The Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, New South Wales, has a new inhabitant. Named Colossus, the new member is the largest known male specimen of the funnel web spider, according to the park representatives.
The aggressive funnel web spider is among the deadliest spiders that exist, and its venomous bite is extremely deadly for the victim.
The dangerous Colossus, whose leg span measures three inches, has, however, been obtained for the purpose. The park officials want to milk the spider to help save future victims of funnel spider bites.
The Funnel Web Spider
Though it is a complicated process to rank spider toxicity, it is still claimed that that the funnel web spider is the most dangerous. The bite of a funnel web spider can kill a healthy adult human in just a day or even in shorter duration. The deadly venom of the spider can instantly attack the nervous system, causing sudden muscle contraction and foaming at the mouth.
What is worrisome is that funnel web spiders hang in close proximity to humans, especially during rains. Rains drive the creatures out of their burrows, so it is more common to see them or get bitten.
Since researchers began developing anti-venom, no one has died from the bite of funnel web spiders. Making anti-venom includes the process of milking off a spider's venom.
Officials from the Australian Reptile Park carefully handle the creature while using a pipette to touch the mouth of the spider and sucking up the venom ejected by it. Colossus will be used for the same process, and males like him are weekly milked at the park for their raw venom, which is made into a life-saving anti-venom at Seqirus in Melbourne.
Over 3,500 milkings were completed by the trained staff at the park last year, though they still require 5,000 more milkings to ensure that there is sufficient supply of anti-venom. The anti-venom serum has proved to useful. A boy bitten by a funnel web spider last year needed 12 vials of anti-venom to save him. He recovered by the next day, and the spider that bit him was used for the anti-venom program of the park.
"Stay as calm as possible and apply the correct first aid, which is a pressure immobilization bandage and get to hospital as fast as you possibly can," advised Liz Gabriel, who is the park's head curator, to victims of funnel web spider bites.