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Trapdoor spiders are a medium sized arachnid with short, blunt spinnerets. Like all spiders their body is made up of a cephalothorax and abdomen with four pairs of legs.
Trapdoor spiders belong to a group of spiders called mygalomorphs as they have downward facing fangs.
Australia has more species of trapdoor spider than any other country.
Many trapdoor spider species are found in dry habitats to which they are adapted.
Trapdoor spiders build burrows up to 30-40 centimetres deep in the ground and along embankments. Burrows are often lined with spider silk at the entrance.
Some species of trapdoor spider close their burrows with thick plug doors whilst others build doors with ornate extensions. These doors are highly camouflaged making them almost undetectable to the human eye. As the trapdoor spider grows each year so must its burrow and door. Because of this some doors look like the rings of a tree as a rim is added each year.
Despite what their name suggests most species of trapdoor spiders do not actually build a door for their burrows.
Common prey items for trapdoor spiders include invertebrates such as crickets, moths, beetles and grasshoppers.
Without a web to catch flying insects, trapdoor spiders must physically catch their prey. Trapdoor spiders wait until a prey item is near the entrance to their burrow before capturing it with their chelicerae.
Birds, bandicoots, centipedes, scorpions, parasitic wasps and flies prey on trapdoor spiders.
During humid weather adult male trapdoor spiders will wander in search of a mate. Male and female trapdoor spiders mate inside the female spider’s burrow. If lucky, the male will escape the burrow without being eaten by the female!
Female trapdoor spiders lay their eggs inside their burrow several months after mating. Hatchlings remain in the burrow for another several months before leaving to make their own miniature burrows. Female spiders will stay in or near their burrows until they mature. When mature, males will leave their burrows to search for a mate.
On average, trapdoor spiders can live between five and 20 years. The longest-lived spider ever recorded is a female trapdoor spider found in Western Australia named Number 16. She lived for 43 years!
The Invertebrate Explorer digital book explores the incredible world of Australian invertebrates.
Students can use the book to investigate classification, features, adaptations and habitats of a variety of Australian invertebrates through narrated videos, stunning images, interactive activities and detailed text.
This book was designed by teachers to support the NSW Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus and NSW English K-6 Syllabus.
Content supports living world, Australian animals and class studies on invertebrates.
Australian Museum. 2020. Trapdoor spiders. [online] Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/spiders/trapdoor-spiders-group/>.
Queensland Museum. n.d. Trapdoor spiders. [online] Available at: <https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Explore/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Spiders/Primitive+Spiders+Infraorder+Mygalomorphae/Trapdoor+spiders>.
Trapdoor spiders have downward facing fangs. - "Trapdoor spider" by John from Canberra CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (cropped)
This trapdoor spider burrow has been extracted from a rock. How long do you think it is? - "Trapdoor Spider". CC0 1.0.
The door of trapdoor spiders can be difficult to find when closed, as they are covered in soil, lichen and moss. - Pixabay. CCO 1.0
Trapdoor spiders are called ambush predators as they hide and wait for their prey in their burrows. - "Trapdoor spider" by Malaysian Spiders CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Trapdoor spiders hide in their burrows to escape predators. - "Trapdoor spider" by Lacewing! CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (cropped)
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