|Image: Jason Bond|
It's a male Red-headed Mouse Spider. He has a red head! Apparently "Blue-butted Mouse Spider" lost out.
Mouse Spiders are some of the most fearsome-looking spiders imaginable. Sure their abdomen is quite soft and fuzzy, same as any other spider, but the rest of their body is black and glossy like latex and leather and PVC and whips and chains and... excuse me.
|Image: Karla Quintana Pearce|
This particular species is found across almost all of Australia. They spend their time within a burrow that can reach up to 60 cm (2 feet) deep and has two entrances, each covered with a camouflaged door made of silk and soil. Silk lines radiate from the entrances to act as tripwires. They vibrate whenever an insect steps on them, thus alerting the spider to the presence of a meal.
Alternatively they can pop out at night and see if there happens to be anything juicy nearby, and with their huge fangs and potent venom, that can include small lizards and frogs.
He travels during the day, which is unusual for journeying spiders. His blaze of red probably wards off predators since while Mouse Spiders are rather sluggish and not particularly aggressive, their venom is quite the opposite. They're the original odd couple!
The male extends his long pedipalps in front him as he walks, probably to sniff out female pheromones. After all, it would be pretty bad for him to blunder into a tripwire by accident. Once he finds a female's burrow he taps on a tripwire, no doubt with some kind of secret knock.
Females lay about 50 eggs which they keep in a side chamber of the burrow. Once they hatch, the youngsters climb out and extend a length of silk into the air, where it catches the wind and sends them off on adventures in distant lands. This is called "ballooning", and it's rare for trapdoor spiders, tarantulas and the like to do it. It's probably why these redheads have managed to spread all over Australia.
Not just a pretty face!