Acc981's picture

Large fast spider in Scotland

Observed: 23rd September 2010 By: Acc981
2010_09_23 Spider

My house is in the country in Argyll, Scotland. I have seen this spider in my home a few times. Although I am a Scot I don't recall ever seeing a spider like this in Scotland before, and I would like to know if it is a native species?
As you can see from the photograph with the measuring tape it is quite a large spider, several cm across. Every time I have seen it it has been on the floor. Sometimes moving at great speed in a dimly lit room. It does not seem particularly agressive but it does give you a fright when you look down and see it right next to your bare toes. Rightly or wrongly I have the impression that this beast actively hunts it pray, rather than spinning webs.
I would like to know more about it, can anybody identify it?
Possibly we brought these spiders home to Scotland from a narrow boat we were on in England in Oct/2008. The second photograph show a spider on the boat, again it was big and very fast so may be the same type. We have also been on several earlier holidays to Morocco, but the narrow boat spider is too much of a coincidence.
These spider may occur in Scotland but they certainly are not common as their size and speed make them memorable.

    Likely ID
    Tegenaria sp.
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
    ID agreements (): 7 People
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    • Notiomaso
Species interactions

No interactions present.


Syrphus's picture

The Tegenaria house spiders

The Tegenaria house spiders are widespread in Scotland - a few very similar species. Most of the time they are around but not obvious, then males appear in bathrooms etc. in autumn. They are large and exotic-looking, but are (I have been assured) harmless. I still don't like picking them up, though.

They do in fact build funnel-webs from which they ambush prey. Yours is a male (swollen pedipalps) and will have been running around looking for a female rather than for prey.



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Acc981's picture

What species of Tegenaria do you think it is ?

I am amazed by the quick response to my post, thanks.

Please excuse my ignorance on this subject.
Looking up Tegenaria it is a "Genus" which contains a number of "Species" which are very different from each other.

You have described the spider as being a house spider. However I have read on wikipedia that "Tegenaria Domestica" only reaches 2.5cm at full legspan, so that is not it.

At the moment "Tagenaria Atrica" seems like a good bet to me, being fast and quite large, but the article I read described its range as "Europe upto Central Asia and North Africa", so it does not sound as if it is particularly a native of Scotland.

Is it possible to be more precise about which species of spider it is from the photograph?

Syrphus's picture

Tegenaria is a genus (a group

Tegenaria is a genus (a group of related species). In lots of invertebrates these species are very difficult to separate (needs a microscope, technical keys, and ability to count hairs on various odd bits, etc.).

In Tegenaria there are several very similar species in this category, sometimes quite difficult to tell apart even with a body and a lot of experience. With these you need to look at the structure of the pedipalps in males, and of the genitalia in females. So, no, you will not get a specific ID from the picture.

T. gigantea and T. saeva are the two commonest large species in N and W Scotland, and the situation is complicated further because these two were thought originally to be one species. Also the specific names have changed a lot recently.

Enough complexity for one night!



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rimo's picture

It's impossible to be more

It's impossible to be more precise than genus from a photo such as this - the species are very similar and can only be reliably seperated by microscopic examination of the palps - and it can be difficult even then. Size is not a great characteristic to rely on, as it is greatly variable in invertebrates.

There are 10 species of Tegenaria spider with British distribution records on the National Biodiversity Network Gateway (, including T. atrica, which does have records from Scotland.

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Acc981's picture

You can zoom in a bit

I have added a second photograph taken in England two years earlier, possibly the same type of spider.

If you click the photographs you get a link that lets you download the full image which can be magnified a bit further (still not the best of photographs though).

Are the pincer like feature on the rear of the 2008 spider spinnerets? They are very pronounced.

I may have seen a funnel web in cracks in masonry on the outside of my house - will keep an eye out for them.

Seldom if ever see a ladybird here in Argyll, but have seen big swarms in both England and France in the past.