In a recent find on the Central Coast, about 80 km north of Sydney, a colossal male funnel web spider named “Hercules” has become the talk of the town. This arachnid, measuring an impressive 7.9 cm, is now the largest male funnel web spider ever recorded.
Meet “Hercules” – The Megaspider
Hercules, as it’s nicknamed at the Australian Reptile Park, is almost as large as the biggest female specimen found in 2021. Equipped with fangs that can pierce human nails, this spider holds the title of the world’s most venomous arachnid.
Hercules Finds Sanctuary at Australian Reptile Park
Discovered by a member of the public, Hercules now resides at the Australian Reptile Park. The park plans to utilize Hercules in their antivenom program, aimed at extracting venom from funnel web spiders to create lifesaving antivenom.
From Hospital to Spider Sanctuary
Originally taken to a local hospital, Hercules was later transferred to the Australian Reptile Park. Spider experts identified it as the largest male specimen ever received from the public in Australia, surpassing the previous record holder, “Colossus,” in 2018.
Australian Reptile Park’s Antivenom Program
The Australian Reptile Park has been running an “antivenom” program since 1981. The program involves extracting venom, known as “milking,” from funnel web spiders to develop antivenom and save lives. Hercules, with its impressive size, is expected to play a vital role in this life-saving initiative.
Hercules: A Unique Addition
Emma Teni, a staff member at the Australian Reptile Park, highlighted that while the park often receives sizable funnel web spiders, Hercules is the first male of such magnitude. Male funnel web spiders are known to be more lethal than females, making Hercules a valuable addition to the venom program.
A Record of Success
Remarkably, since the inception of the antivenom program in 1981, there has been no fatality in Australia from a funnel web spider bite. The program’s dedication to extracting venom and developing antivenom has proven to be a successful and crucial effort in saving lives.