A funnel-web spider with fangs so long it could bite through a fingernail, has been donated to the Australian Reptile Park.
The spider, nicknamed by staff ‘Megaspider’, was left at a Australian Reptile Park spider drop-off point and will be used as part of the park’s antivenom program.
Megaspider measures in at 8cm with 2cm long fangs and is roughly double the size of a typical funnel-web female.
Michael Tate, Education Officer at the Australian Reptile Park, said in his 30 years working at the park he has never seen a spider so big.
“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. We are really keen to find out where she came from in hopes to find more massive spiders like her.”
The Australian Reptile Park is the only facility in the country that milks the raw venom of the funnel-web spider to make antivenom. Once milked, the venom is sent to Seqirus in Melbourne to produce the lifesaving antivenom.
The venom program is estimated to save up to 300 Australian lives each year, and more than 25,000 lives in total since its launch in the 1950s.
People are able to drop off spiders either at the park, or at designated drop-off points around the state.
“People can bring any collected spiders to the Reptile Park itself. However, if they can’t get to us, we have drop off zones around Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle and all facilities are provided with a spider safety kit to house the spiders until the Australian Reptile Park staff can come and pick them up each week,” said Tate.