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Mouse spider
Eastern Mouse Spider, Missulena bradleyi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Mygalomorphae
Family: Actinopodidae
Genus: Missulena
Walckenaer, 1805

See text

11 species

Mouse spiders are spiders of the genus Missulena, in the mygalomorph family Actinopodidae. There are 11 known species in this genus, all but one of which are indigenous to Australia. One species, M. tussulena, is found in Chile. The name derives from an old belief, now known to be false, that the spiders dig deep burrows similar to those of mice.

There is evidence that the bite of a mouse spider is potentially as serious as that of an Australasian funnel-web spider; however recorded envenomings by this spider are rare. Funnel-web antivenom has been found to be an effective treatment for serious bites.



Mouse spiders are medium-to-large specimens, which range in length from 1 cm to 3 cm. Their carapace is glossy, and they have high, broad heads, with eyes spread out across the front of the head. They have short spinnerets, located in the rear of the abdomen. Mouse spiders exhibit sexual dimorphism, with female spiders being all black; and male spiders having species-specific coloration. The male Eastern mouse spider (M. bradleyi) have a bluish patch, and the male Red-headed mouse spider (M. occatoria) are brownish or blue-black in color, with bright red-tinged jaws.

Mouse spiders prey mainly on insects, though they may consume other small animals as opportunity presents. The primary predators of the mouse spider include wasps, bandicoots, centipedes, and scorpions.

Habitat & range

The mouse spiders range throughout Australia, with different species being found in different states there. One species is found in Chile, and the nearest related genera of Missulena also occur in South America. This is because they are part of the Gondwanan fauna. Similar to trapdoor spiders, the mouse spider lives in burrows covered with trapdoors, which can extend to nearly 30 cm (1 foot) in depth. Female mouse spiders generally remain in their burrows; the males will wander in search of mates.

Medical significance

The bites of several species of mouse spider in Australia have been found to produce serious symptoms, similar to the Australasian funnel-web spider. However, serious envenomings are relatively rare; most mouse spider bites documented in the medical literature did not require use of antivenom, or involve serious symptoms. The venom of the Eastern mouse spider (M. bradleyi) was found to have toxins similar to the robustotoxin found in funnel-web venom; and funnel-web antivenom has been found to be effective in treating severe mouse spider bites. Unlike the funnel-web, however, the mouse spider is far less aggressive towards humans, and may often give "dry" bites.


Missulena bradleyi
  • Missulena bradleyi Rainbow, 1914 (New South Wales)
  • Missulena dipsaca Faulder, 1995 (Australia)
  • Missulena granulosa (O. P-Cambridge, 1869) (Western Australia)
  • Missulena hoggi Womersley, 1943 (Western Australia)
  • Missulena insignis (O. P.-Cambridge, 1877) (Australia)
  • Missulena occatoria Walckenaer, 1805 (Southern Australia)
  • Missulena pruinosa Levitt-Gregg, 1966 (Western Australia, Northern Territory)
  • Missulena reflexa Rainbow & Pulleine, 1918 (South Australia)
  • Missulena rutraspina Faulder, 1995 (Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria)
  • Missulena torbayensis Main, 1996 (Western Australia)
  • Missulena tussulena Goloboff, 1994 (Chile)

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Classis: Arachnida
Ordo: Araneae
Subordo: Opisthothelae
Infraordo: Mygalomorphae
Superfamilia: Migoidea
Familia: Actinopodidae
Genus: Missulena
Species: M. bradleyi - M. dipsaca - M. granulosa - M. hoggi - M. insignis - M. occatoria - M. pruinosa - M. reflexa - M. rutraspina - M. torbayensis - M. tussulena


Missulena Walckenaer, 1805


Vernacular names

English: Mouse Spider
中文: 鼠蜘


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