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The largest male specimen of the world’s most venomous spider has been found in Australia

The deadly Sydney funnel-web spider dubbed ‘Hercules has found a new home at the Australian Reptile

Hercules spider found in Australia
In this Dec. 10, 2023 photo supplied by the Australian Reptile Park, a male specimen of the Sydney funnel-web spider has been found and donated to the Australian Reptile Park.Caitlin Vine (AP)

With fangs that could pierce a human fingernail, the largest male specimen of the world’s most venomous arachnid has found a new home at the Australian Reptile Park where it will help save lives after a member of the public discovered it by chance.

The deadly Sydney funnel-web spider dubbed Hercules was found on the Central Coast, about 50 miles north of Sydney, and was initially given to a local hospital, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement Thursday.

Spider experts from the nearby park retrieved it and soon realized it was the largest male specimen ever received from the public in Australia.

The spider measured 7.9 centimeters (3.1 inches) from foot to foot, surpassing the park’s previous record-holder from 2018, the male funnel-web named Colossus.

Sydney funnel-web spiders usually range in length from one to five centimeters, with females being generally larger than their male counterparts but not as deadly. They are predominantly found in forested areas and suburban gardens from Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, to the coastal city of Newcastle in the north and the Blue Mountains to the west.

Hercules will contribute to the reptile park’s antivenom program. Safely captured spiders handed in by the public undergo “milking” to extract venom, essential for producing life-saving antivenom.

“We’re used to having pretty big funnel-web spiders donated to the park, however receiving a male funnel-web this big is like hitting the jackpot,” said Emma Teni, a spider keeper at Australian Reptile Park. “Whilst female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be more lethal.

“With having a male funnel-web this size in our collection, his venom output could be enormous, proving incredibly valuable for the park’s venom program.”

Since the inception of the program in 1981, there has not been a fatality in Australia from a funnel-web spider bite.

Recent rainy, humid weather along Australia’s east coast has provided the ideal conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive.

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