Red Headed Mouse Spider
Across the continent, mainly west of the Great Dividing Range
The red-headed mouse spider, Missulena occatoria, is found almost everywhere across South Australia. It has a glossy carapace, a high and bulbous head area, widespread eyes across the front of the head, and short and blunt spinnerets. Males have characteristically coloured areas on their bodies.
When burrowing, the red-headed mouse spider creates two trapdoors to ensure a safe exit can occur when threatened. Males are known to wander during summer/autumn, especially after rain.
Red-headed Mouse Spiders can be found in open forest to semi-arid shrub land habitats. Like the trap-door spiders, the mouse spider lives in burrows in the ground, often in banks of rivers, creeks and other waterways, and is sometimes found in suburban gardens. The burrows are built with double or single trapdoors and the entrance is oval-shaped. Some species have a side chamber extending of the main burrow shaft, usually closed by a trap door. It provides a refuge from predators and a safe place for the egg sac and spiderlings. The burrow can extend for a depth of about 30cm - which is unusually deep for a spider, but not as deep as previously claimed for this species.
The females tend to remain in or near their burrows throughout their life, and are sluggish spiders that are rarely aggressive.
Mouse Spider venom may be very toxic, but human envenomation is rare. In serious cases funnel-web spider antivenom has been used effectively.
Some photos and information are provided by Bayer.
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