Dancing white lady spider 'dancing' in defensive threat display on sand dune

Huntsman spiders

Members of the 1000 species strong huntsman spider family frequently reach tarantula-like proportions. They can be alarming fast too, moving in a unnerving crab-like fashion. They generally inhabit tropical areas with undisturbed woody places, which includes garden sheds and woodpiles! Luckily the most you'll get from one of these is a nasty nip. Huntsmans don't usually build webs, but can produce silk. The snail shell spider of Madagascar puts silk-making to extraordinary use, hauling empty snail shells up into a bush for refuge. This was filmed, probably for the first time, for David Attenborough's Madagascar series and can be seen below.

Scientific name: Sparassidae

Rank: Family

Common names:

  • Giant crab spiders,
  • Rain spiders,
  • Wood spiders

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The Huntsman spiders can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Amazon Rainforest, Asia, Australia, China, Indian subcontinent, Madagascar, Mediterranean, North America, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

BBC News about Huntsman spiders

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  • David Attenborough's Madagascar David Attenborough's Madagascar

    Like nowhere else on Earth, the mystery and magic of Madagascar leaves a vivid impression on all those who visit, and none more so than David Attenborough.

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