Eastern Mouse Spider, Missulena bradleyi

The Eastern Mouse Spider (Missulena bradleyi) is a species of spider belonging to the Actinopodidae family. The spider is native to the east coast of Australia.

The common name of the mouse spider comes from the mistaken belief that this spider excavates a deep mouse-like burrow. The females are black overall and are larger in size than the males. The males are black with a bluish-white colored patch on the front of their abdomen.

Mouse spiders vary from 10 to 35 millimeters long and all have distinctively bulbous head and jaw regions. They are frequently confused with funnel-web spiders. While bites from a mouse spider aren’t common, a few have caused serious effects in humans, with symptoms that are similar to funnel-web spider envenomation. Fortunately, mouse spiders aren’t normally abundant in heavily populated urban areas.

Like trapdoor spiders, the mouse spider lives in burrows built in the ground, often in the banks of rivers, creeks, and other waterways, but is also found in suburban gardens. The burrows are constructed with double or single trapdoors and the entrance is oval shaped. The females have a tendency to stay in or near their burrows throughout their lives. The males can be found wandering during early winter, particularly after rain.

Insects are the key prey of mouse spiders but their diet could possibly include small vertebrates and other spiders.

The males reach sexual maturity at about four years of age. They leave their burrows during the breeding season to find a mate. They go looking for a female during the day and the act of mating normally occurs in the females burrow.

Image Caption: Female Mouse Spider, Missulena bradleyi. Credit: Fir0002/Wikipedia (CC BY-NC 3.0)