SYDNEY (AP) — With fangs that could pierce a human fingernail, the largest male specimen of the world's most venomous spider species has found a new home at the Australian Reptile Park where it will help save lives after being accidentally discovered by a member of the public. .
The deadly Sydney spider named “Hercules” was found on the Central Coast, about 50 miles north of Sydney, and was initially surrendered to a local hospital, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement on Thursday.
Spider experts recovered it from a nearby park and quickly realized it was the largest male specimen ever received from the public in Australia.
The spider measures 7.9 centimeters (3.1 inches) long from foot to foot, surpassing the previous record holder at the park from 2018, a male spider named “Colossus.”
Sydney funnel-web spiders typically range in length from one to five centimetres, with females generally being larger than their male counterparts but not as lethal. They are mostly found in woodland areas and suburban parks from Sydney, Australia's most populous city, to the coastal city of Newcastle in the north and the Blue Mountains in the west.
Hercules will contribute to the reptile park's poison control program. Safely captured spiders delivered by the public undergo “milking” to extract the venom, which is essential for the production of life-saving antivenom.
“We're used to donating very large funnel-web spiders to the park, but getting a male funnel-web this big is like hitting the jackpot,” said Emma Tinney, spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park. Web spiders are venomous, and males have been proven to be more deadly.
“With a male funnel web of this size in our collection, venom production can be enormous, proving incredibly valuable to the park’s poison program.”
Since the program's inception in 1981, there has been no death in Australia due to a funnel-web spider bite.
Recent wet and rainy weather along the east coast of Australia has provided ideal conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive.
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