Australian Redback Spiders Can Liquefy and Eat Snakes 50 Times Their Size

Australian Redback Spiders Can Liquefy and Eat Snakes 50 Times Their Size


By now we all know that Australia is full of frightening creatures. But one of the most terrifying of all might be the tiny redback spider, which can trap and eat snakes more than 50 times its size.

Larger spiders, like golden orbs, have been known to take down snakes, but what makes the redback cases so shocking is that they’re generally less than an inch long!

A snake was no match for a redback spider that caught it in its web in a Victorian shed, as seen in footage filmed by Vinifera resident Carmel Munro. She was walking through her shed when she saw “the real life David Attenborough story in front of my eyes.”

How does the spider manage this amazing feat? The secret is in its potent venom and extremely tangled web,  which is made of strong silk that it can squirt at prey like Spiderman, according to the Daily Mail
Calistemon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Once the animal or insect is trapped, the spider will wrap it with more silk and then bite into it several times, injecting toxic venom through its fangs. The venom liquefies the paralyzed prey’s insides, which the hungry redback then drinks!

Typically, they feed on small insects, but like some other kinds of spiders, they’re not picky about larger animals, including lizards and snakes. And several videos of the deadly showdowns have gone viral.

When it comes to redback spiders, females are the ones to look out for. Known for the distinctive red stripe on their backs, they are larger than males — and hungrier, too. Female redbacks target and trap prey, while the males sit off to the side waiting for leftovers and do their best to avoid being eaten.

That’s right. Redback females often engage in sexual cannibalism.
The underside of a redback spider. Image: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (GFDL 1.2)

Though they don’t target humans, redback spider bites often hang out in people’s homes and bites are common. Symptoms include sweating, swelling, and goosebumps at the site of the wound, as well as aching limbs. Due to the development of antivenom, bites are rarely fatal to people.