Recent rainy weather combined with intensely humid weather has provided the perfect conditions for funnel web spiders to thrive. This week, the Australian Reptile Park received the BIGGEST funnel web spider they have ever had donated to the program that keepers have dubbed MEGASPIDER. Measuring in at 8cm (the average size is 1-5cm) with fangs that are almost 2cm in length, this sizable spider could bite through a human fingernail.
The Australian Reptile Park regularly encourages members of the public to SAFELY catch funnel web spiders for the Park’s antivenom program. Spiders that have been handed in participate in the vital lifesaving milking program. The venom milked by staff is turned into antivenom which saves up to 300 lives per year. The Australian Reptile Park is the only facility in Australia that milks funnel web spiders for their raw venom to be made into lifesaving antivenom.
The spider arrived to the Australian Reptile Park as a part of the weekly collection from all the drop off points around Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle. It was in a Tupperware container without any labels to signify where it came from. Keepers are eager to find out the area in which it came from with hopes of finding more of the large spiders as they produce larger amounts of venom for the antivenom program.
Commenting on the hand-in, Michael Tate, Education Officer of the Australian Reptile Park said, “Having MEGASPIDER handed into the venom program is so amazing, in my 30+ years at the Park, I have never seen a funnel web spider this 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.”
Speaking about the drop off points “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.”
The Australian Reptile Park relies on public donations of funnel web spiders to keep venom supplies ongoing. The funnel web spiders are milked weekly for their raw venom that is sent off to Seqirus in Melbourne to be made into lifesaving antivenom. The Australian Reptile Park is the only facility in Australia that milks the raw venom of the deadly funnel web spider to make into lifesaving antivenom. They also are the sole supplier of terrestrial snake venom to make into antivenom. The venom program is estimated to save up to 300 Australian lives per year and over 25,000 lives in total since it started in the 1950’s.
The Australian Reptile Park website features a safety and capture video online taking viewers through a step by step process in collection and delivery of a funnel web spider. See Spider First Aid and Drop off Zones online at www.reptilepark.com.au
Drop off points include:
|Brookevale Greencross Vets|
|Mona Vale Veterinary Hospital|
|Hawkesbury City Council|
|Symbio Wildlife Park|
|Central Coast –|
|Australian Reptile Park|
|Wyoming Veterinary Hospital|
|John Hunter Hospital|