As bush fires lose steam, a wave of deadly funnel spiders is swarming Australia – and experts say, it could actually be a good thing

As bush fires lose steam, a wave of deadly funnel spiders is swarming Australia – and experts say, it could actually be a good thing

The Australian Reptile Park sees this as a huge opportunity

VicesJanuary 27, 2020

First, the land was scorched: animals were burned alive, people lost their homes and even their lives, and firefighters worked weeks and months on end to battle the flames.

Then, fortunately, rain began to douse the massive Australian wildfires that have shocked and unnerved the world since last fall. But the hot days and wet weather have resulted in a spike in humidity — shepherding in, yet another peril: waves and waves of one of the most aggressive and poisonous spiders on the planet: the Australian funnel spider.

And according to Australian wildlife authorities, that arachnid eruption could actually turn out to be a good thing. In fact, they’re encouraging people to get out there and collect as many of these  fatally poisonous spiders as possible.

Yes, you read that right: anticipating a “bonanza” of funnel web spider sightings, representatives from the Australia Reptile Park have been urging residents who feel comfortable with it, to go capture as many of these super-deadly arachnids as they can and deposit them at pre-determined drop-off spots.

Australians are a funny bunch.

The funnel spider that the Reptile Park wants people to apprehend is known to scientists as the atrax robustus and it is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most venomous spider in the world. The spider’s neurotoxic venom causes agitation, anxiety, hypertension, generalized muscular twitching, irregular heart-beat, pulmonary edema and intravascular coagulation.

It fucks people up, in other words. You lose control of your muscles, your heart rate loses its tempo, and your blood turns to jelly inside your veins. The effects are reversible, but only if you get to a hospital ASAP and get the necessary anti-venom treatment.

Most people are bitten by these nasty bastards in the summer, when males come out of their burrows looking for female mates. They usually wander into people’s homes, into damp places like laundry or shoes left outside — and when they’re horny, funnel web spiders get extremely aggressive. 

Oh, and they’re huge. Male Sydney funnel-web spiders can grow to nine inches in length.

And now, as rain has finally started to put a damper on Australia’s out-of-control wildfire season, these massive, hyper-agro, super-venomous funnel-web spiders are expected to start emerging en masse. The land will crawl with ten-thousand legs as water floods the spiders’ burrows and forces the grumpy, horny males out of their homes and into people’s space.

Which, the Australian Reptile Park sees as a huge opportunity. These spiders can be very elusive most of the year. Making gathering the venom necessary to make the anti-venom used to treat victims of funnel spider bites, very difficult.

Now, though, as these things swarm the countryside, scientists at the park see their chance to really stock up on the stuff.

That’s why the park is actually encouraging Australians who live in the area to capture the deadly arachnids, should they come across them. They suggest that anyone who feels comfortable capturing funnel spiders, do so: grab a glass jar or plastic cup and a long stick. Coax the spider into the jar with the stick and trap the thing.

“Funnel-webs cannot climb up glass or plastic so once you put the lid on tightly, the funnel web can’t get out,” the park assures.

Any funnel web spiders captured can be dropped off at the Australian Reptile Park, or at specified drop-off points around Sydney, the Central Coast or Newcastle. Their venom will then be extracted, and will provide life-saving anti-venom for anyone who might get bitten down the road.

So, while the optics of this explosion of massive funnel web spiders might look terrifying and unfortunate on the surface, it could actually be something of a life saver.