Thursday, 26 June 2008

Giant Tasmanian Cave Spider - Hickmania troglodytes

  • Order: Araneae
  • Family: Austrochilidae
  • Subfamily: Hickmaniinae
  • Species: Hickmania troglodytes (Higgins & Petterd, 1883)

The Giant Tasmanian Cave Spider was first recorded in the limestone caves at Mole Creek in 1883. It is endemic to Tasmania but is widely distributed throughout the state. Despite it's common name it is not confined to caves. Any cool cavity large enough to support it's extensive web may be used. They have even been found under bridges and in large hollow logs. I have seen them in several places including Gunns Plains Cave and in a mine adit near Montezuma falls which is where the following photographs were taken.



The females body length can be up to 20mm and the males 13mm. However the leg span can be up to 180mm. They build a large horizontal sheet like web on the roof of the cave or cavity. One web was recorded to be 122 cm long by 61cm wide. The large pear shaped egg-sac is about 49mm long by 26mm wide. When in caves it is left undecorated as seen in my photo below. However if the spider is, for example, in a hollow log, it will cover the egg-sac in small particles of wood and debris. Spiderlings emerge from the sacs after 8-10 months. This spider is also noted for it's long lifespan, possibly lasting several decades.


Female with egg-sac
Reference:
  • Some Common Spiders of Tasmania - Tasmanian Museum & ArtGallery
  • Tasmanian Cave Spider (Fact Sheet) - Australian Museum


4 comments:

  1. What an interesting spider! To the uninitiated, it looks a bit like a Daddy Long-legs. Quite a different family, apparently. I was interested to learn about the lifespan of this spider.

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  2. Yeah - like the Daddy Long-legs you might see in a nightmare :-) We brushed past dozens on the roof of that mine adit. Quite disconcerting for an arachnophobe like myself. I'm fascinated by spiders but they still make me shudder.

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  3. LOL - you too! I have a small 'confession' on my blog about being an arachnophobe. I still have a bit of a problem with Sparassids invading my personal space but try very hard not to murder them these days. :-)

    Digital camera - the conqueror of phobias!!

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  4. My wife recently picked u a cardboard box which had been lying in the bush for some time. We both freaked out when we noticed, not one, but three of the biggest huntsmen I've ever seen crawling on her. I'm shuddering as I type. That's enough of the spider talk thank you very much :-)

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