The influx of funnel web spiders donated to the Australian Reptile Park has given the park’s anti-venom program an unexpected boost.
- 12 funnel spiders caught by civilians after recent rains
- Australian Reptile Park says they will be used to create anti-venom
- Researchers say more research is needed to understand the difference between males (venomous) and females (non-venomous)
Twelve funnel webs (5 males, 5 females and 2 juveniles) captured by the public were dumped in jars recently at Hawkesbury City Council, north of Sydney.
Billy Collett, the park’s director of operations, said the donation suggested the spiders were unusually active despite the cold weather.
“Usually our peak is in the spring and summer, when the males run around chasing the girls,” Collett said. abc radio sydney.
He suspected that the recent weather had driven them out of their burrows.
“This is a win for us because we need as much venom as possible to produce enough for our anti-venom program here in Australia,” said Collett.
The park has about 500 male spiders participating in an anti-venom program, squeezing venom once a week. Females are less venomous and spend most of their lives in burrows.
“Easy” to catch
Colette advised people to catch spiders when they saw them crawling.
Many feared spiders, but Colette said they would be safe to catch.
“It’s really easy. They don’t jump like many people think,” he said.
“Basically, you just put a jar or cup on top of him, slip some paper or plastic under it, tilt it to hold it in place, make some holes in the lid, and put a little bit of damp dirt on it. .”
Sydney, Central Coast and Newcastle have a number of drop off points at veterinarians, hospitals and parliament.
There have been no deaths from spider bites since the park’s anti-venom program began in 1981.
need more education
The researchers called for caution, not because spiders posed a threat to humans, but the opposite.
Much is known about their venom, but little is known about the size and composition of native populations or their behavior.
Linda Hernandez-Durán of James Cook University recently completed her research. PhD on ‘Misunderstood’ Arachnidsfound that they were rarely aggressive.
“We have to leave them alone. They are not going to do any harm,” Dr. Hernandez-Durán said.
She said it was concerning to encourage people to hunt without understanding the impact on local populations.
“We don’t know anything about the biology, the status of the populations, whether they are different species, how they are dispersed,” Dr. Hernández-Durán said.
“And if we’re just catching and catching them to show they’re a threat to humans, that’s a big deal.”
She called for more public education so people could recognize toxic men and leave women and adolescents alone.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-05-12/funnel-web-spiders-boost-anti-venom-stocks/102335172 Funnel-web spiders unusually active in Sydney boost antivenom strain in Australian Reptile Park