Red Back Spider Bite First Aid

red back spider

In Australia it is the Red Back Spider and Funnel Web Spider whose bites can cause death. Although the last recorded death was in 1979 due to the development of anti-venom.


The Red Back is a close relative of the Black Widow from the USA.

Symptoms of a Red Back Bite

  • The fangs are tiny and it's bite may often go unnoticed, but, often a sharp pin-prick may be felt
  • Severe pain at the site of the bite, leading to more general pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Sweating occurs in varying degrees, particularly around site of the bite of the affected area is common
  • Tachycardia - the heart beats fast
Red Back Bite

First Aid for a Red Back Bite

  • The bitten person needs to stay still and apply ice.
  • Many hospitals and ambulance vehicles carry the Red Back anti-venom so either call an ambulance or get to the closest emergency hospital for anti-venom.
  • If safe to do so, take the spider to the hospital for identification.
  • Usually it is safer to take a photo if at all possible.

There have been no deaths from Red Back bites since anti-venom became available in 1956.

  • DO NOT apply a tourniquet. This cuts blood flow completely and may result in loss of the affected limb.
  • DO NOT give the patient medication including aspirin unless instructed to do so by a medical professional.


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Photos by Glenn Graibeard



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