BY JESSICA ROUSE

The bad news is the biggest funnel-web spiders are found in Newcastle, but the good news is The Australian Reptile Park want them.

Recent warm humid nights have the spiders scuttling, coming out of their
hiding places, leading to an increase in bites around the region.

The funnel-web spider anti-venom program at the Reptile Park is saving lives, creating anti-venom vaccines, but what they need from the public are the spiders themselves.

Male funnel-webs are milked for their venom and it takes 70 spiders for one injection of the vaccine.

The venom is far more toxic than a snake, and the milking process is particularly labour intensive and a dangerous task for keepers.

Ranger Mick Tate says a large collection of 500 spiders is ideal in order to keep up supply and there are significant challenges in getting such a large amount.

“Our role at the reptile park is to amass a very large collection of male funnel web spiders – they’re the ones we want, the very toxic one – and we perpetually milk them and our big issue is that the male funnel-webs only have a relatively short life span and live about four years and we can’t determine their sex until they’re about two and a half years old.”

The Reptile Park are calling on people in the Hunter region to send them any Funnel-web spiders they come across, by safely catching them and bringing them to a drop off zone.

The

park’s website

features a safety and capture video going through the step by step process of catching the spiders safely.

The best place to drop off captured funnel-web spiders is the John Hunter Hospital.



Image courtesy of The Australian Reptile Park:

Sydney funnel web spider