In Nightmare News, Heavy Rains Are Causing A Surge In Funnel Web Spiders

Australians are being warned of an early start to the funnel web season.

The Australian Reptile Park issued the warning on Friday morning, explaining the explosion in the poisonous arachnids was due to recent heavy rains.

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The park milks funnel web spiders for their life-saving venom, which it then turns into anti-venom for the 30 to 40 people who are bitten by the deadly spider each year.

But it relies solely on members of the public catching and handing in funnel web spiders, which Daniel Rumsey said has been declining in the past few years.

"However, this large amount of spiders coming in [over] the last week is promising that this is turning around," he said.

"Should supplies diminish, the lifesaving antivenom program could very much be in jeopardy!"

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Funnel webs have been deemed responsible for 13 deaths, according to the Australian Museum, but none have been recorded since the anti-venom was developed in 1981.

They tend to hide in clutter around the garden, the Australian Reptile Park told ten daily, reportedly being found in timber or kids play equipment.

They've also been known to hide in swimming pools (surviving underwater for up to 24 hours by trapping air bubbles on hairs around their abdomen), and last year, a ten-year-old boy was bitten on the finger when he reached into his shoes.

It's advised that everyone keeps a pressure immobilisation at home to wrap firmly around the area and limb immediately if bitten, to stop the venom spreading to other parts of the body. Medical assistance should be sought immediately.

That being said, if you are bitten -- or if you just happen to come across a funnel web -- the park asks that you don't kill the spider, but rather follow their instructions to safely capture it and bring it to a collection point.

"We recommend a capture kit be included in a glass jar with air holes in the lid, and a plastic ruler to guide the spider into the jar for collection," said Rumsey.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: Australian Reptile Park