Largest male funnel-web spider named ‘Hercules’ found north of Sydney | Spiders

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With fangs that could 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 he will help save lives after a member of the public discovered him by chance.

The potentially deadly Sydney funnel-web spider, nicknamed “Hercules”, was found on the Central Coast, about 80 kilometers north of Sydney, and was initially taken to a local hospital, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement.

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

The spider measures 7.9 cm (3.1 in) from foot to foot, surpassing the park’s previous record from 2018, the male funnel-web called “Colossus”.

The largest funnel-web spider donated to the Australian Reptile Park was a female measuring 8cm from foot to toe, comparable to a tarantula. It was found in 2021 and received the name “Megasaraña”.

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

funnel web spider
‘Hercules’ measures 7.9 cm (3.1 in) from foot to foot. Photograph: Caitlin Vine/AP

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

“We are used to quite large funnel-web spiders being donated to the park, however, receiving a male funnel-web of this size is like hitting the jackpot,” Emma Teni, spider keeper at the Australian Reptile, said on Thursday. Park.

“While female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be more lethal. By having a male funnel web of this size in our collection, its venom production could be enormous, which would prove incredibly valuable to the park’s venom program.”

Since the program’s inception in 1981, there have been no deaths in Australia from a funnel-web spider bite.

Recent wet and rainy weather along Australia’s east coast has provided ideal conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive.

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