Trapdoor spiders

Family Idiopidae

Trapdoor spider, Idiopidae,burrow entrance


Males have very long thin legs and most species have a special C-shaped spine at the end of the tibia (a thick joint) on the first leg as well as having a swollen tibia of the pedipalp; both of these parts are very important during mating. The C-shaped spines lock the fangs of the female safely away during mating.

None of these spiders can climb smooth vertical surfaces. Most are medium-sized spiders with two small (spinnerets) seen at the end of or just under the body.

Diversity & distribution

Australia is the home of the Trapdoor spider family Idiopidae. We have more species and genera than any other country and often up to 6 species may occur together in one spot. The family occurs also in Africa, Madagascar, India, New Zealand and South America.

They occur in all habitats and are found throughout Australia but become rare in the far north of Queensland and the Northern Territory. The more common genera in south-eastern Queensland are the Tube spiders (genus Arbanitis) and recently rediscovered Brisbane Trapdoor spider (genus Arbanitis longipes).


The spiders build burrows up to 30-40cm deep in the ground and are more common on embankments. The burrow's entrance is often lined with silk-bound leaves. Some groups, e.g., Golden Trapdoor (Euoplos species) build thick plug doors, some with ornate finger-like extensions.

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