The striking looking Red-headed Mouse Spider (Missulena occatoria) have a smooth, glossy carapace (the dorsal section of the exoskeleton), with a head area that is high, steep and broad and with large, bulbous jaws. Their eyes are widespread across the front of their head. The spinnerets (the silk producing organ) are short and blunt, located at the back of the abdomen.
It is the male of the species that has the bright red head and chelicerae (a pair of appendages in front of the mouth), with a royal blue coloured abdomen. The male have thinner and longer legs without mating spurs.
The female Red-headed Mouse Spiders are much larger, appearing very different (having once been considered separate species). The female spiders are stout with short legs and tend to be dark brown to black all over, however their jaws are sometimes red-tinged.
When provoked, like all genus Missulena are aggressive and is quick to rise to the striking position. The females however tend to remain in or near their burrows, and appear sluggish and rarely aggressive. The Red-headed Mouse spiders are known to produce a highly toxic venom, especially in the female spider.
Whilst found across mainland Australia, the Red-headed Mouse Spiders are mainly west of the Great Dividing Range.
- Scientific classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Infraorder: Mygalomorphae
- Family: Actinopodidae
- Genus: Missulena
- Species: M. occatoria
- Binomial name: Missulena occatoria