Red-headed Mouse Spider
Category: Arachnida Spider
Facts about Red-headed Mouse Spiders, "Scientific name for Red-headed Mouse Spider is Missulena occatoria". The red-headed mouse spider is part of the Actinopodidae family. The species, Missulena occatoria, is an Australian native that lives in the western part of the Australian continent. Related mouse spider species have white or gray areas on their abdomens. However, the red-headed mouse spider is distinguished by its red head and blue abdomen on the males and females are brown to black in color.
Red headed mouse spiders grow very large palps around the mouth long enough to be mistaken for another set of legs, but they have the standard eight legs. Red headed mouse spiders, aside from their coloring, can be mistaken for funnel web species. They are so closely related that the funnel web spider anti-venom can be used to treat the bite of a red-headed mouse spider. And the red-headed mouse spider is poisonous, though bites are rare. The few bites that do occur are when someone’s hand or foot is near the burrow.
Female Red-headed Mouse Spider rarely leave their burrows, preferring to hunt only what passes by their trap door. Males live in their burrows until sexual maturity, when they venture out to mate. While female Red-headed Mouse Spider live several years after maturity, the male dies shortly after mating.
The red-headed mouse spider like other mouse spiders has two knob like spinners that protrude from its rear. They have very large fangs, male and females both. Male Red-headed Mouse Spider have longer legs than the females. Female Red-headed Mouse Spider are also about a third larger than the males. While males are around an inch (2.54 cm) long, females are an inch and a half in length.
The red-headed mouse spider digs burrows that it covers with a trap door. The trap door helps it retain moisture, protect it from predators and extremes in temperature. They don’t build webs to catch their prey, but they do use silk to create a hinge of sorts for the trap door.
Red-headed Mouse Spiders have oversize brains.
In the Red-headed Mouse Spider the oxygen is bound to "hemocyanin" a copper-based protein that turns their blood blue, a molecule that contains copper rather than iron. Iron-based hemoglobin in red blood cells turns the blood red
Red-headed Mouse Spiders have two body parts, the front part of the body is called the Cephalothorax-(the thorax and fused head of spiders). Also on this part of the body is the Red-headed Mouse Spider’s gland that makes the poison and the stomach, fangs, mouth, legs, eyes and brain. Red-headed Mouse Spiders also have these tiny little leg-type things called (pedipalps) that are next to the fangs. They are used to hold food while the Red-headed Mouse Spider bites it. The next part of the Red-headed Mouse Spiders body is the abdomen and the abdomens back end is where there is the spinnerets and where the silk producing glands are located.
The term mouse spider comes from the mistaken belief that mouse spiders had very deep burrows like mice, but the mouse spider's burrows are mostly just deep enough to protect from a predator and wide enough for the spider to turn around.
Spiders belong to a group of animals called "arachnids", mites and Scorpions and a tick is also in the arachnid family. An Arachnids is a creature with eight legs, two body parts, no antennae or wings and are not able to chew on food. Spiders are not insects because insects have three main body parts and six legs and most insects have wings.
The Arachnids are even in a larger group of animals called "arthropods" an invertebrate animal of the large phylum Arthropoda, which also include spiders, crustaceans and insects. They are the largest group in the animal world, about 80% of all animals come from this group. There are over a million different species. There are more than 40,000 different types of spiders in the world.
The muscles in a Red-headed Mouse Spiders legs pull them inward, but the spider can't extend its legs outward. It will pump a watery liquid into its legs that pushes them out. A Red-headed Mouse Spider’s legs and body are covered with lots of hair and these hairs are water-repellent, which trap a thin layer of air around the body so the Red-headed Mouse Spiders body doesn't get wet. It allows them to float, this is how some spiders can survive under water for hours. A Red-headed Mouse Spider feels its prey with chemo sensitive hairs on its legs and than feels if the prey is edible. The leg hair picks up smells and vibrations from the air. There are at minimum, two small claws that are at the end of the legs. Each spiders leg has six joints, giving the spider 48 leg joints. The spider’s body has oil on it, so the spider doesn't stick to it’s own web.
A Red-headed Mouse Spiders stomach can only take liquids, so a Red-headed Mouse Spider needs to liquefy their food before they eat. They bite on their prey and empty its stomach liquids into the pray which turns it into a soup for them to drink.
A male Red-headed Mouse Spider has two appendages called "pedipalps" a sensory organ, instead of a penis, which is filled with sperm and insert by the male into the female Red-headed Mouse Spider’s reproductive opening.
Red-headed Mouse Spiders do not have a skeletons. They have a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton-(a rigid external covering for the body in some invertebrate animals). The exoskeleton is hard, so it can’t grow with the spider. The young Red-headed Mouse Spiders need to shed their exoskeleton. The spider has to climb out of the old shell through the cephalothorax. Once out, they must spread themselves out before the new exoskeleton will harden. Know they have some room to grow. They stop growing once they fill this shell. Female spiders are usually bigger than males.