An antivenom program in Australia has announced the donation of a mega-sized deadly spider nicknamed the “Megaspider.”
Although spooky season has passed, there is a new spider breed that is sure to cause a fright. Donated anonymously to the Australian Reptile Park, this mega-sized funnel-web spider can pierce human fingernails with its venomous fangs. On Friday, park officials shared that this is the biggest known funnel-web spider in the history of the park’s existence. It measures about 3 inches “foot to foot” and has fangs 0.8 inches long.
This is larger than the length of the typical funnel-web arachnid, averaging at about 1-2 inches long. However, the Megaspider is by no means the country’s largest or deadliest spider species.
Funnel-web spiders exist throughout eastern Australia. There are at least 40 species of funnel-web spiders, which can vary in color and size. They thrive in humid forest environments, which Australia’s recent rain showers have provided with ease. 10-15% of all funnel-web spider bites are venomous. Despite this relatively low percentage, experts believe that all bites should be treated with caution. This is due to the high toxicity levels of the venom itself, which is fast-acting once it enters a human’s bloodstream.
This Mega-Sized Spider Makes a Mega Difference
While this deadly spider may bring fear to the public, park officials are excited about the discovery. The Australian Reptile Park has a very successful antivenom program. The park dedicates itself to utilizing raw venom as a lifesaving treatment for humans bitten or stung by venomous animals. With the antivenom saving up to 300 Australian lives per year, officials are hopeful that more donations like this could increase these rates.
“In my 30+ years at the Park, I have never seen a funnel-web spider this big,” Education Officer Michael Tate shares. “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.”
An unmarked Tupperware container was the vehicle for the donation of the mega-sized deadly spider. With multiple drop-off points located in the Sydney, Central Coast, and Newcastle areas, park officials are unsure where the arachnid came from. They are hoping that the donor will come forward so that more of the species can be found.
“We are really keen to find out where she came from in hopes to find more massive species like her,” Tate adds.
With or without the donor coming forward, the program relies on the public to continue catching these spiders. Because of this, the park is offering detailed resources to help Australians do this safely.