Massive Killer Spider Found in Australia Could Save Lives

Australian Reptile Park plans to milk the 'megaspider' to make antivenom
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2021 1:10 PM CST
Massive Killer Spider Found in Australia Could Save Lives
The megaspider, alongside a smaller funnel-web spider.   (Australian Reptile Park)

If you happen to have handed over a massive spider with fangs almost an inch long to an anti-venom program in Australia, the Australian Reptile Park wants to hear from you. The park says the funnel-web spider, nicknamed "megaspider," is the largest arachnid of this kind that the facility has ever seen. It measures about 3 inches from foot to foot, with a body that's 1.9 inches wide, which is unusually large. The Australian Museum notes that body size is at the top end of the spectrum for a funnel-web spider, whose body can be as small as a third of an inch.

This giant spider (see it in action here) turned up at the park in a clear plastic container bearing no information on the donor or where it was found, the Guardian reports. The park on the New South Wales Central Coast encourages citizens to catch funnel-web spiders that can be milked for venom. The venom is then used to make antivenom, which saves some 300 lives each year, according to the park. "We are really keen to find out where she came from in hopes to find more MASSIVE spiders like her," the park's education officer, Michael Tate, says in a statement, per KSL. "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."

Not all of the 40-or-so varieties of funnel-web spiders are known to be dangerous, "but several are renowned for their highly toxic and fast acting venom," according to the Australian Museum, which notes the black or brown arachnids found in eastern Australia are "the most notorious members of our spider fauna." Male Sydney funnel-web spiders are believed to be responsible for all 13 recorded deaths in humans. Luckily, "no deaths have been recorded since the introduction of an antivenom in 1981," the museum notes. (More spiders stories.)

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