Do Poisonous Spiders Lurk Under Toilet Seats?

I really don’t know about the US, but Aussies using thunderdunnies (outhouses to Americans) should certainly check the seat first - that Aussie country classic about the “Redback on the Toilet Seat” is no urban myth. Redback spiders can’t kill anyone over the age of about 5, but they can certainly make you as crook as a dog. And they like to live near people, whose trash (and what they leave behind in the dunny) attracts insects which are the spider’s food source.
The Sydney Funnel Web is far more dangerous (in fact, the most venomous spider in the world - makes the Black Widow look like a teddy bear) but thankfully prefers to live in holes in the ground rather than on toliet seats, in mailboxes or gas meters (just a few places I have found and squashed redbacks).:eek:

Link to Do poisonous spiders lurk under toilet seats? 18-Mar-2003

I suspect that’s a piece of recently manufactured slang, or else a mistake on the part of the OP. “Dunny” and “Thunderbox” are 1970s slang for “toilet”.

There’s general debate over what constitutes a species. One such debate concerns whether the Red Back Latrodectus hasselti is in fact a different species to the Black Widow Latrodectus mactans or the Katipo Latrodectus katipo.

Just a slight correction, Desmostylus, in that the New Zealand katipo spider is actually two species, Latrodectus katipo (true katipo) and Latrodectus atritus (black katipo). Neither of which are likely to be hiding around the dunnies of our fair land, as their prefered habitat is among the driftwood and sedges. And they’re becoming rarer.

Info from Te Papa museum.

I do not contest the staff answer to the spider story—well debunked! However, as the fellow from Australia said, spiders do love outhouses. They are warm, moist, and hattract insects for spider food. In areas where the black widow spider is found–mostly the southern part of the US, a very large proportion of the black widow spider bites that do occur (somewhere in the 90% range) happen in outhouses. So, just be careful where you go – so to speak. It is unlikely that a single black widow bite will kill you, but it will be most unpleasant.:eek:

See! Leaving the seat up is a good thing!

In reply to Demostylus - "Thunderdunny"is a term I heard widely used in the 1970s and 80s when camping in Hill End, north of Bathurst, and actually refers specifically to the “long drop” style latrine. “Dunny” by itself is far older than 1970s (when they were being phased out) - I have seen in printed in books from the 1950s, and occasionally refer to periods prior to WWI. It stems from the Gaelic “Dun”, which means a “small fort in a meadow”. “Thunderbox” is one I haven’t heard.
Re the species issue; I was under the impression the redback, black widow and katipo are all members of the same genus (Latrodectus) - the second part of their scientific names refer to their specific species.

Just as an aside, can you really blame a spider for biting in that situation? I once heard John Williamson sing the song from the spider’s point of view. “There was a big bum on the toilet seat when I was there last night …” Frightening prospect, really. I mean, what’s the little fella supposed to do, put up an umbrella?

Just look before you sit!

Hey, Doug. You really should’ve given the original UC Riverside article due credit for the writing. You plgiarized it almost verbatim! Shame on you. It reflects terribly on this site when you “quote” without giving due credit. Really, what’s gotten into you?

On the species issue:

Spider Envenomations, Redback

There is a thunderbox in Evelyn Waugh’s novel about WWII, “Sword of Honour”. You can read about it at Thunderbox
It seems to have been around for some time.

Simple, really. Since I was involved in developing that UCR page, and had my friend Rick’s cooperation, I didn’t bother.