Red-headed Mouse Spider
S3: Male, dorsal
Ellura
Red-headed Mouse Spider
S3: Male, profile
 
    
Red-headed Mouse Spider (Missulena occatoria)Class: Animals (Animalia) - Jointed Legs (Arthropoda) - Spiders, Scorpions, Mites & Ticks (Arachnida)
Order: Spiders (Araneae)
Family: Mouse Spider (:Mygalomorph Actinopodidae)
Species: Red-headed Mouse Spider (Missulena occatoria)
This Photo:     S2: Male, close up

General Species Information:
Found on Ellura (in the Murray Mallee, SA), and elsewhere
Only the much smaller males have the red head/carpace & chelicerae while the females primarily black, occasionally with red chelicerae. Seen in April, May, June & July. The chelicerae are huge, compared to the body size, making them look quite fearful.
We don't see them often but finally caught one yesterday, to measure it's vitals and then released. The male weighed 0.1gms, and only ~10mm long (head & body). The male palps have an obviously red papal bulb & long embolus. It has short spinnerets and hairy black legs. The carpace & cephalothorax are smooth/hairless, while the abdomen has short hairs & is blue; of all things. This genus has a very widely spread eye arrangment, unusual for a mygalomorph. 6 of the eyes are shaded by black, while 2 with none are difficult to see.

They are an "old world" (or primative) spider partially because their fangs point down. This is considered to be a less efficient killing machine. Modern day spiders were designed with hi-tech sideways pointed fangs, not needing to lift the head to kill it's prey.
Red headed mouse spiders don't use their venom very much (according to Qld Museum); thank fully as they are as toxic as it's cousin the Sydney Funnel Web. Funnel Web Spider anti-venom works as well. But it's best not to get bitten in the first place.
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Humans do get very emotional about spiders. With the Red-Back & Sydney Funnel Web given a special place in our culture (they are the most dangerous spiders in the world), but the Funnel web has only about 13 deaths recorded against it (ever). In fact, only 27 fatalities from all spiders in Australia (mainly children, sick & ederly). 138 shark fatalities. About 1 snake fatality a year. At least these animals were here first. Yet 10 people every year die in Australia from introduced European Honey Bees, and somehow people think of them in such a positive way?
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Copyright © 2006- Brett & Marie Smith. All Rights Reserved. Photographed 19-Apr-2006
This species is an Australian Native Species, not listed in the SA Murray Mallee Survey of 2010.