The common Australian black house spider makes a great spider the many reasons. The starters, they are very common and found in most areas of Australia. All you really need is a house at some point it will become inhabited by the spiders. They are a fairly small, robust be built spider that you will often find in the garden and rough-barked trees. Inside they will commonly make the Web is in the corners of rooms or rafters.
They are very aware that night light sources are prey attractors and outside lights are typically surrounded by the webs.
The females grow to almost 2 cm in body size with males typically half the size. Their legs and bodies are typically from dark brown to black in colour with the abdomen grey and covered in dense layering of fine velvety hair.
Unlike the orb-weaver that makes a very structured Web or the daddy longlegs or common brown Peabody spiders of Australia could make a very thin unstructured Web, the black house spider makes a very messy web that will typically expand out in the triangle from the corner of a room. This triangle shape is not indicative of their natural web building shape – it is merely the shape as they build up evenly from the point of safety, in this case, the room corner.
Whereas spiders such as all Weavers and the Australian redback rely on the stickiness and strength of their Web to ensnare the victims, the Australian black house spider relies on its prey to become momentarily entangled in its messy web alerting the spider will quickly rush out and grasp its prey. Rarely do they spend time wrapping up their prey with their spinnerets like an all weaver or a Peabody spider. They brutally grab their prey, injected with venom then drag it unceremoniously back down the safety funnel. They can quickly determine how big the insect is that has become ensnared and will retreat if the insect is too big.
This lack of web stickiness and tendency to rush out a potential prey is well known to Australian black house spider predators such as parasitic wasps and Whitetail spiders. Both of these will enter the web of the black house spider and shake it imitating an ensnared prey on when the black house spider rushes out thinking it has a new victim they find themselves instead the victim.
Because they are very common they are one of the few spiders that pet spider enthusiasts may be able to successfully breed.
The female are the main Web builders and they build a final through their Web to the safety point. Typically the male will roam into her web and tug at the corners in order to test whether she is receptive to him as a mate as opposed to as meal. Should reconsider her a risk worth taking who approach and inseminate her in a brief coupling when he presses his pulps against hers. If he succeeds in mating with the female is unlikely she will eat him and he will remain in her web for a few days, hunting with her and often mating several more times.
The female’s body will swell as the eggs go on her body when she is ready jewel laden and construct an egg sac to keep them safe, the egg sac will be fastened to the Web inside her safety funnel. When the young spiders hatch out they will typically fan out across the web but remain in it some time. The juvenile spiderlings will prey on the very tiny insects to get caught in their mother’s messy web, insects so small that mother may not even notice them.
Keeping Black House Spiders as Pets
They make excellent first-time spider pets. They are readily available, they don’t require large prey so easy to feed. They are poisonous but the poison is mild and unlikely to cause serious repercussions. Whilst they are extremely aggressive and they believe they have prey in their Web the tenant when it comes to obviously larger animals thus making it easy to their enclosure to be cleaned without too much risk of a surprise attack on their owner.
They can be happily kept in a large jar or a small fish tank.