Trapdoor Spiders in Australia

Trapdoor Spiders
Pong Wira /

Did you know that there are more than 10,000 species of spiders in Australia? Whether we like it or not, they are a very common sight in the country. Trapdoor spiders, in particular, are a group of species that inhabit tropical and subtropical regions in Japan, North America, and the southwestern United States.

In Australia, the most common types include the Brown trapdoor spider or Sydney trapdoor spider (M. rapax) from the Misgolas group and the Adelaide trapdoor spider (A. subtristis) from the Aganippe group of spiders. Read below to learn more about this arachnid species you can encounter living in Australia.

Characteristics of the trapdoor spider

Again, there are many different trapdoor spiders in the country. Three of the most common ones are the Again, there are many different trapdoor spiders in the country. In this article, we will explore the most popular one of all in more detail, which is the Sydney brown trapdoor spider.

Sydney brown trapdoor spider
Peter Waters /
  • Name: Sydney brown trapdoor spider;
  • Scientific name: M. rapax;
  • Size: 1,5-3,5 cm, female spiders bigger than the male ones;
  • Colour: Dusty brown with golden-brown hair;
  • Lifespan: 5-20 years, the female ones usually live longer;
  • Diet: Small insects like grasshoppers, beetles, and moths;
  • Venom: They are not venomous.

This type of spider is relatively small, although some of them may reach up to 4 cm in size. The female ones are bigger than the male ones. The trapdoor spiders have golden-brown hair on their bodies and grey bars on their abdomen. The male ones are more recognisable, due to the signature spur on their first pair of legs and the tick “boxing glove” palps.

In contrast with other spiders in Australia, the Sydney brown trapdoor spiders have a relatively long life span of 5 to 20 years. It takes several years for them to reach maturity. The male ones live far less than the female ones. In fact, lifespan and size are the two most significant differences between the males and females of this species.

Next, we should mention that they are, unsurprisingly, nocturnal. These spiders have four pairs of legs and two compact rows of eyes. Trapdoor spiders have downward facing fangs, which are typical for the mygalomorphs group of spiders. For most of their lives, they live underground and come out only to eat.

Habitat and distribution

Trapdoor spiders live in burrows in the ground. These burrows can be about 30-40cm deep and are often located near embankments. Their entrance is usually lined with silk-bound leaves. The female ones never travel too far from their burrows, whereas the male ones may spend a significant amount of their lives wandering in search of a mate (especially during humid weather). One male trapdoor spider will usually mate with a few female ones before it dies.

Mating takes place inside the female’s burrow. She lays her eggs several months after mating and protects them inside the burrow. After they are hatched, the spiderlings will spend several months inside the same burrow and then disperse and make their own ones.

The Sydney trapdoor spiders’ habitat stretches from the George's River in southern Sydney to the Hunter River Valley in the north and just west of Parramatta. These arachnids feed on small insects and as mentioned, they are more active at night when they feed. The trapdoor spiders capture their prey when it gets close enough to the burrow.

Bites and danger to humans

Are trapdoor spiders dangerous? When it comes to spiders, in general, this is, of course, the first question that comes to mind. We are happy to share that they are not toxic to humans or pets. In many cases, the Sydney brown trapdoor spider might be confused with another common spider in Australia - the Sydney funnel-web spider, which is in fact one of the most venomous spiders in the country.

Trapdoor spiders are timid and easily frightened. They are generally harmless. On very rare occasions, if startled, they may bite you. Considering their fairly large fangs, the bite can cause some minor pain and local swelling. Other than that, there is nothing to worry about if you come face to face with this type of spider.

Since they are harmless to humans and pets, it is less likely for us to consider trapdoor spiders as pests. In fact, they play an important role in keeping the number of beetles, cockroaches, crickets, or other harmful spider species under control. Therefore, they shouldn't be uncontrollably exterminated. On the contrary, these spiders can be quite useful, so we should avoid extermination if possible.

Still, we realise that some people may be facing significant infestations, which require the advice and help of a professional exterminator. Not to mention that many Australians have difficulties determining what type of spiders have invaded their homes or gardens, nor can they figure out what attracts spiders to their homes.

Having trouble with spiders at home?

If you need assistance with protecting your home against spiders, then book our spider control service for any day of the week. The highly-skilled professional pest controllers will gladly lend a hand. They will attend your property on the agreed-upon day and time, inspect the premises and surrounding area, and proceed with the proper type of treatment for the specific infestation. In the end, the pest technicians will also give you a few tips and tricks on how to keep the spiders at bay and avoid any future problems.

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