16 October 2015

Public service announcement in Australia - Desperately seeking deadly spiders ... in particular (Atrax robustus)

An incredibly interesting and most astonishing arachnid news story caught my eye on the BBC news website entitled, "Desperately seeking deadly spiders in Australia".  Apparently, the general public has been asked to help capture live specimens of the notorious and deadly funnel-web spiders and take their specimens in jars to designated drop-off points at the Australian Reptile Park  where people in the know will "milk" the venom from the spiders and use them in the production of much needed anti-venom!  I hope no-one who is bold enough to take up this deadly challenge will get bitten in the process.  Here is the link for your information:
Apart from that, whilst I was reading the article on the internet and looking at life size images of the funnel-web spider, I experienced a strong sense of déjà vu as if I had seen this particular spider before, the photograph reminded very much of the spiders which inhabited our basement and garden in Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa in 2007.

Whilst the funnel-web spiders are commonly known in Australia as the Sydney funnel-web spider as they are "usually found within a 100 km (62 mi) radius of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia", I wondered what the world wide geographical range was for this particular spider species known by its Latin name as Atrax robustus and whether sightings had also been made in Tunisia? An initial search on the internet led me to The Animal Diversity website ADW which stated in its first paragraph that it can only be found in Australia.   http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Atrax_robustus/

However, I am so convinced that these were indeed the spiders which had inhabited the basement and garden of our old house in Tunis that I have decided to contact the arachnologist friends that I had made back in 2007 and ask their views on the matter. I will up-date this line of inquiry in the form of a follow-up blog post if I get a response from any of them.

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