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Largest specimen of world's most venomous spider found in Australia

The funnel-web spider, named Hercules, was donated to the Australian Reptile Park to help save lives by contributing the park's antivenom program.
Largest specimen of world's most venomous spider found in Australia
Posted at 7:10 AM, Jan 05, 2024

With fangs that can pierce a human fingernail, the largest male specimen of the world's most venomous arachnid has found a new home at the Australian Reptile Park, where it will help save lives after a member of the public discovered it by chance.

The deadly Sydney funnel-web spider dubbed Hercules was found on the Central Coast, about 50 miles north of Sydney, and was initially given to a local hospital, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement Thursday.

Spider experts from the nearby park retrieved it and soon realized it was the largest male specimen ever received from the public in Australia.

The spider measured 3.1 inches from foot to foot, surpassing the park’s previous record-holder from 2018, the male funnel-web named Colossus.

Sydney funnel-web spiders usually range in length from 1 to 5 centimeters, with females being generally larger than their male counterparts but not as deadly. They are predominantly found in forested areas and suburban gardens from Sydney, Australia's most populous city, to the coastal city of Newcastle in the north and the Blue Mountains to the west.

Hercules will contribute to the reptile park’s antivenom program. Safely captured spiders handed in by the public undergo “milking” to extract venom, essential for producing life-saving antivenom.

"We’re used to having pretty big funnel-web spiders donated to the park, however receiving a male funnel-web this big is like hitting the jackpot,” said Emma Teni, a spider keeper at Australian Reptile Park. “Whilst female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be more lethal.

"With having a male funnel-web this size in our collection, his venom output could be enormous, proving incredibly valuable for the park’s venom program.”

Since the inception of the program in 1981, there has not been a fatality in Australia from a funnel-web spider bite.

Recent rainy, humid weather along Australia's east coast has provided the ideal conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive.

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