With fangs that can pierce a human fingernail, the largest male specimen of the world's most venomous spider species has found a new home at the Australian Reptile Park where it will help save lives after being accidentally discovered by a member of the public.
The potentially deadly Sydney funnel spider, nicknamed Hercules, was found on the Central Coast, about 80 kilometers north of Sydney, and was initially delivered to a local hospital, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement.
Spider experts recovered it from a nearby park and quickly realized it was the largest male specimen ever received from the public in Australia.
The spider measured 7.9 centimeters (3.1 inches) long from foot to foot, surpassing the park's previous record holder from 2018, a male spider named “Colossus.”
The largest funnel-web spider donated to the Australian Reptile Park was a female measuring 8cm from foot to foot – similar to a tarantula. It was found in 2021 and named “Megaspider”.
Sydney funnel-web spiders Typically ranging from 1-5 cm in length, females are generally larger than their male counterparts but are not as deadly. They are mostly found in woodland areas and suburban parks from Sydney, Australia's most populous city, to the coastal city of Newcastle in the north and the Blue Mountains in the west.
Hercules will contribute to the reptile park's poison control program. Safely captured spiders delivered by the public undergo “milking” to extract the venom, which is essential for the production of life-saving antivenom.
“We're used to donating very large funnel-web spiders to the park, but getting a male funnel-web this big is like hitting the jackpot,” Emma Tenney, spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park, said on Thursday.
“While female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be even more deadly. With a male funnel-web of this size in our collection, his venom production can be enormous, proving incredibly valuable to a garden poison program.”
Since the program's inception in 1981, there has been no death in Australia due to a funnel-web spider bite.
Recent wet and rainy weather along the east coast of Australia has provided ideal conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive.
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