Burn It with Fire? This Spider Could Save Lives

Spiders scare us, grown ups and children alike. The tabloids are full of click bait headlines about the latest ‘deadly’ spider but what if a spider could save lives? According to Australian newspaper, The Herald Sun, a huge funnel spider caught in New South Wales is now in the custody of the Somersby Australian Reptile Park. The mother of all Arachnids named ‘Colossus’ is being tested as part of an anti venom program and it is hoped that this deadly creature will save lives rather than take them.

While UK tabloids prefer to concentrate on generating horror story headlines like ‘ Gigantic funnel web spider called Colossus packs enough venom to kill an adult in 15 MINUTES’ (The Mirror) and ‘Meet Colossus the king of giant funnel web spiders with fangs dripping with venom that could kill you in 15 minutes’ (The Sun), isn’t it better to learn about this subject with some objectivity? For this reason, the following article on the Interesting Engineering site entitled ‘What Everyone Must Know About the World’s Most Toxic Spider that was Recently Caught in Australia’ sheds some objective light on the new 8 legged discovery:

“The team that captured the male funnel web spider even gave it a perfectly fitting name for its massive size – Colossus. Colossus stretched out to an impressive leg span of 7.8 centimetres (3 inches). Most male funnel web spiders only make it between 1 to 5 centimetres in leg span.

But just how toxic are the funnel web spiders? Well, the bites are lethal to small children within minutes to possibly hours, if a child is lucky. For adults, death can come after 24 hours without treatment. The deadliest of the 35 funnel web spider species – the Sydney funnel web – can quickly kill an adult human.”

That’s the scary stuff but in the same article you find:

“However, there is a positive to this story. Since the funnel web spider is one among the most studied spiders in Australia, there have been no Australian fatalities after researchers developed an anti-venom.

And that’s precisely how the team at Australian Reptile Park leveraged their new find. Rather than killing the spider on sight (like many people naturally do with terrifying creatures), the team brought it in to be milked.”

It makes sense to be cautious and follow the advice contained in practical guides like this NHS post ‘UK insects that bite or sting’ which offers the following advice about deadly spiders:

“Don’t disturb spiders if you can help it – they tend to bite you only when they feel threatened.”

So next you see a spider, don’t ‘burn it with fire’, leave it alone and keep in mind that it can hold the cure for venom like ‘ Colossus’.

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