What the Hell is a Huntsman Spider But Even More Importantly: WHY is it?!
Hello! Do you ever plan to visit Australia? Well before you do you should know that you shouldn’t. Not just because it’s a short sprint’s distance away from the Sun and the colossal boiling desert that makes up 99.999999999999999% of its landmass is an inhospitable death oven swarming with creatures that really want to kill you and are really good at doing exactly that—but because even those few places along the island’s coastline where humans actually have a sliver’s chance of surviving are home to animals that look like God took some really bad acid and then decided to recreate what he saw. Box jellyfish whose venom is so strong the pain is literally indescribable and which causes death by cardiac arrest within minutes. Eastern brown snakes whose bite is painless but which causes paralysis and uncontrollable bleeding. A viciously racist immigration policy and colonial past that would love to see all non-whites graciously bow out of existence.
And those are just the normal-looking things! They’re deadly, sure, but you look at them and go, ‘Huh. Yeah, I guess, that’s kinda standard.’
Because then there are the grotesques. And there are a lot of grotesques. We’re talking coconut crab-level monstrosities. Like fucking Shelob here:
That monster, which backwards-baseball-cap-and-bucket-Frodo is trying to defeat, is called a Huntsman spider.
Because it hunts men. For fun.
Because I mean look at the fucking thing. This image posted on Reddit of what came out of hiding when the user was renovating their floors looks like it’s already hunted many men:
And there’s something else about it that’s really disturbing…
Something that I can’t quite put my finger on…
Yep. That’s it. The giant eight-legged bitch’s got feet. It looks like it’s gonna feast on a child and then tapdance away.
The Huntsman spider is a member of the family Sparassidae, and is sometimes referred to as a giant crab spider. There are several types of Hunstman spider, including the Common Huntsman (Isopeda, Isopedella), the Banded Huntsman (Holconia), the Badge or Shield Huntsman (Neosparassus), the Tropical or Brown Huntsman (Heteropoda), and the Flat Huntsman (Delena). There are more than a thousand species within the family, spread out not just in Australasia, but also in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Americas (including Florida).
—- Note to self: ‘Never…leave…England again…’ —-
But let’s all calm down, because actually, despite their horror-like appearance, science tells us that Huntsman spiders are a relatively harmless set of arachnids, with a bite that can be very painful and cause things like vomiting and an irregular pulse rate, but nothing much worse than that. The symptoms vary depending on the individual type of Huntsman doing the biting and the individual human being chomped, but as a rule they do not stray into actually dangerous territory.
Adult Huntsman spiders are also interesting in that they do not build webs. And that’s mostly because they’re just so damn big. They don’t need webs. They go on the prowl, and they pick off prey wherever they may find it. They love hanging around under loose bits of wood, in between rocks and trees, and in dense foliage. They have been known to venture into human homes now and then, seeking shelter in dark corners or underneath furniture. If you find one, don’t set the house on fire, but do try to get rid of the spider, as the female can lay up to two hundred eggs in no time at all. Huntsman spiders are typically not particularly aggressive towards humans, although females protecting their egg sacs have been known to rightfully show a little bit of zesty energy. So, you know: Approach with healthy caution. Which I’m sure you don’t have to be told to do when facing down something that looks like it came to carry away your cats it its fangs.
Oh, and like all spiders, the Huntsman sheds its skin. Which, yes, of course there’s a video!
Now, the Australian Huntsman is a big freaking spider. But it’s not the biggest. If you want the biggest (and I know you do), you gotta go to Laos. There you will find the Giant Huntsman spider. While the Giant Huntsman is not the largest spider in the world by mass—that award goes to the Goliath Birdeater tarantula of South America (up to 170 g/6 oz.)—it is the largest by leg span, which can go all the way up to 30 centimetres/1 foot.
So while you’re processing that information and building your barricades I’ll leave you with a story from Reddit that is probably made up but which is nevertheless the worst collection of words ever committed to the internet:
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