Huntsman Spider

Shinobu screamed for help this morning when she found a giant huntsman spider (actually a “huntswoman” really!) in the bedroom. It was a very big female with a leg span of about 15cm. A very impressive creature!
This species is also called the giant crab spider or housekeeping spider and they are common throughout the tropics/subtropics. They frequently live in houses (squeezing into cracks and behind furniture) and they could be said to be beneficial because they eat things like cockroaches and flies. They don’t spin webs but catch their prey by stealth and speed.
Due to its large size, it might look dangerous but this particular spider is not venomous (to humans) although the fangs (chelicerae) look like they could give a nasty bite! I was careful when I picked it up. By the way, the photo of the spider on its back does not show it dead, it just played dead when I put it on its back. Convenient for photographs!

Heteropoda venatoriaHeteropoda venatoriaHeteropoda venatoriaHeteropoda venatoria

Arachnida: Araneae: Sparassidae
Heteropoda venatoria (ashidakagumo)

Link to Wikipedia article on the huntsman spider family (Sprassidae):

19 thoughts on “Huntsman Spider

  1. Nigel — I’d love to use one of these terrific huntsman photos to illustrate a magazine story that’s we’re about to publish in “Weird Tales”. Would you email me?

  2. This is what my wife and I have for years called a Japanese house spider. You are right; that one is a female. They truly are beneficial, and we always leave ours alone. Tiny hatchlings, barely visible, are all over the place early in spring, but cannibalization quickly narrows the population down till there are usually just one female and one or two males left by early summer. They do play dead if disturbed. I have actually been bitten by one, with no harm done. The poor thing apparently was trapped in one of my rubber boots when I put it on. Went walking off into the garden, then began feeling a sort of quivering needling in the bottom of my foot–not really painful, just weird. Sat down, pulled the boot off and dumped out a poor dead huntsman spider. That one wasn’t putting on an act.

  3. Wonderful photos and interesting comments. Its a shame so many people seem to be scared of these amazing creatures (ok, previously including me).

  4. they are really beautiful.
    I’m getting 2 of them next week to keep as pets.
    2 lovely ladys.
    amazingly fast hunters.

  5. Finally after a year I learned what this was that greeted me in the ofuro at 4am. While visiting my in-laws I freaked out to see this huge spider in the bathroom. I threw a cup of water at it and it charged straight for me. I figure it didn’t see me because it did an about face before it reached me. Fortunately I had gotten up at 4am to catch a flight back to the US so I didn’t have to sleep there again. That spider haunted my dreams and my wife found it quite amusing. This year I saw a smaller version in my sister-in-laws house and was able to get a photo and could finally identify it. It is nice to know that it is not poisonous and why they don’t kill them other than it is bad luck.

    The things are amazingly fast! How could you pick it up? Perhaps I know the answer. I guess it was playing dead.

  6. These… are in Japan?! Everywhere, or just a certain area? When I’ve been there its been a bit colder and I was told the spiders hadn’t come out yet, but I had no idea they could get this big.

    Can you offer anymore information for an arachnophobe about how they might avoid these critters? Are there any spiders in Japan I should be really worried about? I heard there was one that had come over from Australia that would hide under toilet seats and I was beyond terrified.

  7. Actually, Aaron, ALL spiders are poisonous.

    Most though, including the Huntsman, aren’t really capable of harming a large animal like a human.

  8. Just saw a female the other day at the Toyota dealership in Gainesville FLORIDA! I have pics if you want to see them. I thought it was a Hunts(woman)man but just could not believe it, and even having just come from Japan after a year i had no idea they were in Japan as well as Ausie! Glad to see these great pics, I can tell clearly that I found the same type of spider in US!!!

  9. Hi, I have lived in Japan for 13 years now and have done some homework on these Spiders before as I saw one late one night that made me wonder what it was, I guessed it was a Huntsman as I had seen them in Australia but was not aware they are in Japan.Apparently they are more common the more South you go but seem to be no further North than Nagoya as its too cold.

  10. I HATE spiders and just happened to see this HUGE thing, on my terrasse. certainly not playing dead, ready jump or attack. I will make sure to close all doors well.
    I’m soo happy to have found your post. Now that I know that they are not dangerous, it will be a bit easier to sleep at night !

  11. Gosh
    how disgusting !
    I could not imagine anything more disgusting than those horrible creatures.
    I prefer having all sorts of bugs and cockroaches than those monsters at home.
    How can someone live with that stuff crawling around, it’s sickening.

  12. One of these critters spooked me from a campground coin shower in Kansai last week. I saw one years ago on my patio in Ibaraki Prefecture, so they are in northern Kanto, too. (Kinda hard to mistaken them for something else!) Grateful for your website so I could accurately identify them! I promise to show more respect to the next one I see.

  13. Living on one of the smaller islands off of Japan, and we have these everywhere. As of this writing, I have been watching one eating and hunting on my glass door for about 4 hours. It is interesting to watch the behavior of one for so long.
    But this island might as well be called Cob-Web Island. The trees along the apartments are full of Orb Weavers and the apartments themselves belong to the Huntsman and Gejigeji.

  14. In Summer 1963, then 10 years old, I encountered this spider in a web spanning the abyss of a Japanese farm’s outhouse. I had never seen a spider so large. Afraid to relieve myself over the monster, I called for my mother, who banished it with a pine twig. Never saw it again. Today, I catch and release harmless spiders in my home but kill black widows since being bitten in 2011.

  15. i, like thomas live in “mushi / kumo land” there are bugs, spiders, lizards, snakes, etc everywhere.
    ain’t it grand?
    oh mine’s shikoku / ehime prefecture

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