Very thin, funny looking and knock-kneed, do you need more?
The Hemicloea belong to the family Gnaphosidae and the subfamily Hemicloeinae, of which there are currently 19 Hemicloea species, spread Australia wide. The two species I have noted around Esperance rarely exceed 2 cm in length (excluding legs) and are usually closer to 1 cm (less than half the size of most Huntsman Spiders), plus being very thin they are not very frightening, even for those with a spider phobia.
The arrangement of their legs is called laterigrade, which means the top of the leg is twisted 90 degrees and faces backwards. This gives the back legs a knock-kneed appearance, as they can touch behind the abdomen. Anyway, this twisted leg arrangement permits the spider to get down really low to squeeze into very small spaces. Not only that, it also allows it to move forwards, backwards and sideways.
A male Hemicloea species, indicated by the large palps near the mouth and next to the front legs.
Normally these spiders live under rocks or loose tree bark, but sometimes they find a tiny crack in the walls of your house and hey presto, when you pick something up, out scuttles this funny looking spider in a complete mess and wondering what to do next.
I leave them alone, as they do no harm, but despite their funny appearance, they catch and eat other spiders, bugs, etc. So great to control any build-up of currently unseen less amusing species.
This is the female (bulkier and also shorter legs) feeding on another spider.
Below you can see how thin they are! Just a tiny crack is all they need to squeeze into.
This fellow has a weird clownish appearance, with the front legs grossly out of proportion to the rest of it.
When I first saw it, I thought it may be one of the many Huntsman Spiders, but when keying it out from observable photographic features, I thought the flat abdomen placed it in the Hemicloeinae subfamily. Now there are two main genera here, the Hemicloea and the Hemicloeina, the latter recently revised. The difference between these groups is the arrangement of the spinnerets, which cannot be seen in these photos. So exactly where it lies I am not sure. If anyone out there can assist, your comments would be welcome.
Update March 2009: An error on my part because it is one of the Huntsman Spiders, but not a common one where I live, as this photo is the only observation I have made of this species. A distinctive feature that separates this spider from the Hemicloea is the long front legs as compared with the rear pair.
This spider also has the slender profile.
This is the only spider I have seen of this species. It is obviously a male, but has lost one of its palps, so probably there are ladies of this species (unknown to me) around too.
All these spiders are wandering hunters so don't build messy webs. Therefore, if you are fortunate to find one in your house, let it put a smile on your face then permit it to go about its business because they are doing you a great service.