TASMANIAN CAVE SPIDER

FACT FILE - 013

Family

Austrochilidae

Species

Hickmania troglodytes
(Higgins & Petterd, 1883)

Body Length

Female: 20 mm
Male: 13mm
Leg span up to 180 mm.

Habitat

In caves, near the entrance. They build large sheet webs to trap insects which fly into the caves.

Toxicity

Highly venomous.

Click images to enlarge.

cave1

Female.

cave2

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Female.

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Female cave spider with egg sac.
Photo: ©Tony Gee

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Female cave spider with egg sac.
Photo: ©Deb Hunter

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Male cave spider.
Photo: ©Deb Hunter

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Sheet web.

This spider is non-aggressive, preferring to disappear into a rock crevice if disturbed.

The following is a report by Deb Hunter, a very experienced caver, after receiving a bite, suspected to be from a cave spider as cave spiders were in the vicinity of the location where she was bitten.

"About 30 seconds after turning and leaving the cave entrance a numbness spread from near the base of the third finger of the left hand. A red spot was centred at this site. The numbness affected an area including adjacent knuckles and the first section of that finger. A few minutes later, pain began, centred at the site. It was accompanied by redness and swelling. This pain intensified until it reached a peak at about 12 hours, then gradually abated completely over 3 days, accompanied by itching as it subsided. Swelling continued for a few days after the pain subsided. The thing that stood out for me was the numbness: I described it at the time as a feeling of a local anaesthetic spreading quickly."