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Atrax robustus
General Details, Taxonomy and Biology, Venom, Clinical Effects, Treatment, First Aid , Antivenoms
Atrax  robustus ( Sydney Funnel Web Spider  )  [ Original photo copyright © Dr Julian White ]
Suborder: Mygalomorphae
Family: Hexathelidae
Genus: Atrax
Species: robustus
Common Names
Sydney Funnel Web Spider
Taxonomy and Biology
Size: Large atracine spider.

Male: Carapace length 9.22 - 12.30 mm.

Female: Carapace length 9.69 - 13.89 mm.
Large atracine spider. Body length of males ( excluding jaws or chelicerae ) about 25 mm and females about 35 mm. Glossy dark brown to black on the carapace and brown to black, often with a plum tinge, on the dorsolateral abdomen.
Open coastal forest, tall open forest ( remnant closed forest ) and upland forest.
Terrestrial predator. Tends to construct its retreat on the ground beneath rocks and fallen timber, often on gully slopes with moist soil. The white silk tube is long, sometimes up to 0.6 metres with a Y- or T-shaped entrance offerring two points of entry or exit and braced with many struts to hold it in position.
Feeds mainly on insects, their larvae, snails, millipedes, skinks frogs or any other small creature wandering near the retreat entrance.
Species Map
Small (Approx 20k) version
Average Venom Qty
0.14 mg ( dry weight ), Sutherland and Tibballs (2001) ( Ref : R001112 ).
General: Venom Neurotoxins
Excitatory neurotoxins
General: Venom Myotoxins
Not present
General: Venom Procoagulants
Not present
General: Venom Anticoagulants
Not present
General: Venom Haemorrhagins
Not present
General: Venom Nephrotoxins
Not present
General: Venom Cardiotoxins
Secondary cardiotoxicity only
General: Venom Necrotoxins
Not present
General: Venom Other
Not present or not significant
Clinical Effects
General: Dangerousness
Severe envenoming possible, potentially lethal
General: Rate of Envenoming: 10-20%
General: Untreated Lethality Rate: Most cases minor, but in severe cases, high lethality rate if untreated.
General: Local Effects
Local pain only
General: Local Necrosis
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: General Systemic Effects
Headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, coma, rarely convulsions.
General: Myotoxicity
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Coagulopathy & Haemorrhages
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Renal Damage
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Cardiotoxicity
Rare, usually secondary
General: Other
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
First Aid
Description: First aid for Funnel Web Spider Bites (Australia)
1. If the spider is still attached, immediately remove it, being careful not to sustain further bites, and place to spider in a jam jar or other container, so it may be brought to the hospital for identification.
2. After ensuring the patient and onlookers are no longer at risk of further bites by the spider, the bitten person should be reassured and persuaded to lie down and remain still. Many will be terrified, fearing sudden death and, in this mood, they may behave irrationally or even hysterically. The basis for reassurance is the fact that many bites do not result in envenoming, and the effectiveness of modern medical treatment.
3. The bite wound should not be tampered with in any way.
4. If the bite is on a limb, a broad bandage (even torn strips of clothing or pantyhose) should be applied over the bitten area at moderate pressure (as for a sprain; not so tight circulation is impaired), then extended to cover as much of the bitten limb as possible, including fingers or toes, going over the top of clothing rather than risking excessive limb movement by removing clothing. The bitten limb should then be immobilised as effectively as possible using an extemporised splint or sling.
5. If there is any impairment of vital functions, such as problems with respiration, airway, circulation, heart function, these must be supported as a priority. In particular, both airway and respiration may be impaired, requiring urgent and prolonged treatment, which may include the mouth to mask (mouth to mouth) technique of expired air transfer. Seek urgent medical attention.
6. Do not use Tourniquets, cut, suck or scarify the wound or apply chemicals or electric shock.
7. Avoid peroral intake, absolutely no alcohol. No sedatives outside hospital. If there will be considerable delay before reaching medical aid, measured in several hours to days, then give clear fluids by mouth to prevent dehydration.
8. If the offending spider has been killed or caught it should be brought with the patient for identification. Many relatively harmless spiders may appear similar to the funnel web spiders and there are several species of funnel web spiders, so identification of the spider is important.
9. The spider bite victim should be transported as quickly and as passively as possible to the nearest place where they can be seen by a medically-trained person (health station, dispensary, clinic or hospital). The bitten limb must not be exercised as muscular contraction will promote systemic absorption of venom. If no motor vehicle or boat is available, the patient can be carried on a stretcher or hurdle, on the pillion or crossbar of a bicycle or on someone's back.
10. Most traditional, and many of the more recently fashionable, first aid measures are useless and potentially dangerous. These include local cauterization, incision, excision, amputation, suction by mouth, vacuum pump or syringe, combined incision and suction ("venom-ex" apparatus), injection or instillation of compounds such as potassium permanganate, phenol (carbolic soap) and trypsin, application of electric shocks or ice (cryotherapy), use of traditional herbal, folk and other remedies including the ingestion of emetic plant products and parts of the snake, multiple incisions, tattooing and so on.

Treatment Summary
Funnel web spider bites, though mostly minor, can cause severe, even fatal envenoming rapidly, so all cases should be managed as a medical emergency. At the first sign of systemic envenoming, IV CSL Funnel Web Spider Antivenom should be given, 2-4 vials initially, depending on severity, followed by further doses if envenoming persists or recurs.
Key Diagnostic Features
Painful bite, rapid development of systemic envenoming, with perioral tingling, tongue fasciculation, headache, nausea, increased sweating, salivation, lachrymation, piloerection, hypertension, pulmonary oedema.
General Approach to Management
All cases should be treated as urgent & potentially lethal. Rapid assessment & commencement of treatment including appropriate antivenom (if indicated & available) is mandatory. Admit all cases.
Antivenom Therapy
Antivenom is the key treatment for systemic envenoming. Multiple doses may be required.
1. Antivenom Code: IAuCSL04
Antivenom Name: Funnel-web spider antivenom
Manufacturer: CSL Limited
Phone: ++61-3-9389-1911
Toll free: 1800 642 865
Address: 45 Poplar Road
Victoria 3052
Country: Australia
Atrax robustus ( Sydney Funnel Web Spider ) [ Original photo copyright © Dr Julian White ]
Larger version
Atrax robustus ( Sydney Funnel Web Spider ) [ Original photo copyright © Dr Julian White ]
Larger version
Atrax robustus ( Sydney Funnel Web Spider ) [ Original photo copyright © Dr Julian White ]
Larger version
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