Antivenom researchers are excited to start working with Hercules, the largest male funnel-web spider discovered to date! This big boy was spotted on the Central Coast and eventually donated to the Australian Reptile Park. Experts soon revealed that, with a foot to foot measurement of 3.1 inches, he’s the largest male specimen they’ve ever received! As part of the antivenom program, researchers will use Hercules’s venom to save bite victims.
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“We’re used to having pretty big funnel-web spiders donated to the park, however receiving a male funnel-web this big is like hitting the jackpot,” said spider keeper Emma Teni, according to the Associated Press. “Whilst female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be more lethal.”
She explained that a big spider like Hercules would be a great asset to researchers.
“With having a male funnel-web this size in our collection, his venom output could be enormous, proving incredibly valuable for the park’s venom program,” she said.
Funnel-web spiders are named after the shape of their webs, which they typically build in holes. Females are usually larger, but males are deadlier. Before an antivenom was created in 1981, these eight-legged creatures killed 13 people in Australia. Thankfully, no further deaths have been recorded.
Hercules the spider and other funnel-webs are “misunderstood.”
It’s scary to think of a huge spider like Hercules lurking in a dark burrow, but PHD Candidate Linda Hernández Duran of James Cook University believes these arachnids aren’t as dangerous as we assume. Although their venom can certainly be deadly, they don’t typically attack unless it’s absolutely necessary.
“Funnel-web spiders are misunderstood animals,” she said. “They are reactive depending on the level of risk they face, but they are not naturally aggressive, and they typically use venom as a last resort when threatened.”
People are often afraid of spiders, even though they provide so many valuable services to our environment. Some of them are even quite friendly, as one woman demonstrated with her pet arachnid. We’re so grateful for the researchers out there learning more about these eight-legged wonders!
You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.
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