I’d have to say that for this post, I am extremely happy that I have a blog to write it on. On Facebook my spider posts seem to make a lot of people squeamish. And after I tell you what I have to tell you, you may be too.
My love for the Huntsman pretty much started when I moved to Australia, mainly because of its size. Yes, we have deadly spiders in the States. Yes, we have large spiders. But I’m from the Midwest – Indiana to be exact. The biggest spider that we have there (that I’ve actually seen) is the Wolf Spider, and the tiny Barn Spider can easily make an insta-meal out of them.
But here in Australia, the huntsman is a huge spider — with some having about a 15cm (5.9 in) leg span — but it’s not even deadly. Sure, try telling that to its prey. And it’s not incapable of causing some side effects if you do happen to get bitten (more on that later) but for the most part, for bug lovers or people who aren’t fraidy cats (scientific term for arachnophobics), Huntsmen make great housemates.
For one, they don’t build webs. So, no messy webs cluttering up the corners of your rooms. And as their name suggests, they hunt their prey, which happens to be pretty much anything insect wise. See, another good reason to have them around.
Also, they are shy creatures and huntsman are known for surprising people. Because of their flat body shape, they are able to hide easily and in tight spots. Oddly enough, they are notorious for being found in vehicles. I myself have found two in my car. Once was when my husband and I were driving down the road (he was behind the wheel) and I put the visor down and BAM, there it was. So, as I’m taking my camera out to get a picture, my husband pulled over quicker than a pregnant woman with a full bladder and hopped out of the car. (See below)
I won’t get into it in this particular post, but there are many types of Huntsmen. The Grey, The Brown, Banded, etc. The two I see the most are the browns and greys. The above is a brown and the one below is a grey.
For some reason I seem to see a lot larger greys than browns but I see browns with a lot more frequency. At least here in Central Queensland.
So, as I read somewhere on some spider site, most arachnopiles (crazy people who love spiders) are bound to get at least a couple of bites in their adventures. Well, I got my first. All I can say is, thank the good Lord it was a Huntsman and not something deadlier.
But, before you judge me or call me an idiot for putting myself so close to them or laugh because I got what I deserved, let me tell you I did not get the bite from a healthy, active spider.
See, for a few days I had a four-legged Brown Huntsman on my back porch. (For those that don’t know, spiders have eight legs). For a while he seemed to be okay and I assumed he was feeding somehow since he would move and didn’t seem to be hindered by the fact that the four missing legs were all from one side of his body. I know, talk about your bad luck. So, my curiosity had a hold of me and I kept a watch on him. After a couple of days, I even tried to feed him a grasshopper with some tongs ( I never feed live insects to other insects but I felt sorry for it) but aside from propping one of his legs up on the grasshopper, he made no attempt to eat it. And over time he wasn’t even making any attempt to hide. One time even sitting completely in the open on top of a white bucket.
So, when I came out one day and noticed he was on the ground, all four legs curled in, I knew he’d lost the fight. He was off to the side so I left him there. The next morning when I came out, he was once again in dead pose but this time was on top of a pile of linen I needed to move. And since I’d picked up quite a few dead Huntsmen before I didn’t think twice about moving it. First attempt I grabbed a leg and dropped it. Second attempt, I grabbed a leg and WOWZA! felt two very sharp, very painful fangs sink into my thumb. So, what does instinct tell you? Shake your hand like mad. So I did. And it didn’t budge. Spider or fangs.
And here’s the clincher; I had read many times about Huntsmen and I think the only part that stuck in my head was that they couldn’t kill you. Do you think I ever remembering reading, even one time, that the huntsman had what’s known as a ‘cling reflex’? Nope. And once they bite, well, they cling. And they are really good at it. So, here I was with a four-legged, half-dead huntsman with fangs imbedded, clinging to my thumb and my adrenaline is reaching is boiling point, thinking, “The longer it hangs on, the more venom I’m getting.” I lost count of how many times I flicked my hand trying to get this thing to give up, but eventually he did.
I ran to the closest sink and squeezed my thumb upward, bleeding and hopefully devenomizing (my word) it until it was purple and pulsating. And then I hit the internet to find out what was about to happen to me. Local pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations…alrighty.
So, of course for the next couple of hours I psychosymatically caused every one of those symptoms to happen. Well, I didn’t vomit but I sure sat there and was positive it was coming. So, either I did have some of those symptoms or the adrenaline caused what I like to call the Hunstman Hangover. I definitely didn’t feel too hot. But, since I knew death was not on my doorstep, I eventually calmed down and started to feel better.
And I must say, although I would never have wished for it to happen, it has given me a new respect for all of the creatures I encounter. I mean, if a half-dead, four-legged spider can inflict that kind of pain with such speed, what would a healthy one have done? So, a blessing in disguise? Perhaps. Stupid move on my part? Maybe. But lesson learned, either way.
And I can tell you this; I wasn’t mad at the spider and I am not afraid of them now because I got bitten.
They are still my favourite spider.
In memory of Jimmy Four-Legs