A giant male Sydney funnel-web spider has been captured north of Sydney. Now the little man must help save lives.
Australian Sydney funnel-webs are the most venomous spiders in the world. Men are especially vulnerable. Now a record sample has been caught – and it could help save lives in the future.
A giant male Sydney funnel-web spider has been found north of Sydney. The dreaded Sydney funnel-webs, as they are called in their homeland, are one of the most venomous spider species in the world and can kill a person within an hour. The specimen, named Hercules, measured 7.9 centimeters from tip to toe, beating the previous record holder, Colossus, the Australian “Guardian” reported on Friday, citing the Australian Reptile Park.
Colossus was caught in 2018 and was a millimeter smaller. Both animals were handed over to a reptile park north of Sydney. Typically, the infamous eight-legged creatures are only one to five centimeters tall, with females clearly towering over males. The largest female ever discovered, a so-called megaspider, measured just over eight centimeters.
The poison for the antidote
The park is the only place in Australia where male birds are milked for their venom, known as an antidote. The reason: Males have five to six times more venom than females—and their venom is especially suited to producing a life-saving antidote.
“We donate very large funnel webs to the park, but to get such a large male funnel web spider is like hitting the jackpot,” said spider expert Emma Denny. The sample's venom output is expected to be huge and “incredibly valuable” to the park's antivenom program.
There are 36 species of funnel-web spiders. The male of the Sydney species (Atrax robustus), found within 160 kilometers of the Australian metropolis, is the most dangerous – and, along with the Brazilian wandering spider, is listed in the “Guinness Book” as the most venomous. Spider in the world. Since the Reptile Park's program began in 1981, there have been no animal bite deaths in Australia.