It might be the year of the rabbit, but this has most definitely been the week of the spider.
I wouldn't say I'm arachnophobic and I'd definitely choose them over cockroaches anyday. The latter are disgusting, downright evil and form no useful purpose whatsoever... I utterly despise them and even if the idea that they are capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust is nothing more than an urban legend, they are still far too resilient for my liking.
If they could, I promise you they would rise up and eat us all. I'm not prepared to take that risk, so any cocky that crosses my path is promptly smashed to smithereens.
But I digress, having a fairly sizeable spider scramble out of your handbag does not make for a pleasant start to a Monday morning. On the other hand, at least the ugly thing I usually have to face at 7am (my own face, pre-makeup) was firmly shunted into second place on the morning minging scale. Spidey obviously shared my habitual disgust at my reflection and promptly made a run for it... Admittedly he may have also been disgusted by my screaming and throwing shoes at him... I mean, they weren't flipflops: I was shoe-ting to kill and opted for my chunkiest and heaviest pair of platform wedges.
Now, if there is one thing that is worse than seeing a large, eight-legged arachnid roaming around in your bathroom, it is knowing the wretched thing is in there somewhere but being unable to locate it. Actually, scratch that- the one thing that is worse than seeing a large, eight-legged arachnid roaming around in your bathroom, is knowing the wretched thing is in there somewhere but being unable to locate it and, this being Australia, NOT BEING SURE IF IT'S GOING TO KILL YOU. Helpfully, google once again comes to the rescue with a helpful selection of 'Australian spider identification guides', my favourite of which comes complete with unnecessarily lifelike, wriggly diagrams.
Spidey was firmly classified as a Huntsman and the 'enspidelopedia' assures me that their bite "is of low risk (non toxic) to humans" and that they are "a non-aggressive group of spiders". Unfortunately, the site goes on to say that "a large individual can give a painful bite" and that I should "beware in summer when the female Huntsman Spider is guarding her egg sacs or young". My friend Mark, another excellent source of Aus-based info, promised me that these "little fellas" were non-venomous and will only bite me if I "place them under duress".
Yes Mark, but I've already read that if one DOES bite me it will be 'painful' and that I should beware them in Summer... ie now. How exactly am I to know if my early-morning appearance put Spidey under duress?! I witnessed this animals ability to "move sideways at lighting-fast speed when disturbed"- does this refer to mental disturbance? He ran off too quickly for me to complete any psychoanalysis, but I'm pretty sure the wedge-throwing would have pissed him off. Further more, how do I tell if it was actually a Mrs Spidey, running off to her young?
Pardon my hysteria, but I am English. To me, this was not a "little fella": it was big enough to pack heat. Aussies might not think they're a huge deal given how many creatures there are here capable of killing you, but I come from a country where the most scary animals we have to handle are oversized woodlice... And of course the enigmatic adder, our only venomous snake, which no one has ever seen and quite frankly I doubt the existence of- I think they're made up to make England look less pathetic to Australians.
Supposedly, the Huntsman is "a shy, timid spider ", the diameter of which only reaches "about 45 mm"... I'm not convinced given that, as I recall, Spidey looked more like this:
Thankfully, there has been no reappearance of my eight-legged visitor and I am trying my hardest to believe that he (or she) has decided to move on to pastures (and handbags) new... but I'm not yet ready to stop flapping every object I pick up with the calculated ferocity of a professional snowglobe shaker. I'm not altogether convinced that Spidey isn't lying in wait for me, to exact his (or her) revenge, but I've decided to be mature about the situation (i.e. not throw any more shoes) and realistically, I suppose this house IS big enough for the both of us. Plus, my googling has revealed one very important fact: according to Wikipedia Huntsman spiders "can be considered beneficial because they feed on insects (cockroaches are a favourite)".
So Huntsman spiders... eat... cockroaches...?
What have I done?! Come back Spidey, all is forgiven!!!