An Australian zoo acquires a venomous, fanged 'megaspider' and is searching for more
This is your creepy-crawly warning. Read on at your own risk.
A zoo in Australia has acquired what officials there say is the largest funnel web spider they've ever seen.
Measuring in at 8 centimeters (a little more than 3 inches), the so-called megaspider possesses a potentially deadly bite with fangs strong enough to pierce through a human fingernail.
The spider was turned over anonymously to the Australian Reptile Park, about an hour's drive north of Sydney, as part of the zoo's antivenom program.
"Having MEGASPIDER handed into the venom program is so amazing, in my 30+ years at the Park, I have never seen a funnel web spider this big!" said Michael Tate, education officer at the Australian Reptile Park, in a statement.
People who find funnel web spiders can turn them in at the zoo, which milks their venom and sends it to a pharmaceutical company in Melbourne, where it's made into antivenom. The Australian Reptile Park estimates the antivenom program, which it says is the only one of its kind in the country, saves as many as 300 lives per year.
Funnel web spiders are one of only two types of arachnids that have caused deaths in Australia in the past, according to the Australian Museum. (The other is the redback spider.) There have been no deaths by spider bite in the country since 1979.
Now the zoo is hoping to find the anonymous donor of the "megaspider," because it may lead them to an area with more unusually large arachnids that produce larger amounts of venom for the antivenom program. Zoo officials say they received the spider at one of their drop-off points in an unmarked Tupperware container.
"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," Tate said. "We are really keen to find out where she came from in hopes to find more MASSIVE spiders like her."
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