The recent warm weather coupled with consistent rain in New South Wales has seen a surge in funnel-web spiders in and around residential areas. The Australian Reptile Park is urging residents to educate themselves on how to safely catch and secure a funnel-web spider and take it to either the Australian Reptile Park itself or one of the allocated drop off points so the spiders can be used in the Park’s lifesaving antivenom program. The Australian Reptile Park is experiencing a low in numbers of the crucial funnel web spiders at the park and is heavily reminding the public to safely catch them and take them to one of the many drop off points.
The Australian Reptile Park in recent weeks has seen a spike in numbers of spiders handed in to the Park, indicating that the deadly spiders are very much out and about. However, the numbers are still low in comparison to what has been handed in during previous years.
To highlight the importance of the need for funnel web spiders, Reptile and Spider Keeper, Jake Meney, comments “The Australian Reptile Park is the only place in Australia that milks funnel web spider venom to make into antivenom. Before the antivenom was developed 33 years ago, there were 13 recorded deaths in NSW by funnel-webs, but there have been zero fatalities since the development of the antivenom in 1981.
“Summer is funnel web season, so now is the time people will be seeing funnel webs more and more” noted Meney. “We need to public to assist us with bringing funnel web spiders to the Australian Reptile Park,” he continued.
Meney adds, “If you are an adult and feel safe to do so, please catch the funnel webs using a big glass jar and keeping your hands away from the spider, coax the spider into the jar and bring it to us or one of our drop-off points – you will literally be helping us save lives. We have videos on our website, Facebook page and YouTube channel showing people how to safely catch funnel web spiders and the list for drop off points can be found on our website.”
It is also important Australians know the correct first aid treatment for a funnel web spider bite, as this can be what ultimately saves the victims life. If a member of the public was to be bitten by a funnel-web spider, Meney says “Stay as calm as possible and apply the correct first aid, which is a pressure immobilisation bandage and get to hospital as fast as you possibly can.”
Funnel web spiders are milked every day at the Australian Reptile Park where lucky visitors get the opportunity to see the milking process firsthand. This raw venom is then sent to Seqirus in Melbourne where it is turned into lifesaving antivenom.