Funnel-web spiders come out to play amid perfect weather conditions

Source: Australian Reptile Park

Australians have been put on notice as recent humid weather has the funnel-web spider, one of the world’s most deadly arachnids, come out of hiding.

The Australian Reptile Park has urged Sydneysiders in particular to exercise caution as recent weather has created the perfect conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive throughout the Greater Sydney region.

Jake Meney, head of reptiles & spiders at the Australian Reptile Park, told The New Daily that while there aren’t necessarily more funnel-webs this year, Australians will be spotting more of them.

Male funnel-webs will be the most active as they hunt for female partners for the mating season, which usually lasts between October and April.

The males are also the most dangerous.

“The male is the more toxic of the two even though he’s smaller, and they’re regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous spiders,” Mr Meney said.

“They have very toxic venom, and they’re certainly capable of killing a human in a very short space of time.”

If you want to avoid any nasty surprises, Mr Meney said it’s best to keep a tidy home and yard.

“Funnel-webs love to hide out during the day in things like shoes and piles of clothing and piles of wood,” he said.

“If [people are] not having big piles of wood and tin and rubbish in their back yard, and they’re not leaving shoes out on the back deck or something like that, it’s not a very enticing place for the funnel-web because it hasn’t got anywhere to hide.”

Catch a funnel-web, save a life

Fortunately, there have been no deaths from confirmed spider bites in Australia since 1979, largely thanks to the development of anti-venoms.

To help with the production of lifesaving anti-venom, the Australian Reptile Park is asking Sydneysiders to capture funnel-webs they spot in the Greater Sydney Region and hand them in.

The Australian Reptile Park is the only facility in Australia to milk funnel-webs for the venom necessary to counteract their deadly bite.

Mr Meney said 150 spiders need to be milked to make one vial of anti-venom.

As funnel-webs are runners, not jumpers, he said it’s best to urge them into a large jar.

“Try to encourage the spider into it using something like a 30-centimetre ruler or a large spoon,” he said.

“These spiders, whilst they are so dangerous, they can’t jump and they can’t climb.

“So if they’re running on the ground, you can quite literally put the jar in front of them, and they’ll walk straight into it.”

Wet and warm weather brings critters out

Funnel-webs are not the only creatures getting out and about to enjoy the wet and warm weather; mosquitoes, snakes and other reptiles are also getting more active.

“This year in particular, just with the extreme amount of rain that we’ve had, it’s going to be a very, very big summer for spider activity and likely other critters as well,” Mr Meney said.

“Across the board wildlife are looking for the opportunity to move around, now that we’ve had all this wet weather and we’re finally seeing some sun.

“People are probably more likely to encounter encounter things like snakes and lizards and other insects at this time of year.”

He said people should be aware of the situation, but not afraid.

“[These animals] certainly don’t want to have anything to do with us if they can help it, so people don’t need to be too alarmed.”

If you suspect you have been bitten by a venomous spider or snake, Mr Meney said the first thing you should do is apply a pressure immobilisation bandage around the entire limb to keep the venom from moving through your system too quickly, and to give you time to get to a hospital.


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