Thursday, October 23, 2008

Come Into My Parlour Said the Spider to the Bird

Ok I do live in a country where everything wants to kill you (apparently) but we don't have lions or tigers or bears, or gangs or the right to bear arms by tracksuited bling boys. Our predators are largely animalian. The worst are small but this really got me with the gross factor.

I live among Sydney Funnel Web Spiders, the deadliest of all but they're small and hidden and very rarely do people get bitten. Usually gardeners not wearing gloves or people who leave their laundry on the floor in damp and cool conditions. Spiders generally dislike heat and sunshine. There are the Redbacks (black widows) but they're teensy and easily spotted with their shiny tiny black bodies and yellow, orange or more common, red stripe. Actually, they're rather delicate and shy. Sure we have one of the most poisonous snakes in the world, the 'Fierce Snake' (there's that wonderful ability for Australians to name things originally). But down here, it's browns and blackies and they'd sooner run than be discovered. And there's the odd Croc that likes the odd sandle donning tourist if they're stupid enough to swim in a NT billabong

The very worst I get at this time of the year - mating season - are Huntsman Spiders. They're docile, leggy, hairy but quite big. Around here the largest has a leg to leg span of about 10cms but they're shy, harmless and constantly victim to Adam's work boots. I was growing one for my visitor in January but now I just have corpses littering the toilet and bathroom floors!

HOWEVER . . in caps for uber emphasis. I logged into yesterday and saw this. Now I'm pretty sure that you're common golden orb is quite small . .I've had one smatter my face whilst cantering along a bush trail years ago. And yes I fell off because horseriding requires the commitment of two hands on the reins and flailing madly to remove a tiny spider and a helluva sticky web saw me seriously unbalanced.

THIS amazing image of a mammoth spider devouring a bird in someone's GARDEN! was taken in the backyard of a property near Cairns in far north Queensland. They seem to grow 'em a lot bigger up there.

The image, which is being cirulated via email worldwide, is real, according to wildlife experts, The Cairns Post reported.

The photo,taken earlier this week, shows the spider clenching its legs around a lifeless bird trapped in a web at a property near Atherton, west of Cairns.

Joel Shakespeare, the head spider keeper at NSW's Australian Reptile Park (famous for 'milking' snake and spider venom for antivenine production), identified the spider and said, "Normally they prey on large insects, it's unusual to see one eating a bird," Well you don't say!

Mr Shakepeare said he had seen golden orb weaver spiders as big as a human hand - (OMG) but the northern species in tropical areas were known to grow larger. Right, that's put Cairns right off the travel agenda!

The poor little finch is a chestnut-breasted mannikin most likely to have flown into the web and got caught. How sticky is that web! God I've got the shivers just thinking about it! Now DBM where's your camera?

"It wouldn't eat the whole bird," he said. Mmm consolation to the poor little finch! Now go away if you're scared of spiders . . don't say I didn't warn you . . .

You're average garden Golden Orb . . harmless enough and easy to identify. They're the ones with the lovely dew encrusted webs early in the morning . . .quite pretty really.

You're Cairns version. . . now this even made me reel and look at it's proximity to the house!

Mmm . . bitten off a little more than it can chew!

Addenda: This is the dude that haunts my house in spring, you can get an idea of scale. Snapped on the house bricks just outside my front door:


Miles McClagan said...

We had a scorpion in our toilet once, but that things scarier than Nikki Webster...I need a lie down...

Thriftcriminal said...

Cool! Spiders to look profoundly alien and evoke a visceral reaction in most people. I'm kind of glad we don't get any serious ones around us, so I'm happy enough to pick em up and bung them outside (usually with the help of a glass and a bit of cardboard).

Baino said...

Miley nothing's scarier than Nicky Webster (except Nickleback and Kellie Clarkson) Problem is, you can't chuck em out with a jam jar and a piece of cardboard. I had a blue tongue in my shower . .actually had a bat in my shower . . (must clean my shower)

Thrifty I think you are sounding braver than you are! My bro used to pick them up and throw them out but I have a technique . . quick disabling spray of Mortein spider spray then thwack em with a thong (erm flip flop not underwear)

Grannymar said...

My Elly won't be round to visit today!

She hates spiders of all shapes and sizes. I just deal with them when I have to, as I do with the tiny field mice in the garage in winter.

laughingwolf said...

most times i like spiders... a friend has 18 tarantulas in her home... but i'd likely be a tad nervous around your bird eater....

Ropi said...

Well, I don't need iPhone to be cool hehe. Moreover I consider economic factor at buying a new phone.

steph said...

Aaaargh! *runs off quietly to get sick*

I thought it bad enough the other day when I saw a large fly being devoured by an even larger spider.

They'll have to re-write that song now...

"I know an old lady who swallowed a spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the... bird?

Remind me never to visit Oz in the Spring!

Bear Naked said...

Had to scroll quickly past the photos you posted.
Do you know I have chills up and down my spine right now!

Bear((( )))

Don't Bug Me! said...

OK Baino, that is disgusting! I may like insects, but spiders just give me the willies - all those long, black spindly legs, ughh. I have just got back from a trip to the amazon jungle where I saw the biggest tarantula ever - while I did have my camera with me, I will admit to putting the telephoto lens on and I would only get so close to the monster to get a photo.

Christopher said...

Wow, spiders give so many people the willies. I'm at the exact opposite end of the spectrum: I see a spider and my first reaction is to get closer for a better look. And I love golden orb weavers because (1) they're beautiful and (2) they have a lovely scientific name, Nephila. Sounds so regal, doesn't it?
And Baino, I love the pic of the dude who haunts your house. But are you sure it's a dude?
My favorite spider story is how, as a kid, I found this lovely shiny black spider with a red hourglass on its underside. My friend who was with me picked it up and put it in a jar and we went to show it to our parents. Our parents panicked and said, "Which one of you picked it up?" He and I both pointed at each other and said, "He did."

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Bloody hell. I'm sticking with the lions, cheetahs, leopards, sharks, hyenas...
That said, we get whoppers here too - one called a baboon spider, which is basically a tarantula, about the spread of your huntsman but fatter and always grins horribly... and another called a monkey spider, about the same size, but slender with fawn "fur". There're other nasty smaller varieties, like the black widows, but like most spiders, they're shy.

Nick said...

I like spiders, I don't have any problem with them. Mind you, spiders here aren't as big as yours - and they don't eat birds. I saw that picture in the papers this morning. What's interesting about spiders is how adaptable they are. They can live just about anywhere, including in deserts and under water.

Moon said...

thats a pain, just typed out a sparkling witty comment .... bugger !

well, I was saying, we have a torid time with black widows, I am constanly battling with them, esp as they are breeding right now !

When I lived in Adelaide we had a huge huntsman on the wall, nice chap though, we quite liked him there, but the Orb that lived on the washing line, nasty business... hated him/her, she would spin her web across the yard !

bill Bryson does an excellent section at the start of his book about Oz on the things that can kill you ... it's a great read !

Miladysa said...



Megan said...

That's just wrong. Wrong on so many levels. Brrrrrr.

Megan said...

(Not you though, Baino!)

Baino said...

Grannymar Can't say I blame her. I wish there was a spider big enough to eat rodents! Erm, no I don't really

Wuffa, 18, now that's just weird!

Ropi Hey cool cat! Good to see your fiscally responsible!

Steph nothing short of disgusting, imagine running into that web! GAH! Come to Oz just don't go to Cairns!

Bear, gave me a bit of a shock when I opened the news page I can tell you, nearly fell off my chair! The girl that sits next

to me at work is absolutely TERRIFIED of spiders, if she'd seen it she'd have burst into tears!

DBM thank goodness for the zoom lens. I didn't get too close to the huntsman either!

Christopher, I quite like the orb variety too but not that big! It seems that black widows, or redbacks, as we call them, are

pretty prevolent in most warm countries/state. They can make you pretty sick but only a threat to young children I

believe! You were lucky.

AV seems we have more in common than nice beaches and big skies! I hate the fat ones!

Nick you have to be careful when skimming the pool because often a spider will fall in and appear dead but is very much

alive and awaiting rescue. They can walk on water too!

Moon I allow them to wonder round the window frames which is where they seem to prefer to be, lurking after mozzies

and the like but if they're in the bedrooms, they're toast. Although Adam hates them and they're dispatched toot sweet!

Miladysa EXACTLY what I said before I fell off my chair!

Megan imagine squishing it! Messy!

Annie Ha said...

wow, um, those are some really big spiders. I don't mind the little daddy long legs we got here. Those ones I would probably run squealing away...

Ces said...

I have been back and forth and could not get myself to finish a comment without cringing, goosebumps and nausea and without controling my instict to swat that daddy-long-legs thang trying to swallow that huge bird. Next time have a sign. Warning: Arachnophobia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brrrr!

kj said...

baino, YOU"VE got the shivers?!

you are heartless! how am i going to enjoy my chocolate pudding now?

Baino said...

Annie, damn right! Unusual for a Golden orb to be THAT big!

Ces, I warned you before the pictures, you just couldn't help scrolling down now - admit it! And we all know that spiders liquify their food and it's a little bitty finch not a huge bird. Tis a shocking spider! I'll put something pretty up tommorrow!

kj NOTHING and I mean NOTHING . . should ever put you off chocolate pudding!

Kath Lockett said...

That's why god invented the thong - for me to scream, rush outside and say to Love Chunks, "There's a huntsman in our bedroom. Take your thong off and KILL it!"

Quickroute said...

argh! - nightmares tonight!
I like spiders when they eat flies but birds?!!!

laughingwolf said...

she's also wiccan....

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh No!! Now you've just totally ruined any chance Emptyhead and Sis had of a visit next year!
I'm glad I live where I live. The biggest thing we have is a badger, mind you, two hedgehogs could do serious damage, if they fell out of a tree onto your eyes.

Jay said...

Aw .. poor little finch! Good thing that birds tend to faint easily and can die of shock, huh? Might have saved it some suffering.

I wonder if that's better or worse than being played with by a sadistic cat?

Baino said...

Kath gotta love the thong. Even watched homes and gardens last night and they turned thongs into surprisingly pretty wall hangings!

Quickie I'd have thought you came from the land of large arachnids!

Wuffa - haha she might be but I'm pretty sure Tarantulas aren't, they're Mexican :P

Nah Jack you're right, they're in Melbourne, they don't have too many down there. Lived there for 2 years and never saw one - a huntsman that is! Damn those hedgehogs, they're as deadly as drop bears.

Jay they are a bit prone to that aren't they. The pundits feel it must have exhausted itself in the web as a Golden Orb would normally never take on a bird. It's an insect eater. Much better than a cat, they just do it for fun!

Bimbimbie said...

LOL I'm rolling about the floor Baino - you live and drive around Sydney and a bird eating spider scares you*!*

Baino said...

Oh C'mon Bimbimbie tut tut not tsup tsup! It's a freak! Don't tell me you'd like one of those dangling from your washing line! I know you're in the bush but . . and have fornicating snakes in your ceiling but . . mmm . . maybe you are tough. I can deal with the huntsmen, I can deal with the black snakes but if something like that latched onto me I'd DIE!

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