Largest male funnel-web spider donated to Australian Reptile Park

The largest male funnel-web spider on record has been donated to a lifesaving antivenene program at the Australian Reptile Park (ARP).

Nicknamed ‘Hercules’, the spider measures 7.9 cm from toe to toe. In 2021, the park received an 8-cm female funnel-web spider dubbed ‘Megaspider’.

Funnel web spider next to a ruler on white background
Hercules next to a ruler. Credit: Australian Reptile Park (supplied).

Funnel-webs typically reach 1-5 cm. According to the Australian Museum, there are currently 36 described species of funnel-web which are found in the eastern part of the continent. Males are typically more lightly built than females.

Not all are dangerous, but several funnel-web species are known for their highly toxic and fast acting venom.

Hercules was bravely scooped up and delivered to an ARP drop-off point at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, regional New South Wales.

Most people would not be thrilled to receive a gigantic, venomous spider. For ARP keepers, it’s a different story.

“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,” says ARP’s Emma Teni.

“While female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be more lethal. 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.”

Female zoo keeper holding funnel-web spider in tupperware container at australian reptile park
Australian Reptile Park keeper, Emma Teni, holding Hercules. Credit: Australian Reptile Park (supplied).

“Every summer when the rains come out, the ground is wet, and it’s breeding season, males leave their burrows and they go wandering on a search for a female,” Olivia Christmas from Taronga Zoo in New South Wales told Cosmos in 2022. “So that’s why [you’re] more likely to get bitten by a male, because they’re the ones that are leaving the safety of their borrows.”

ARP’s Spider Venom Program was established in 1981. It assists in developing and producing funnel-web antivenom by “milking” its spiders. Since the program’s inception, zero deaths have been recorded due to funnel-web spiders.

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