Thursday, December 16, 2004

Our eight-legged friends

The Daddy Longlegs in our bathroom

As a continent, Australia is famous for it's assorted deadly creatures. Just yesterday on the news an Adelaide 18yr old being towed behind a speedboat on a rubber ring was killed by two Great White sharks. There are poisonous jellyfish, snakes, even the deadly blue-ringed octopus. And that's just in the sea - on land there are all kinds of things that can ruin your week - the most obvious being spiders.

In my flat, there's almost always a Daddy Long Legs hanging from the bathroom ceiling (why are spiders attracted to bathrooms?). It's body is about the size of a peanut, but the legs stretch as wide as your palm. There's an urban myth that these are utterly deadly, but have too small fangs to pucture human skin. Apparently (thanks to Google) this isn't true, although they do eat larger spiders. They look impressive though, far more 'spidery' than the weedy-looking things that pass for Daddy Long Legs in the UK.

There's also a resident spider in the living room. Being a man, I naturally have a favoured chair to sit and watch TV, read the paper or whatever. It's one thing that separates the sexes - women seem happy to sit anywhere, but men have their chair - and that's that. It just so happens my chair is next to the wall and the web of a Cupboard Spider - a relative of the feared Redback and Black Widow species. I Googled that one very quicky after spotting it. Thankfully for my TV viewing they are only mildly dangerous - "their bite can be very painful, with symptoms similar to those of Redback Spider bite (but without the dangerous effects). Cupboard spider bites have also been implicated in cases of minor skin necrosis." But having watched it at length, it only ever emerges about an inch from it's burrow - so I should be alright. According to my flatmate we have a large Huntsman that visits now and again which he casually described as 'hand-sized'. Now that would disturb anyone's TV viewing...