All spiders have eight legs.
Some spiders spin webs.
Some spiders do not spin webs.
Some spiders bite.
Spiders live almost everywhere.
Female spiders lay eggs.
There are more than 30 000 different kinds of spiders in the world. Most of them do not hurt humans. Spiders help people by eating harmful insects.
Spiders belong to the group of animals called arthropods. All arthropods have jointed legs and include crustaceans (crabs belong to this group) insects, which have six legs and arachnids, which have eight legs. Spiders belong to the arachnid group which also includes scorpions and ticks.
Spiders in Australia
There are more than 2000 different spiders in Australia. Only a few of them are dangerous: these include the red-back spider, the Sydney funnel-web spider and white-tailed spiders.
Other spiders such as the wolf spiders and the large bird-eating spider (right) look fierce but are not usually a danger to people. Some people keep bird-eating spiders as pets!
Habitat and distribution (where they are found)
Spiders live almost everywhere, even in the Arctic and on mountain tops. They live where they can find food. They live on plants, near swamps, underground, in caves and in deserts. One kind of spider spends most of its life under water. Some spiders live in our houses, in sheds or other buildings. Others live on the outside walls of buildings or in the corners of windows.
A spider's body is divided into two main parts, the head and the abdomen. All spiders have eight legs, which are attached to the abdomen. Spiders have claws on the end of their hairy legs which help them walk on a web and sense movement nearby. They have mouth parts called pedipalps. To eat prey, they suck the juices out of it but cannot chew it. Most spiders have eight eyes.
Sydney Funnel-web spider
All spiders spin silk. Some make webs with the silk to catch insects for food. Some kinds of spiders do not make webs. They catch food by jumping on it. All spiders have hollow fangs and most use them to inject poison into their prey when they capture it. Spiders eat insects but some spiders eat tadpoles, small frogs and fish, and mice. Spiders sometimes eat each other. Female redback spiders often eat the smaller, male redback spiders.
A female red-back spider in her web
How spiders breed
After mating with a male spider the female lays eggs. The spider wraps her eggs inside a sac made of silk. Some spiders hid the egg sac while others carry it with them. When the eggs hatch the baby spiders, called spiderlings, shed their skins as they grow.
The largest spider in the world is the Goliath Tarantula. Watch a video about it here.
A spider's relatives
Spiders are in the same group of animals with scorpions (left) and ticks.
Go here for information about some of Australia's dangerous spiders from Australian Museum online
If you use any information from this page acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, Shirley &Thomas, Ron Spiders. [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au (2007)
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