The list of Australia’s most hazardous inhabitants invariably includes the Redback spider.
A relative of the Black Widow, this angry arachnid was responsible for at least 14 human deaths before the availability of anti-venom.
The problem with Redbacks is that unlike deadly sharks, crocs and brown snakes, they prefer the comforts of urban living. The average suburban block provides plenty of nooks and crannies just perfect for a Redback residency.
Around sheds, under garden furniture, in the letterbox – you name it, a Redback is probably sizing up its potential new abode. So happy are they to dwell in dilapidated dunnies that Redbacks are sometimes dubbed toilet spiders!
In possession of potent neuro-toxic venom, the female is by far the most dangerous of the species. Fortunately, camouflage is not her strong suit, emblazoned as she is with a bright red abdominal stripe or splotch.
A scruffy web is another tell-tale sign of her presence. Unlike the classic orb web, it’s a disheveled-looking but actually highly sophisticated construction of tangled catching lines designed to trap prey.
It’s into this sticky den that the much smaller and less colourful male must venture in order to mate with his dominant partner. Regrettably, the outcome is rarely great for such a fearless fellow, as in a macabre ritual, the female bites and devours him during copulation. You might say he’s required to make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of love!
The seventh release in the extremely popular Australian Map-Shaped Series of 1oz pure silver coins features a Redback spider. No more than 6,000 of these remarkable coins will be released in presentation packaging.