The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Mouse spider

Fact Box
Species:
Missulena occatoria (RM)
Family:
Actinopodidae
Body length:
female: 25-30 mm
male: 8-12 mm
Habitat:
In open bush settings in a burrow with a well hidden entrance; males are often found above ground in daylight in Autumn; females remain underground unless excavated
Toxicity:
Uncertain; the male is the more aggressive and its venom may be able to cause serious envenomation in humans, though reports of bitings are rare
Missulena occatoria
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Female carapace
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Male carapace
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Burrow entrance

The most important characteristics of the female of this species are the glossy black colour, the shortened cephalothorax with its very wide spread of eyes, and the very large chelicerae and fangs. The male is much smaller and the carapace and chelicerae are red rather than black. Mouse spiders dig deep burrows closed by a double door arrangement. The burrow is so well camouflaged that it is rarely noticed. Mostly, females are dug up by accident, but if the weather is wet males sometimes wander into houses during their breeding season, which on the Darling Downs is autumn and early winter. At the present time, both sexes should be considered potentially dangerous to humans.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Missulena bradleyi and Missulena dipsaca.


Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 30 January 2002.