Not so incy wincy: spider kills snake in Outback duel

February 12, 2016
Farmer Patrick Lees said he was astonished to discover the expired brown snake dangling from a web at his outback home in Weetha
Farmer Patrick Lees said he was astonished to discover the expired brown snake dangling from a web at his outback home in Weethalle, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Sydney

A plucky little spider has once again proved that size doesn't matter by taking on—and beating—a much larger venomous snake, in a very Australian telling of the story of David and Goliath.

The spindly Daddy Long Legs appeared to have come out on top after going head-to-head with a brown snake in rural New South Wales.

Farmer Patrick Lees said he was astonished to discover the expired reptile dangling from a web at his outback home in Weethalle, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Sydney, on Saturday.

"The snake was already dead, I made sure of that before I took the photo," he told AFP, referring to the creature's reputation for its deadly venom and quick bite.

Lees' photo, posted on his Aussie Farmer Facebook page, has proved a huge hit in a country well known for its array of fearsome animals.

Many Australians take Mother Nature in their stride, but visitors to the vast island country marvel at its range of dangerous wildlife, from gargantuan saltwater crocodiles to the deadly Sydney Funnel Web Spider.

Brown snakes are common in eastern Australia, and can be as much as two metres (six feet) long when fully grown, according to the website of the Australian Museum.

Their bite, which delivers a potent mix of neurotoxins and coagulants, can be fatal to humans.

A dead brown snake strung up on a spider's web with a Daddy Long Legs spider by its tail in Weethalle, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Sydney, in an image taken on February 6, 2016 and released by Patrick Lees on February 12

Lees said that after taking his photograph, he left the determined little arachnid to enjoy its moment.

"I can't deny the spider its victory," Lees said.

"I'm not sure if it killed it but it definitely won in the long run."

Wildlife experts said it was possible the snake and the spider had duked it out—to the death—but it was impossible to know for sure.

"The most likely scenario is that the snake got entangled in the spider's web," Graham Milledge of The Australian Museum told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"Usually what happens then is the spider will try to wrap the and then they'll bite it."

The museum's website says after killing prey with venom, Daddy Long Legs spiders squirt digestive juices onto its body, before sucking up and ingesting the resulting fluids.

Explore further: Snake unlikely to have killed Cleopatra

Related Stories

Snake unlikely to have killed Cleopatra

October 21, 2015

Academics at The University of Manchester have dismissed the long-held argument that the ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra was killed by a snake bite.

Spiders—how spooky are they?

October 26, 2015

Spooky scenes of fake spiders in giant webs are everywhere this time of year. But despite the Halloween hype, spiders hardly deserve their reputation as dangerous creatures, says NC State University entomologist Matt Bertone.

Insect DNA extracted, sequenced from black widow spider web

November 25, 2015

Scientists extracted DNA from spider webs to identify the web's spider architect and the prey that crossed it, according to this proof-of-concept study published November 25, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Charles ...

Brown widow spider reported for the first time in Tahiti

August 25, 2015

Tahiti is a popular tourist destination, but one unwanted visitor has decided to make its home there: the brown widow spider (Latrodectus geometricus). A paper published in the Journal of Medical Entomology has reported the ...

Australian spider named after David Attenborough

August 4, 2012

A newly discovered Australian spider measuring little more than a millimetre in length has been named after celebrated British scientist and broadcaster David Attenborough, reports said Saturday.

Recommended for you

Cow gene study shows why most clones fail

December 9, 2016

It has been 20 years since Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned in Scotland, but cloning mammals remains a challenge. A new study by researchers from the U.S. and France of gene expression in developing clones now shows ...

Blueprint for shape in ancient land plants

December 9, 2016

Scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge have unlocked the secrets of shape in the most ancient of land plants using time-lapse imaging, growth analysis and computer modelling.

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

big_hairy_jimbo
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2016
Daddy long legs are NOT spiders, but YES they are Arachnids.
This really is quite poor from a science site to make that mistake.
Vietvet
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2016
Pholcus phalangioides, common name Daddy- long legs is indeed a spider.

"This is the only spider species described by the Swiss entomologist Johann Kaspar F�Ľssli who first recorded it for science in 1775. Confusion often arises over its common name, because "daddy long-legs" is also applied to two other distantly related arthropods: firstly another arachnid from order Opiliones otherwise known as the harvestman, and an insect less ambiguously called the crane fly."
https://en.wikipe...ngioides

http://australian...s-spider
24volts
5 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2016
The daddy long leg 'spiders' that live around here don't even bite - don't even have fangs. Nor are they poisonous. Seems a lot of different critters are called by the same name!
BSD
5 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2016
If it has two body segments and eight jointed legs and no antennae, it's a spider. Opiliones only have one body segment.
big_hairy_jimbo
5 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2016
I stand corrected. IT seems there are THREE creatures known as "Daddy-long-legs", but only one is a true spider..
Thank you Vievet and BSD.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.