Huntsman spiders are the common name for the Sparassidae family. This family of spiders includes 1,027 identified species in temperate or tropical regions of Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Named for their speed and method of hunting prey, huntsman spiders are also known by various local names, such as the wood spider in Australia because they are frequently seen in forests, mine shafts, and woodpiles. A species in southern Africa is called rain spiders or lizard-eating spider because they live in wet habitats and hunt lizards, frogs and several types of small invertebrates.
Some huntsman spiders are large with long legs that average 10-15 centimeters across, although a minority of Huntsman species are small with a leg span of only 1-2 centimeters. Their coloration is usually shades of grey or brown with orange, black or white markings. Some species have banded legs, and all Huntsman spiders have bristles, commonly described as hair, on their bodies and legs. Most species have flat bodies suited to living in narrow spaces. Their legs have twisted joints to spread forward and laterally. They are sometimes referred to as crab spiders because their unusual jointed legs result in crab-like motions.
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