Signs & Symptoms of a Mouse Spider Bite

Written by christa kerley
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Signs & Symptoms of a Mouse Spider Bite
The mouse spider is found in most parts of Australia. (spider image by gajatz from

Although not normally fatal, the bite from a mouse spider can be extremely painful and can cause a number of signs and symptoms. Mouse spiders are found throughout Australia, excluding the rainforest areas in the south. Mouse spiders are often compared to the Australasian funnel-web spider because their venom is comparable and bite symptoms are very similar. However, the mouse spider is more docile and will at times bite without releasing venom.

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Severe Pain

Most times the initial indication that you have been bitten by a spider is the pain, and a bite from a mouse spider is deep and particularly painful. According to the Australian Venom Research Unit, Pharmacology Department at the University of Melbourne, there are two phases that represent a bite from a mouse spider. "Phase 1" begins within minutes of a bite and is marked by pain at the bite area and the characteristic fang marks are noticeable. The mouse spider injects a neurotoxin into its victim similar to the funnel-web spider, called robustotoxin. Robustotoxin immediately begins to change the cell structure of the skin, causing immense pain.

Systemic Envenoming

According to the University of Adelaide's Clinical Toxicology Resources, systemic envenoming is one key diagnostic feature of a mouse spider bite. After a mouse spider bite, venom spreads throughout the body's circulatory system causing systemic envenoming. Once the toxin is in every part of the body, known as systemic, it can lead to other signs and symptoms.

Tongue Fasciculation

One such symptom of a marked sign of a mouse spider bite is that the tongue of the victim swells and twitches or contracts involuntary, called tongue fasciculation. This symptom is caused by the venom infiltrating the nervous system of the body.

Hypertension and Hypotension

According to the University of Melbourne Australian Venom Research Unit, hypertension is a key symptom in Phase 1 after a mouse spider bite. Hypertension is when the blood pressure of the body becomes too high, which, depending on the victim, can lead to a stroke or a heart attack. "Phase 2" is characterised by hypotension, whereby the victim experiences a loss of blood pressure and, eventually, blood pressure in the body becomes too low. When the blood pressure becomes lower than normal, the brain, heart and other vital organs do not get an adequate blood supply, which can then lead to severe dizziness and loss of consciousness.

Dyspnea and Hypoventilation

Dyspnea is when a victim of a mouse spider bite experiences sudden shortness of breath without physical exertion. After the venom has infiltrated the body, it can penetrate the respiratory system and breathing can become extremely laboured and shallow. This symptom can lead to hypoventilation, whereby the bite victim is unable to exchange adequate amounts of air and carbon dioxide in the pulmonary system. Hypoventilation creates a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, which then causes the victim to pass out if not treated with oxygen.

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