although there are several cases of people being bitten, none have been fatal, and the credit goes to the antivenom developed in the second half of the 20th Century.
How quickly can a redback spider kill you?
Though redbacks inject only a minimal amount of venom, the potency of the venom is such that it can cause anaphylaxis. In history, there has been a record where a woman died within five minutes after being bitten.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including mole cricket facts and yellow jacket wasp facts.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable redback spider coloring pages.