Purple Liza The Funnel Web Spider And Sparkle

We have a huge but harmless spider in Australia called a Huntsman. One summer when my daughter was a toddler, a large Huntsman took up residence in the cornice in our living room. We named her, "Sparkle."  She coexisted with us happily in the house until one day she was gone. The next summer, another Huntsman arrived.  My daughter noticed that Sparkle was back and was very excited.  Every year Sparkle would come and go and I never had the heart to tell her that they were all different spiders, or that our original guest was probably deceased along with most of the others.

Last summer, after some rain, another spider came to visit us in the carport one night. My daughter, then eight, looked down at the ground where I was stepping out of the car. She said, "Sparkle looks really angry." I looked down to see the silhouette of a huge Funnel Web Spider in striking pose, right near my ankle.  I pulled my leg back into the car and the spider remained in attack posture, waiting.  It seemed the ugliest creature I had ever seen.

Fortunately, I hardly ever clean stuff out of my car.  There was a juice glass on the front seat from that morning's rush. I thanked my daughter for saving my life, did my best to stop shaking, and put a juice glass over the deadly spider. Then slid some cardboard underneath and it was caught. 

It's usually the responsible thing to do, to capture spiders so that their venom can be used to treat spider bites.

I had to drive this creature on the freeway to the Reptile Park, it's new home. I don't think I have ever been so scared.  Its almost impossible to keep your eyes on the road when there is a Funnel Web in your car.

When we got there, the spider handler took her out of the glass and put her in a little tray on the front desk.  With the danger gone, the spider actually looked quite beautiful.  It's abdomen had soft, lavender coloured fur and it's black legs were elegant and shiny.  The spider handler said that when a Funnel Web has a round abdomen, it's a female.  She described the spider as, "voluptuous".  My daughter named her, "Purple Liza", after one of her toys.  We are going up to see Purple Liza these school holidays.
iguanachips iguanachips
41-45, F
27 Responses Sep 24, 2011

I would have burned the house down.

WOW! It's a good thing your daughter was there.

I'm itchy and creeped out... spiders that are biters gimme the heebee geebees...

Then in was very kind of you to read a story with a title like that. Thanks xx

Hello, I love your stories !

Thanks, mate :o)

Super cute story..and super brave you! Its cool how when u look closely at things that are normally overlooked u see beauty that u didn't realize existed. Have u ever really looked closely at a dandilion..its basically a weed...but when u really study it u find that there is quite a lot more to it than meets the eye.

de ja vu :o) Thanks, smiley !

Super cute story..and super brave you! Its cool how when u look closely at things that are normally overlooked u see beauty that u didn't realize existed. Have u ever really looked closely at a dandilion..its basically a weed...but when u really study it u find that there is quite a lot more to it than meets the eye.

You should really write some more stories because you write well and with natural warmth and humour.<br />
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How old was your daughter when she saw "angry sparkle"? I love the way body language is essentially universally understandable across species.

She was seven. She's nine now and asked me to convey a message. It's on your whiteboard.

it was in the gift - tell her thank-you and i'm delighted she likes it, i rather like it myself

Okay! (hyperventilating) I'm not sleeping tonight!

I don,t mind Huntsman in the house,my wife is from Canada,been here for over twenty years,and still hates spiders,Huntsmen are not permitted in the house,once spotted must be removed.

They are welcome visitors, however,I can understand your wife's fears. :o)

For some reason I have this primal smash and destroy reaction to any spider I find indoors. They are beautiful acrobats outdoors on their webs though. :)

I know that feeling. I think it's instinctive. I suppose I have been around spiders long enough to be used to them. They really are pretty useful, and mostly harmless :o)

Huntsmans can live for two or more years! i hate spiders, i live in Australia as well and we have our house sprayed to keep them away ^_^

Maybe Sparkle did come back !

yay! i've heard some can live for 10-15 but after reading two i'm not so sure : )

It's not that bad. The only aggressive spider is nocturnal. We love to brag about how scary our creatures are, just to tease those from other countries. New Zealanders are especially susceptible as they have no snakes at all. I was more frightened of a cat I met it Florence than I have been of any Australian native. I hope you overcome your fear and give your auntie and cousin a visit.

OMG I absolutely Hate hate hate spiders (and I am English!) I really don't know WHY I read this story and I am thouroughly creeped out now, I have an auntie and a cousin who live "down under" and have been invited so many times to go and stay, the spiders and insects that "fight back" put me off though.

Wow thats a lovely story, gives you more of an insight when you hear somones story rather than just stare at their comments :P

Thanks, Small Peter. I'm going to see if you have any stories.

awww, that's so sweet.<br />
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and very glad you are alright O_O!

Thanks. I'm glad my little iguana was so quick off the mark.

What gives me the creeps about your story even more is that funnel web spiders will jump. I admire your courage in capturing that one. My neighbour was telling me he found 42 funnel webs whilst clearing his block to build .That was before they had the program to milk them.

Ah, memories. My Dad used to pour petrol down their holes. (It's amazing he could hold them down ! )

alice,was eating her curds and whey,and a huntsman,came and sat beside her

I hope she shared :o)

Great story, beautifully told, iguanachips.

Thanks, Amber. It was an exciting adventure. :o)

i didnt understand it was a poisonous spider until you explained that. when you said that it is poisonous my heart jumped. isnt it dangerous to live with them if they strike out when they get angry? its brave and nice of you to embrace creatures that are so.

HELL NO, I would have killed the funnel web for sure! And the huntsmans - I hate them all. Beats me why God made some creatures so damn hideous and creepy! Eight eyes, eight legs and fur?! Na-ah, no freaking way.<br />
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They are scary, I guess, but useful. Huntsman spiders eat cockroaches. I am marginally more creeped out by cockroaches, so I learn to live with spiders. Thanks for the feedback, Orckiss :o)

You are very young. I used to feel the same way about spiders until I lived in a beach house and the spiders were keeping so many of the other bugs under control. I then warned the kids, "Kill a spider and die" I was so glad to move away from the water. I loved the idea of living so close to the beach, but the reality was not so great. Ohhhh, the bugs.

Bless you for discouraging your kids from killing spiders. We only have one aggressive spider here, and it's nocturnal. There is no reason to kill any of them. It's refreshing to hear of other children who were brought up to live and let live. :o)

Great anecdote :) But I might not sleep so well tonight...<br />
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I had no idea they needed the funnel webs for anti-venom, but that would explain why our entomologist personally introduced me to one he'd caught in a glass jar once (I thought he was just lonely).<br />
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I wonder if the wildlife rangers might be interested in collecting them on behalf of the Reptile Park...

I'm sure they do already. So do the local hospitals. There's apparently a real shortage due to climate change. Thanks for the comment, Bloss, and sorry about the spooks. :o)

W@W ... Thank you for the anti venine you hairy little monster! ... Let's hope it's in all our hospitals this summer ! Shake out those shoes first - Nice story Iguanachips, but why didn't you just eat it ? Lol ...

Iguanas are herbivores. Otherwise I'd have coated it in chocolate and downed it in one bite! :o)

Awesome story, and excellent example. I thought you were very brave and very considerate. My mother used to tell us, "They're more frightened of you than you are of them". We have happily co-existed with deadly spiders and snakes of many kinds and never once came to any harm. They have an important place in the environment.

what a lovely story! not the part where you were frightened but about the part with the huntsmans. i kept one for a couple of months in a container, fed it, cared for it & then let it go. I just kept it out of curiosity really. She was beautiful! She used to suck the water off her legs that i misted her & her tank with. It was really good of you to take the funnel web to the reptile park. I was there one day & a guy was giving an info speech on how they have to milk so many of the little buggers to get one anti venom. they so desperately need people to take them there so they can save lives! i never knew. you are brave i'll give you that! you & your daughter!<br />

The Huntsman I could have handled ... Funnel Web ... NO WAY would I have been able to drive it to the Reptile park! A very brave example for your daughter!

What a great couple of examples for your daughter - respect for life and respect for the hazard it can pose.<br />
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I suspect your daughter will grow without irrational fears of these creatures, but a healthy respect for them.<br />
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My mum similarly allowed huntsman and daddy-long-legs in the old laundry at the rear of our house. Any inside the house were captured and escorted "off the premises" to the back garden.