There’s a Redback in my Kitchen

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When there’s a redback in your kitchen, it’s something to note. Australians and arachnophobes alike will know what I’m talking about here.

This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

Despite learning the hard way the punch a centipede bite can pack, seeing snakes slither in Springbrook, and discovering the Australian Huntsman taking over our microwave, we have become somewhat complacent about the dangers that abound here in Australia. We have had so many Australians balk at our timid inquiries as to how to deal with being in a county rife with the world’s most dangerous creatures, that now we simply do as the Aussies do: shrug and go about our day.

And this really is the only way to cope with the tiny venomous creatures that lurk in dark corners and slither along side us. Parents adopt the mantra of “look before your reach” to their explorative kids, and when walking in tall grass you make lots of noise so the snakes can hear you coming and give you a wide berth. (As an aside, I am quite excited to see a snake here – on my terms of course. I’d like to see it from afar, admire it, and be done with it. Being surprised by one – which is more often than not how it goes – is another matter).

On with the story, Nora. There is a Redback in my kitchen that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

In order to sleep at night, I have essentially convinced myself that the really bad spiders don’t live indoors. Or at least they don’t live indoors anywhere I happen to be. When I clean the cottages after guests leave (as I volunteer in trade for accommodation at Kingbilli), I feel no fear about reaching around corners, under furniture, and in other dark places in an attempt to get everything spic and span. One area I thankfully have missed – until now – is underneath the floor lamps.

“I think I just found a Redback,” Kelly calls out one day. I don’t pay it much heed, since he has cried wolf a few times now, once almost hoping that the tiny (harmless) spider in our bathroom was a Redback, among other instances. But the waver in his voice this time is enough to pique my curiosity. Ginny saunters over calmly to investigate, and confirms Kelly’s observation.

“Yes, that’s a Redback spider. A very pregnant one at that,” she says, observing the eggs that have already been laid in the spider’s lair under the lamp. “This is the perfect place for one; it’s dark and cool and secluded,” she says, as I make a mental note of how many floor lamps and other similar dark cool places exist in our own cottage.

Redback spiders are the cousin to the Black Widow, and as such are the second deadliest spider in the world (next to the Sydney Funnelweb spider – thankfully indigenous to Sydney and not Melbourne). Despite its horribly venemous bite, I know a guy who has endured two bites, and has lived to tell the story, with little more than a few hellish weeks of illness to show for it. But children, the elderly, and unhealthy should beware of the Redback.

The good news is that Redbacks are very docile creatures; unlike other spiders, they won’t jump, and won’t come after you. They will bite only if coerced into doing so, for example if you pick one up or really get in its way.

We took care of that Redback swiftly, and closed the chapter our lives that saw us as oblivious to these poisonous creatures. Now we were on the hunt.

And our search was rewarded – while cleaning the other cottage, underneath a floor lamp no less, was Redback number two. But this time Kelly – ever the little boy – decided to keep it as a pet.

This is why there is a Redback in my kitchen, in a plastic container, being fed ants and flies by the maternal Kelly himself. His lifespan is probably not going to be too long (the spider’s that is) given that plastic containers are probably not its ideal habitat, and I hope to let it go soon.

It gives me the creeps just thinking about our new house-pet. I dread going into the kitchen half expecting to discover that the (covered) Tupperware container is eerily empty…cue in the horror movie music.

Which is why I simply don’t go into the kitchen any more. It’s actually a great diet regime – what a way to cut down on snacking. Take this to extremes, and I have visions of my emaciated self withering away in the living room, while Kelly dotes on an ever-growing Redback spider. I wonder who will last longer…the Redback…or me.

And if you’re not shuddering yet, check out this video showing our discovery of the lovely Redback.

NOTE: Upon further research, we are not so sure that this is a Redback, and not a near relative to the Redback (like the Brown Widow). We are told that adolescent Redbacks lack the distinctive red stripe, but we’re not so sure any more. Does anybody have any feedback given what you’ve seen?

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9 thoughts on “There’s a Redback in my Kitchen”

  1. Hi. I stumbled upon your blog and just had to stop and say how cool I think it is that you are traveling the world.

    I want a pet Redback. What’s its name?

    Reply
  2. Kill it!

    Also: seriously reconsidering my trip to Sydney. OK, maybe not, but will definitely look before reaching into dark, cool corners.

    Reply
  3. @Ben – Sadly (Thankfully!), we didn’t get a chance to name our pet Redback before letting it go to live a happy spider’s life…far away from our place!
    Thanks for stopping by the blog…keep checking in for some crazy adventures to come! We have a habit of attracting some interesting stuff.

    @Anon – Even though spiders are generally icky creatures, I have this “thing” with killing them. I leave that to the courageous men in my life!
    But seriously, don’t worry about your trip to Sydney. Everybody looked at us like we were crazy for being worried when we first arrived in Oz. Like you said – just look before you reach!

    Reply
  4. Allow me to offer this small correction to an error made in this post and some earlier ones:

    “Poisonous” animals are those that contain toxins that will make a predator sick or dead upon injesting them. They are usually very brightly coloured as a form of(aposematic) warning colouration.

    “Venomous” animals are those that can inject toxins into a victim by their bite or sting.

    In any case, play safe, and keep those blogs coming!

    Reply
  5. Thanks, Anon, for the clarification. I had interpreted “venomous” as a bite that “won’t-kill-you-but-hurts-a-lot”, and “poisonous” as a bite that kills. I stand corrected.
    And now for avoiding eating any brightly coloured animals…

    Reply
  6. Thats not a redback,
    Red backs wont bite you,
    Red backs “venom” is only dangerous or deadly to those allergic.
    Only 1 person has died from a red back bite in Australia since the introduction anti-venom in 1956.
    I have lived with red backs in the garden and basement all my life without problem.
    So have my kids and neighbors and any1 in Victoria that dosnt get fumigated.

    I don’t like to be racist but trust Americans to irrationally over sensationalize an issue at the sake of an underdog, to make their ego feel like an action hero.

    You just killed a living energy sharing the same space/time as yourself with the same fluke of being alive as yourself, and just (if not more) unique as yourself, all because you thought it was something it wasn’t.

    Why, because its easier for you to kill it, than to live with it feeling uncomfortable with your ignorance.

    Please think about it…
    If people just get over there ego and started being aware and the world would be such a better place.

    Reply
  7. @Know it all:
    1) I am not American.
    2) I don’t appreciate racism of any kind. The insertion of the word “but” into any sentence negates whatever you said in the first half. In fact, your entire comment is a demonstration of racism at its very best.
    3) We had no choice but to kill the first spider, as we were not in control of the situation. If you had actually read the article in its entirety, you will see that the second one was captured, studied, and released.

    4) Unless you have something nice to say, the world would be a much better place if you said nothing at all.

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate all points of view. However be prepared: if you deal out a negative – and inaccurate – comment on my Web Site, please expect to be met with a similarly matched response.

    Reply
  8. Know it all
    I just found a redback as I went to open the kitchen cupboard between the oven and the dishwasher. It surprised me as I’ve never seen it before!
    I think it was as surprised as me and quickly scurried away underneath the kitchen scurting.

    Should I be concerned?!?

    I have a beautiful ginger kitty. She often goes under the house and I’ve heard there’s heaps under there!!!
    ??

    Reply

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