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Redback Spiders are found Australia-wide, but are most common in urban areas living under roof eaves, floorboards, shelves, flower pots or in garden sheds. Female Redback Spiders are black, sometimes brown, and can be identified by a red or orange stripe on top of their abdomen. They also have an hourglass shaped red or orange marking located underneath the abdomen. The male Redback Spider is usually light brown with white or yellow markings instead of red or orange. The female generally grows to 1cm while the male is a modest 5mm.

Redback spiders are nocturnal and usually keep to their own web, however females are known to sometimes steal stored food items from other spider’s webs. The female is characteristically aggressive and is the only one capable of harming humans. The male’s fangs are incapable of penetrating human skin.

More than 250 Redback Spider bites receive antivenom each year, while a number of envenomations probably go unreported because the symptoms weren’t as serious. Since Redback Spiders don’t stray from their webs often, it is unlikely that a human will be bitten unless they come into direct contact with the web or female spider.


The bite of the Redback Spider is highly venomous. It is characterised by intense localised pain around the bite site. Other common  symptoms of a Redback Spider bite include:

  • Sweatingredback_firstaid
  • Muscular weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions (in serious cases)

How Do I Treat a Redback Spider Bite?

A Redback Spider bite can be life-threatening to a child or pregnant women, but is rarely serious for an adult.


  • Keep casualty under constant observation
  • Apply an ice pack or a cold compress to lessen the pain
  • If the casualty is a young child, a pregnant women or if collapse occurs and pain is severe, transport the casualty to emergency medical treatment. Anitvenom is available.
  • DO NOT use the Pressure Immobilisation Technique 

The bite site is likely to remain red and itchy for a few days after the bite occurs. If symptoms are still present after 7 days, revisit your doctor.

Learn more with Australia Wide First Aid courses

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This post was written by awfa

1 Comment

  • Jan cooper says:

    I disturbed a web and found a red back female not sure if I was bitten but have no signs yet except for a itchy feeling thanks