HOMES in Australia could face being swarmed by “megaspiders” after a huge funnel-web creepy-crawly with huge fangs was caught.
The beast, which has 2cm long fangs and can pierce human flesh, was handed in to staff at the Australian Reptile Park.
The news comes as reports surge of the number of spiders found in wet and humid conditions in New South Wales.
Keeper Jake Meney warned the funnel-web spiders, which are thought to be the world’s most venomous arachnids, were “very active” on the east coast due to an “influx” of them thanks to the heavy rain.
He said: “This female funnel-web spider is over 8cm in length and the average funnel-webs are typically less than five, so this spider is quite a bit larger than typical.
“Even a normal-sized funnel-web has extremely large fangs, but on this megaspider, the fangs are almost 2cm long, which is longer than a taipan fang, and that's capable of puncturing a human fingernail.”
Meney also urged worried residents not to squash the spiders but to hand them into the park, if possible.
Staff at the park will milk the spiders’ venom to produce life-saving antivenom.
The park’s education officer Michael Tate said he had never seen a funnel-web this big in more than 30 years.
“She is unusually large, and if we can get the public to hand in more spiders like her, it will only result in more lives being saved due to the huge amount of venom they can produce,” he said.
A programme run by the park saves around 300 lives a year.
Tate said the spider had been handed in without any information and staff were keen for more details so they can track down more spiders.
The creepy facts
The funnel-web spider is native to Australia and some species have been known to be fatal to humans if bitten.
The bites of the Sydney funnel-web spider and northern tree-dwelling funnel-web are potentially deadly, but no fatalities have occurred since the introduction of modern first-aid techniques and antivenom.
Most funnel-web spiders have a body length of between 1 and 5 cms.
Their fangs are large and powerful and are capable of piercing human nails and even soft shoes.
They are commonly found in suburban rockeries and shrubberies, rarely in lawns or other open terrain.
A burrow characteristically has irregular silk trip-lines radiating from the entrance.
They make their burrows in moist, cool, sheltered habitats – under rocks, in and under rotting logs, and some in rough-barked trees
A bite from a funnel-web spider can be initially very painful due to the size of the fangs and symptoms from the venom can appear within minutes and progress rapidly.
Early symptoms of systemic envenomation include goose bumps, sweating, tingling around the mouth and tongue,
Further symptoms can occur later which include vomiting, shortness of breath and confusion as well as grimacing and muscle spasms.
If not treated with antivenom the person can then fall into unconsciousness and potentially die.
“We are really keen to find out where she came from in hopes to find more massive spiders like her,” he said.
Craig Adams from SSSafe said catching funnel webs in containers aren't difficult because they don't jump and find it difficult climbing up smooth surfaces, according to a Facebook post.
Adams urged residents in Sydney and Wollongong not to leave their shoes outside or to at least make sure no spiders had gotten inside.
Dan Rumsey, head zookeeper at the Australian Reptile Park, told the Nine Network there were a number of “hotspots” where people should look out for them.
“Obviously gardens are number one. Key areas would be shoes at the back door,” he said.
He advised people trying to catch them that they should use a glass jar with holes in the lid, and use a long plastic ruler to guide it in.
But he warned: “If you're close enough to touch them they're close enough to bite you.”
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