Spiders scare the bejeezers out of me. Just how common and how big are spiders in Australia? — James, probably UK
Despite the fears (particularly among the English, it seems) of Australia being overrun with gigantic spiders, snakes and other such deadly creatures, they’re not actually that common. At least, not in plague proportions or anything.
In urban areas, snakes are pretty rare. You’d almost certainly have to go looking hard to find any, and if you’re foolish enough to stomping about in long grass with no foot or leg protection, then you might get into some trouble.
Spiders are less rare, but most of the really scary big ones (eg huntsman) are relatively harmless, at least physically. (I’m not going to argue that psychologically they might scare the crap out of you… they certainly have that affect on me.) The few dangerous spiders tend to be the smaller ones such as the redback and the Sydney funnelweb.
A survey by the ABS showed a mere 1.2% of the population noted bite or sting in the previous four weeks. The figures included bites from snakes, spiders, dogs, but not insects such as mosquitos. It doesn’t comment on whether bites from small children or other humans were included.
Under 15% of those bitten resulted in poisoning.
While it always pays to be aware of your surroundings, and not to place yourself in danger of bites from snakes or spiders or man-eating tigers, none of them are common, and shouldn’t hold you back having a good time visiting. And carry a big stick if it makes you feel safer.
PS. Spiders scare the bejeezers out of me too.