Trying to work out how to catch a Funnel Web

[Update] – I thought these were Funnel Web spiders but now I’m pretty sure they are trapdoors, possibly the Sydney Brown Trap-door. See comments below.

As much as I hate to do it I recently killed a few large Funnel Web Trap-door Spiders that had taken up residence close to the house near where the kids play. I did it by pouring petrol down their holes until they came out, then squashed them. Not nice but when they’re that close I didn’t feel like I had a choice. They were big ones, it took 2 liters of petrol to get 2 to come out of their holes. I didn’t like killing them, and also didn’t like pouring that much fuel into the ground. It got me searching around for more info on Funnel Webs and how to deal with them.

As far as catching goes all that I could find was instructions on how to pop a jar over the top of them. Nothing on how to lure them out of their holes. From looking around I learned that stocks of Funnel Web anti venom is low because of low numbers of the spiders in captivity that are milked to produce the anti venom. The Australian Reptile park, where the anti venom is made, is making requests for anyone able to catch a live Funnel Web to drop them off. That’s cool, if I could only catch them then they could be put to some use.

Hoping to come up with something I researched a bit more about the spiders habits and diet. True to their name Funnel Webs live in holes in the ground often with a funnel shaped web at the opening. They lay fine web trip wires near the entrance then at night wait for any small creature to disturb the trip, then they pounce, subduing the prey with potent venom. In this way Funnel Webs eat insects, small lizards and frogs.

Late at night I visited another group of Funnel Web Trap-door holes out the front near to the street. It was Funnel Web Trap-door city, I counted about 30 individuals, mostly smaller but about 4 or 5 big ones, all sitting at the mouths of their holes waiting for dinner. I had a go at trying to get a few of the bigger ones out of their holes by lightly scraping a stick near the entrance. Some individuals pounced then quickly retreated back down the hole, others just retreated straight down the hole. There would be no way you could pop a jar over them.

Sydney Funnel Web Brown Trap-door Spider waiting in it’s hole for dinner to come by.
There were about 30 individuals in the small area under this tree, another smaller spider can be seen in it’s hole below the larger one

The next night I brought a bottle of water and emptied it down a hole hoping the spider would be flooded out, but again it just retreated down the hole.

I’m still scratching my head on what to do, I’m going to try the water in the hole again, but with more water. Hopefully it will come out enough to pop a jar over the top of it.

References and links

4 thoughts on “Trying to work out how to catch a Funnel Web

  1. What if you stuck a spade/shovel in an angle just under it, blocking the spider from going back down it’s hole then use the jar trick when it comes out of it’s holes because it’s got no where else to go? It might be a good idea to push the spade or a shovel in really quick so it doesn’t hurt the spider. I’m guessing the spider would get really pissed off after this so be really careful not to get bitten. I’ve been trying to figure out ways to lure them out but after reading this I might give what I just said a go. I have been out looking at the holes at night once and have seen one right at the entrance. Never thought much of it until you pointed out they do this often.
    My girlfriend works in the garden digging holes right next to these spiders holes and I’m a little worried. I tried blocking their holes hoping they’d move away but didn’t work. Also tried the water trick… They will be going straight to the reptile park after I catch them. I do have a fear for spiders so it’s not going to be easy lol. They give me goosebumps etc.

  2. Hi Steve, sounds like a plan, I would be interested to hear how it goes! Judging by how much petrol I put down the first hole they go very deep, I think it will take a bit of work to dig them out.

    After I posted this I revisited the spiders on my yard and now I think they are *not* funnel webs but trapdoor spiders. The main reason being the size of the spinnerets at the back of the abdomen, funnel webs have large ones, trapdoors are smaller. I’ll try to get some more photos and update the post.

  3. These are unlikely to be Funnel-webs, more likely to be Sydney Brown Trap-door Spiders. Funnel-web burrows look quite different and are rarely out in the open; usually under some sort of cover. You will often find them under old doors, sheets of tin, rocks etc and what you see is not the burrow but a white “Y” shaped sock funnel. Often the spider is inside the funnel on the surface, otherwise the burrow entrance goes into the ground from inside the Y shaped funnel. The Sydney Brown Trap door looks quite similar to a Funnel-web but is more brown than the shiny black of the Funnel web. Surprisingly, although it’s called a “trap door”, it’s one of the few “trap doors” that doesn’t actually build a door to it’s burrow.

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