Eek! The Australian Huntsman

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Eek! The Australian Huntsman.

This post was originally published in 2008, toward the beginning of my 18 time in Australia. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 

For a subsequent entertaining incident where I shared my car with an Australian Huntsman for quite some time, check out this post and this video.

Over the last few months, I have managed to convince myself that there really aren’t an abundance of spiders and snakes here. Having heard from abroad about the proliferance (proliferance [proh-li-fer-ants]: derivative of prolific, meaning in abundance – I really wish that were a word; it makes sense to me) of creepy crawlies in Australia, the vast majority of which are poisonous, they have remained in the back of my mind constantly. I used to check under the toilet seat (a common hang-out for spiders) every time. Going for hikes, I would stomp loudly to scare away the snakes. And I would never, ever grab on to a tree for support before scouring it for creatures that have it in for me.

But having been here for almost four full months now, and having seen only one snake (from a distance), and only a few spiders, all of which were small and far away enough to ignore, I have become complacent.

Sure – the winter season in the southern half of Australia means the snakes are hiding and the spiders are sluggish. But that didn’t matter. Between seeing native Australians’ general nonchalance towards sharing their homes with poisonous creatures, and the lack of seeing any myself, I had truly convinced myself that they wouldn’t actually be IN our home, if they even exist at all.

Not so.

Apparently there are two things that tend to happen when rain is coming: 1) the kookaburras sing – a delight guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and
2) the huntsmen come out.

And by “huntsmen”, I’m not talking about guys dressed in cammo looking for wildlife to shoot.

A few years ago, a friend relayed a personal experience to me of his own travels through Australia and his first encounter with a huntsman. It climaxed in a face-off between my friend with a cleaver in his hand, and the dinner-plate sized spider sitting a mere inches from his face. The spider won.

And now, I get it.

Although the Australian huntsman we encountered sitting placidly on our microwave clock is apparently small in comparison to some of his larger brethren, I am truly hoping not to meet them. The mere fact that this creature likely lives (sorry, lived) in some dark corner of our home is unsettling enough to cause me to lose some sleep. The fact that the huntsman is harmless and that there are other spiders – spiders which can pack a punch – is enough to make me not want to sleep again. Ever.

I simply have to continue to remind myself that people live here. They have lived here for ages. And I don’t know anybody (or even know anybody who knows anybody) who has been killed by them.


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5 thoughts on “Eek! The Australian Huntsman”

  1. Yuck… your photo made me physically shiver. The last time I saw one of those spiders was one that lived inside a wall-mounted air-conditioner in a classroom I sometimes teach in, in Perth – I was teaching a really badly behaved group of visiting Korean school kids aged 12 – 14. The Hunstman came out from the air-con now and again and rather than letting the kids realise how terrifed I was, I told them the spider was my friend and he came out whenever kids were being naughty. Those were the only minutes the kids behaved (and thank goodness that spider didn’t drop down on one of them, or worse, on me!). yech ….

  2. Amanda: I had wondered what sorts of creepy crawlies you see on your side of Oz…the more I talk to Australians, the more I discover that there is really quite a division between Western and Eastern Australia. Thank goodness you don’t see to many Huntsmen! I’m seriously bothered by the fact that I’ve been sharing my home with it!
    And just last night….Kelly thought he found a Redback in our bathroom. Grrr……

  3. I am rather partial to the old huntsman spider, they keep the other bugs at bay. I also find them fascinating they actually have things that look like eyes on the back of their head and numerous sets of eyes on the front.

    The spiders you have to watch out for you won't see until its too late as they are tiny.

    My mum got bitten by a white tip spider and within minutes you could see the red streaks ofinfection spreading up her arm.

    I say infection as according to the doctor we spoke to its not the poison in those guys that will kill you but the bacteria that live on their fangs. Her bite resulted in a trip to hospital lots of antibiotics and a story she loves to scare her Pommy relatives with every chance she gets.

    I figure if I can see the huntsman spider around, he's hopefully living up to its name and hunting & eating the small poisonous spiders I can't see.

  4. These huntsman spiders have a nasty habit of wedging themselves between objects, such as books on a bookshelf. There have been numerous times that I’ve put my hand into a bookshelf to pull out a book, and my fingers have found themselves on top of a furry squishy body!! Eek indeed! Despite this, I’m still quite partial to them myself. They really don’t do any harm despite their scary looks, unlike some of those tiny horrors!

    • @Sharell – true enough! I would much prefer a surprise encounter with a hunstman than some of the other critters we have around!


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