Funnel web spiders wanted
Ranger Mick from the Australian Reptile Park talks about how to catch and send in the Australian funnel web spider so the park can create antivenom.PT2M6S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-22c5h 620 349 July 19, 2012
An unseasonable warm winter has stirred one of the world's most venomous creatures from its burrow.
Funnel-web spiders, which usually lie dormant in the winter ground, have been awakened by the warmth of the sun, said Mick Craig, the reptile and spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park on the central coast.
''It's a bit weird,'' he said. ''We've been getting them continually from members of the public. There's usually a lull [in winter] but right now, we're getting a couple a week.''
Venomous: A female funnel-web spider. Photo: Nick Moir
The park recently received a couple of females and a couple of males from members of the public who'd caught them.
The park has also been given trapdoor and mouse spiders, which look like a funnel-web spider and have a nasty bite.
The park is the only facility in Australia to milk the funnel-web spiders for venom, which is then turned into antivenene by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Victoria.
The warmer winter is bringing out the funnel web spiders. Photo: Jacky Ghossein JGZ
Experts warn people to use extreme caution when dealing with the funnel-web spiders and watch a safety video featuring the park's educator, Michael Tate and made by Fairfax Media on how to trap them.
They also warn people to avoid using plastic containers because the funnel-web spider can bite through the plastic.
Bites by males of two large species, the Sydney funnel-web spider and northern tree funnel-web spider, have caused death, said the CSIRO.