The name Trapdoor spider covers several families and many different
species. Trapdoor spiders can be distinguished from the more dangerous
Funnel web spider by its brown or mottled markings. When in danger, a
Trapdoor spider will freeze or flee whereas a Funnel web will rear back
One of the most common is the Brush Footed Trapdoor spider which
has tufts of "tooth-ended" hairs on their feet which allow them to climb
smooth, vertical shafts. Brush Footed Trapdoor spiders are also known as
Bird Eating spiders. One was seen to eat a baby domestic chicken.
Trapdoor spiders construct burrows lined by their silk and closed
by a hinged door of silk, moss, and soil. There they lie in wait for passing
prey, usually an insect; when the prey touches silken threads radiating out
on the ground near the door, the spiders quickly open the door and seize it.
Closely related to Tarantulas, Trapdoor Spiders make up the family
Ctenizidae. They are generally small, are harmless to humans, and are found
in many warm climates. They also use their burrows for protection and as
nest sites, the female spinning her egg sac for about 300 eggs in the
Trapdoor spiders stay in the burrow with their mother for some time. One
group digs burrows in ground which is liable to flood. A turret built around
the entrance keeps out water and if the burrow is flooded, the spider clims
to a chamber built to the side to try and survive until the water recedes.
Another group makes whistling sounds by rubbing flattened pegs on the
pedipalp across spines at the base of the chelicerae. This whistling
probably attracts mates.
spiders are not particularly harmful to man however, like Tarantulas, the
tiny hairs on the legs of some species leave tiny red marks where the
"toothed" hairs on the spiders' feet have clung to the skin.
Mouse spiders are also a type of Trapdoor spider with huge
chelicerae and may measure up to 35mm in body length. The aggressive female
Mouse spider has large fangs and a high venom output and may harm humans.
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