FUNNEL web spiders lurking in bathrooms and laundries need to be carefully captured for a very special cause.
Their venom is the key ingredient in the anti-venom that saves more than 300 lives in Australia every year, and for the first time in decades, Hunter residents can help save lives by dropping off the creatures at the only designated place in Newcastle – John Hunter Hospital.
The spiders will be housed at the hospital and then taken to the Australian Reptile Park where the males will have their venom milked weekly and the females will become part of the park’s education program.
Ranger Mick Tate said the park needed as many male funnel webs as possible and almost all those found around the house would be males because the females did not venture far from their burrows in the ground. “The males will dehydrate and die if they are in the sun for a few minutes, so if they are between burrows, they will look for a damp and moist place to hide,” he said.
It was best to place a jar on top of the spider if it was moving, or place it near a moving spider, he said.
The venom is sent to CSL Bio where it is injected into rabbits because they develop antibodies quickly. The anti-venom is then sent to hospitals across the country.
There hasn’t been a death from a funnel web since 1980. The quickest death without anti-venom was recorded as 13 minutes. The longest time for an adult to survive without anti-venom is 75 minutes.
Visit australianreptilepark.com.au for more information.