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"an important tool for spider hygiene"
June 11, 2011 7:38 AM   Subscribe

They’re not aggressive, they’re just defensive, they only ever rear up if they feel threatened, they don’t go looking for trouble,” said Brett. grooming a funnel-web spider (via)
posted by bleary (79 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Are any of these links sans pictures? Just sayin'.....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:43 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


aaaw, I had a large spider in my bathroom one day who did that rear-up thing at me, and I broke out laughing at wee widdle thing trying to take on a gal wearing combat boots.
Captured and removed him from the house instead, bravery should get you some advantages in life I say.
posted by dabitch at 7:47 AM on June 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


Ah, well, OK, there you have it then. Yessir. Just dust that little guy with a paint brush.
posted by kbanas at 7:49 AM on June 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are any of these links sans pictures? Just sayin'.....

All have actual photos or videos. Don't click!

iconomy: I check funnel spider links for pics so you don't have to.
posted by iconomy at 7:50 AM on June 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


You wouldn’t think that Funnel-web spiders would ever make use of a paintbrush, but they’re an important tool for spider hygiene.

What do poor, primitive, undomesticated Funnel-web spiders use in the wild? Reminds me of a joke. A bear and a rabbit were side by side in the woods, taking a dump.

"Ug," said the bear. "Poo always sticks to my fur."

"Ooh," said the rabbit. "I never have that problem. Poo never sticks to me at all."

So the bear used the rabbit to wipe his ass.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:53 AM on June 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


BRUSH MEEeeeeeeee!
posted by orme at 7:59 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


[fixed link, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 8:02 AM on June 11, 2011


grooming a funnel-web spider

Australia's stupidest paedophiles
posted by Not Supplied at 8:09 AM on June 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


What is it about spiders? Seriously.
posted by Summer at 8:09 AM on June 11, 2011


What is it about spiders? Seriously.

They're awesome. You're welcome.
posted by Gator at 8:18 AM on June 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


How Australians raise children without losing their minds with worry?
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:20 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're awesome. You're welcome

Awe: 'power to inspire fear or reverence.'

Yep.
posted by Summer at 8:27 AM on June 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I mean, I could be wrong, but I live in Michigan, and we don't have to fret about all that much.

But, to me, Australia seems like one gigantic death trap. Between the sharks and the spiders and the whatever the hell else, it just strikes me as a place where I would last about 45 seconds.
posted by kbanas at 8:28 AM on June 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Awe: 'power to inspire fear or reverence.'

They're terrific!
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:29 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not to detract from the important funnel-web spider discussion, but I never understood that joke. If poo DOESN'T stick to the rabbit's fur, why would the bear use it to wipe his ass? I would think the bear would want to use something more poop-absorbant that his own fur, if you know what I mean.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:31 AM on June 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Between the sharks and the spiders and the whatever the hell else, it just strikes me as a place where I would last about 45 seconds.

I thought the same thing about Japan when I lived there. Poisonous caterpillars that drop down from trees to cause havoc? Giant, armoured centipedes with poisonous skin and sharp fangs that can kill a small child? Swarms of giant, killer wasps that shoot venom in your eyes before buzzing around your head to deliver a killer sting at the nape of your neck? Plus giant flying cockroaches.

Ah, so nice to be back in Canada. Oops, watch out, there's a black bear on the loose in my suburban neighbourhood. Be careful when hiking, as cougars will sometimes drag off unsuspecting children. And Grizzly bears, murderous moose, the occasional rabid raccoon. All manageable, right?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:34 AM on June 11, 2011


If poo DOESN'T stick to the rabbit's fur, why would the bear use it to wipe his ass?

The rabbit is hopelessly naive in believing that shit won't stick to it's fur, and the bear wants to crush it's illusions, like the foolish dreams of all optimists are crushed. And get the softest ever arse wipe.
posted by Not Supplied at 8:35 AM on June 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


If poo DOESN'T stick to the rabbit's fur, why would the bear use it to wipe his ass?

Because wiping your ass with spiders is insane!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:36 AM on June 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


Speaking as one who works on this exact group, genera Atrax and Hadronyche - whilst deserving of all your respect - were the nicest spiders I ever worked with.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 8:37 AM on June 11, 2011 [6 favorites]



But, to me, Australia seems like one gigantic death trap. Between the sharks and the spiders and the whatever the hell else, it just strikes me as a place where I would last about 45 seconds.


Which is not to disparage your homeland, anybody, because it looks absolutely beautiful - and cities like Sydney look just terrific - and I've met several Australians in my day and they've all been wonderfully warm and fantastic.

So, go Australia!
posted by kbanas at 8:39 AM on June 11, 2011


Ah, so nice to be back in Canada. Oops, watch out, there's a black bear on the loose in my suburban neighbourhood. Be careful when hiking, as cougars will sometimes drag off unsuspecting children. And Grizzly bears, murderous moose, the occasional rabid raccoon. All manageable, right?

Reminds me of a conversation with a South African discussing native animals, which went something like:

"We've got great animals like lions and tigers and elephants and all you've got is badgers and squirrels and hedgehogs."

Yes, that's the way we like it.
posted by Summer at 8:41 AM on June 11, 2011


But, to me, Australia seems like one gigantic death trap. Between the sharks and the spiders and the whatever the hell else

And dropbears. Don't forget the dropbears.
posted by mendel at 8:59 AM on June 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


My dad did a number of projects for his company in Australia...I recall him spending a large chunk of time in and around Alice Springs (which, according to Google Maps, is in the middle of absolutely nowhere). He like to tell us about the time he worked up on the north coast outside Darwin a ways...I don't remember exactly where. Apparently, while on the work site, you were never supposed to use the same path between buildings and installations as the salties would occasionally mark human walking patterns and lie in wait for ambush. Don't know if that was a story made up to scare visitors, since only a few people are killed each year by the crocs...but the thought of a 15-foot reptile waiting to eat me would be enough to make me cautious.

Did you know there's a town near Darwin called Humpty Doo?
posted by Existential Dread at 9:11 AM on June 11, 2011


Oh! The salties!

Yes, can't leave out them.

What is it Hicks said in Aliens? Something something only way to be sure.
posted by kbanas at 9:12 AM on June 11, 2011


Reminds me of a conversation with a South African discussing native animals, which went something like: "We've got great animals like lions and tigers and elephants and all you've got is badgers and squirrels and hedgehogs."

South Africa has tigers? Must be quite stealthy.
posted by hal9k at 9:14 AM on June 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like living in Florida is training wheels for eventually visiting Australia and/or Africa.
posted by Gator at 9:16 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey man, squirrels are dangerous.

And Gator, I think Australians are a lot tougher than the retirees you're used to feeding on in Florida. Plus you'll have to compete with all the other predators on those other continents.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:19 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


such a tiring thread, i need a nice refreshing nap
posted by evil_esto at 9:22 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking as one who works on this exact group, genera Atrax and Hadronyche - whilst deserving of all your respect - were the nicest spiders I ever worked with.

You use that word--respect--like it's something that must be earned by threatening to inject deadly venom into a person. That spider sounds like a total dick, frankly.

Respect this, you thorax-lacking wall-humper!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eight-legged freaks!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:33 AM on June 11, 2011


South Africa has tigers? Must be quite stealthy

OK, something like that. Substitute your own fierce creatures.
posted by Summer at 9:44 AM on June 11, 2011


Which is not to disparage your homeland, anybody, because it looks absolutely beautiful - and cities like Sydney look just terrific - and I've met several Australians in my day and they've all been wonderfully warm and fantastic.

Sure, because you meet the ones who haven't been eaten.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:46 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The other day I read that funnel-web spiders can actually bite through shoes. The author seemed to be serious, so I'd be a bit cautious about trying the whole combat-boot thing.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:47 AM on June 11, 2011


murderous moose, the occasional rabid raccoon.

When I was working in Canada, I left a NYC girlfriend at my remote house, while I was at the office. I get a panicked call, "A racoon is trying to get in the house and attack me!"

Silly NYC girl, right? I come back home later in the day, and all the doors to the house are covered in splashes of hair and blood, where this thing had thrown itself at the doors violently and repeatedly. And the trail of blood ended where it climbed up a porch support onto the roof, and was presumably waiting to jump down on someone.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:49 AM on June 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


If poo DOESN'T stick to the rabbit's fur, why would the bear use it to wipe his ass?

---The rabbit is hopelessly naive in believing that shit won't stick to it's fur, and the bear wants to crush it's illusions, like the foolish dreams of all optimists are crushed. And get the softest ever arse wipe.


In my experience, the best and most poop absorbent thing, ever, is a plate of beans.
posted by Artichoke Dance Off!! at 9:54 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my experience, the best and most poop absorbent thing, ever, is a plate of beans.

Now I've got shitty beans all over my lino thanks a lot.
posted by Not Supplied at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


they’re just defensive, they only ever rear up if they feel threatened

Ah yes, the old I feel threatened because I walked into your house and you are on the other side of the room innocently working on your laptop so I will run at you full speed with my fangs out with the intention to killing you defensive gambit
posted by eddydamascene at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


The entire time I was watching that video my inside voice was saying 'ohhhh nooooo! nooooo! You're going to smooooosh him! Nooooo!'

Luckily the fuzzy li'l guy makes it out all right.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:36 AM on June 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not to detract from the important funnel-web spider discussion, but I never understood that joke. If poo DOESN'T stick to the rabbit's fur, why would the bear use it to wipe his ass? I would think the bear would want to use something more poop-absorbant that his own fur, if you know what I mean.

I think some of the confusion comes from the wording of the joke. As it was told in this thread, it doesn't make much sense. The version I heard:

A rabbit and a bear were both going to the bathroom in the woods. The bear looks at the rabbit and says, "Do you have a problem with shit sticking to your fur?" The rabbit says no, so the bear picks him up and wipes his ass with him.

The humor is in the ambiguity of "do you have a problem with", a phrase not present in the version of the joke that exists earlier in this thread.
posted by komara at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


I grew up in Canberra, and remember as a kid being shitscared of going to visit family in Sydney. Funnel-webs. Blue ringed octopi. Bluebottles. Not that I ever saw any except of course the very latter. Redbacks aren't uncommon in Canberra, but they're not super aggressive. Kids catch them in takeaway containers or the like sometimes.

You'll rarely see anything terribly dangerous in Melbourne or Brisbane. Bigger bugs and more snakes in Brissie due to it being tropical, but safe as houses really. Perhaps (well, obviously) it's more dangerous out in the bush, depending on where you go, but I think the realistic level of danger presented by Aussie fauna is a bit overstated. That said as someone who basically considers any city smaller than Canberra "the bush" my opinion on the matter is probably a bit skewed.

tldr: Avoid Sydney.
posted by chmmr at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2011


I'll never understand the spider panic. Is the average spider more or less likely to hurt you than the average dog? I'd wager less.

Spiders are awesome.
posted by eugenen at 10:53 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, but the thing I was most scared of in Sydney was this: HIV-infected needles left upturned in the sand on beaches. This was at the peak of the late-80's AIDS freakout. Mum had seen a 60 Minutes report "that no parent can afford to miss." Sat us kids down afterwards, gave us what I remember to be a slightly hysterical warning to be on the lookout for sharps when we go to Cronulla beach the next day. I swear, every time my toe brushed a slightly pointy shell in the water I was sure I'd just contracted AIDS from a junkie's needle. (With apology for derail.)
posted by chmmr at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2011


Here are words that no one has ever said before. "Please saw my legs off." "Hand me that piano." Here's one you never hear: "Do what you want to the girl, but leave me alone!" -George Carlin

Add to that: Let me help you groom that funnel-web spider.
posted by Splunge at 11:03 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]




I'd love to get myself some super-sensitive microphones and hear what kind of noises that little fella is making while being, er, groomed...
posted by mykescipark at 11:16 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


7 out of 10 on the Australia test. I'm only partially dead.
posted by Splunge at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2011


That video is made of pure squick to me.
posted by rhizome at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2011


rhizome: "That video is made of pure squick to me"

It gave me warm fuzzies.
posted by bleary at 11:49 AM on June 11, 2011


It gave me poikilothermic fuzzies.
posted by hattifattener at 12:34 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spiders don't bother me that much. In the tropics I found an enormous scorpion in my shoe that I thankfully emptied before shoving my foot into it. When it hit the floor, it sounded like bones against the wood floor, and then it started rattling towards me, stinger raised and swaying, little claws opened for business.

Being a guy who likes to leave violence as a last resort, I tried to shoo it out the door with a piece of paper, but it grabbed to the end. When I tried to pick the paper up, it would let go and charge my foot. It's truly the first time since I became an adult that I was afraid of an insect. I began to doubt my ability to escape the encounter unscathed.

After ten minutes of work, I managed to get it out the door and off my porch, but it dropped down to the grass and started heading towards my landlord's dog, so I had to squish it.
posted by notion at 12:57 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why are there so many dangerous insects and snakes in Australia? Is there an evolutionary reason for this or is it just chance?
posted by geoff. at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2011


The entire time I was watching that video my inside voice was saying 'ohhhh nooooo! nooooo! You're going to smooooosh him! Nooooo!'

The whole video looked like some weird fetish thing: people who get off on holding down and stroking/brushing spiders. Something about the clinical setting, the latex of the rubber band, the big pink fingers. Oh well, time to go back and watch the neighbors...
posted by ennui.bz at 1:20 PM on June 11, 2011


Hmmmm.... I personally never used that method of getting mites off my funnel web spiders (oh how I miss my first pet funnel web, Shakira... who turned out to be a male at the end of the day). I tended just to put two freshly killed meal worms in with a spider: one for the spider to eat, and one to attract the mites. The mites would all move to the meal worm over the next 24 hours and then you just take the meal worm out of the spider's box. I knew another researcher who would do the same thing with his spiders (tarantulas) using dead pinkies (baby mice). Also, in my experience, most mites live in the fovea. The fovea is the depression on top of the cephalothorax (it is the outward sign of an internal muscle attachment point) and the only way I ever managed to get mites out of that was to drop a fair amount of ethanol onto the area (to get the mites to loosen their grip), and then to remove the mites with a paintbrush dipped in ethanol - this is nothing I would attempt on a live spider either - it'd hurt them.

Incidentally, Taronga Zoo does a good program on overcoming your fear of spiders that is supposed to be pretty good!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 1:47 PM on June 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why does Australia have so many poisonous creatures? Simple. We are a chosen nation, a people peculiar unto Him; and He tests us to make us worthy of His love. His love, that is, for venomous creatures. This is why we have, e.g., funnelweb spiders; a species whose venom is only poisonous to primates despite the fact that there are no primates native to Australia. It is clearly Divine dispensation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:55 PM on June 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Did you know there's a town near Darwin called Humpty Doo?
posted by Existential Dread at 12:11 PM on June 11


I travel the Arnhem Highway for business, at times, which connects Darwin with the Kakadu National Forest, taking you right past Humpty Doo. Much like you, I found the whimsy in knowing that a place called Humpty Doo exists, and thought it might be fun to take a taxi from Darwin out to the Humpty Doo Hotel (hotel = pub) for a few beers during my stay.

I was riding to Darwin with my client, a long-time resident of Darwin, and a typical Aussie who talked about the dangers of things like bluebottles and funnel webs with the same sort of joking demeanor as his warnings about the dropbears. I mentioned my desire to go have a few beers at the Hotel, and his demeanor changed instantly. "You DON'T want to do that. It is NOT a pub for tourists," he said, before launching into a ten minute riff on bogans, the aggressive local indigenous, and the near-constant brawling which presumably occurs at the Hotel on a nightly basis.

So, I think the takeaway was that bogans are more dangerous than funnel webs, though we all still agree that crocs (it's never "a croc," by the way - it's "a four meter croc," or a "four and a half meter croc," or "that croc had to be over five meters." Size matters, I suppose) are nothing to be trifled with.

Never did have that beer in Humpty Doo.
posted by GamblingBlues at 1:59 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


God created Arrakis Australia spiders to train the faithful...
posted by ninazer0 at 3:57 PM on June 11, 2011


Why are there so many dangerous insects and snakes in Australia? Is there an evolutionary reason for this or is it just chance?

Co-evolutionary changes in resistance between snake and prey. [pdf]
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:58 PM on June 11, 2011


Funnel web spiders are soooo Sydney
posted by the noob at 4:17 PM on June 11, 2011


And in other news, this little beauty was captured during the week.
posted by the noob at 4:20 PM on June 11, 2011


That is a well-groomed funnel-web spider.
posted by Nomyte at 4:34 PM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Only on metafilter would a spider-thread turn to quizzes on what will kill you in Australia, and then a Roy Orbinson wrapped in clingfilm site. Well played, thread.
posted by dabitch at 5:27 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you know there's a town near Darwin called Humpty Doo?

Meh.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:35 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The bear and rabbit joke flows much better with the last line:

"... so the bear wiped his ass with the rabbit"
posted by anthill at 6:18 PM on June 11, 2011


"Some of the sheep."
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:10 PM on June 11, 2011


the noob: "Funnel web spiders are soooo Sydney"

Pffft. I knew spiders before they used funnels. They used simple trap doors back then. But you wouldn't understand. It's an arachnathing.
posted by Splunge at 7:42 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some Australians still like to think of themselves as a cross between Crocodile Dundee and Don Bradman but in reality it's the most relentlessly suburban population on earth. If visitors are too busy looking out for salt water crocodiles and funnel web spiders in the middle of George Street they're much more likely to be mown down by an amber gambling yummie mummy busy texting her naturopath in her massive 4 x 4 on the way to pick up Savannah, Venice and Stormy from Kindyworld.
posted by joannemullen at 8:03 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I mean, I could be wrong, but I live in Michigan, and we don't have to fret about all that much.

Except winter.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:14 PM on June 11, 2011


You want danger in Michigan? I'll give you danger in Michigan. I lived in Redford Township for a while. In the winter if you got too drunk and decided to walk into town, town being Detroit around Five Mile and Telegraph road...

Well you might walk into the woods at the wrong part and find yourself up to your knees in a half frozen Rouge River. And if you didn't fall down right there and freeze to death, you had to find your way home and get yelled at by your wife, who you married at the age of 18.

Oooooh! Scary isn't it children?
posted by Splunge at 10:45 PM on June 11, 2011


But, to me, Australia seems like one gigantic death trap. Between the sharks and the spiders and the whatever the hell else

Hugh Jackman?
posted by casarkos at 11:08 PM on June 11, 2011


But, to me, Australia seems like one gigantic death trap. Between the sharks and the spiders and the whatever the hell else

Angeroos.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:25 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Biosphere be damned, where's the species-targeted virus to wipe out the creepy little deadly jerks?
posted by oxford blue at 1:41 AM on June 12, 2011


The spiders I don't cotton to are the surprise! spiders, that just happen to be hanging right at eye level from a strand of silk attached to the ceiling. Right in my path. Subtle, spider. Or the bastards that drop on my laptop from the ceiling. Instant fear response until it's out of sight.

Spiders I can see coming? They're cool. I think the fear of pictures of spiders on the internet is sort of silly, but I assume is meant that way.
posted by cj_ at 8:24 AM on June 12, 2011


That video is terrifying. And I'm not particularly afraid of spiders.

The most remarkable thing to me is that they don't reach sexual maturity until four (males) or five (females) years of age. That seems incredibly old for a bug of any sort. What's their life expectancy?
posted by rtha at 8:53 AM on June 12, 2011


Thought I'd be clever and pull that out wikipedia. Not a single one of the subtypes has life expectancy listed. Maybe they don't die.
posted by cj_ at 9:24 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now there's a thought that'll fester.
posted by oxford blue at 9:40 AM on June 12, 2011


That video is terrifying. And I'm not particularly afraid of spiders.

I'm afraid of them, but admire them from far off. e.g. the video made me go "awwwww" and "don't squish it!" and frightened me at the same time. when I encounter them in the wild, I try to be brave and shoo them out of the way instead of freaking the f out and killing them. I remember seeing a special spider grabber device that could grab them for you from far off so you can move them elsewhere safely. tempting. though I did read somewhere that if you move the house ones outside they die, since the outdoors isn't their habitat. I don't know if this true.

I like the translation by Robert Hass of a senryu by Issa.


Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house
casually.

posted by bleary at 9:56 AM on June 12, 2011


These, on the other hand, freak me out and all I can think is die die die. Even though they are beneficial.


House centipedes feed on small insects, insect larvae, and on spiders. Thus they are beneficial, though most homeowners take a different point-of-view and consider them a nuisance. Technically, the house centipede could bite, but it is considered harmless to people.


thought I guess killing the spiders isn't beneficial. spiders are beneficial, aren't they?
posted by bleary at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2011


Why are there so many dangerous insects and snakes in Australia?

As a penal colony, a lot of the more poisonous and dangerous animals end up there.
posted by ryanrs at 11:58 AM on June 12, 2011


But, to me, Australia seems like one gigantic death trap. Between the sharks and the spiders and the whatever the hell else

How about the world's largest feral camel population? Probably not deadly, though, unless you are some form of desert grass.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:02 AM on June 14, 2011


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