There are 35 species of funnel web spider distributed alone the eastern seaboard of Australia but only 6 of these are dangerous. The deadliest, of course is the Sydney funnel web spider that is found in the vicinity of the city of Sydney.
The Sydney funnel web spider (Atrax robustus) is the deadliest spider in the world. The funnel web spider is ranked as the 9th most venomous animal in the world. Its venom, if untreated can kill a human in as little as 15 minutes. Interestingly, this spiders venom is only fatal to primates such as humans. Cats and dogs don't seem to suffer the same consequences.
The Sydney funnel web spider is a large aggressive spider with prominent and menacing fangs. If threatened it will rear up, display its prominent fangs and stand its ground and attack if necessary.
They have body lengths of 35mm for the females and 25mm for males. Being an arachnid its body consists of two parts. The front part referred to as the cephalothorax contains eight tiny eyes, brain, mouth consisting of a tube similar to a feeding straw, its chelicerae which are pincers with inbuilt fangs, pedipalps which are a set of arms for holding prey, venom glands, a sucking stomach and all of its eight long legs. (See diagram). The cephalothorax is a glossy black in colour. The second part of its body is its abdomen, located immediately behind the cephalothorax and joined to it by a thin flexible waist called a pedicel. This acts like a joint, allowing the spider to move its abdomen without moving its cephalothorax. The abdomen contains its lungs, heart, intestine, reproductive organs, silk glands and spinnerets from which it produces its silk. The abdomen is usually black or dark purple in colour.
The funnel web spider builds a funnel-shaped web (hence its name the "funnel web") with fine strands of silk web treads extending from the entrance into the surrounding area. These thread act as tripwires. The moment an unwitting insect trips on of these threads the funnel web spider. Lurking within its burrow leaps out and stings its prey, paralysing it, and drags it into its lair to be consumed. The spiders diet usually consists of as all sorts of crawling insects such has beetles, cockroaches, snails and also small animals such as lizards.
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