Thursday 22 August 2019

Venomous spider stows away in shipping container

The huntsman spider found in Dumbarton (Scottish SPCA/PA)
The huntsman spider found in Dumbarton (Scottish SPCA/PA)

Workers at a UK manufacturing firm have found a venomous tropical spider stowed inside a shipping container.

The huge arachnid was found at the company in Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, and concerned staff called animal welfare officers, fearing it could be poisonous.

Scottish SPCA officers removed the interloper, identified as a huntsman spider, which is common in most warm-to-tropical areas and can give a painful venomous bite.

Scottish SPCA Animal Rescue Officer Emma Bonner was called to the scene on Friday.

She said: " When I arrived one of the employees had managed to get the spider inside a clear bag within a container. We didn't know if it was venomous."

Scottish SPCA Chief Inspector Fiona Henderson said: "An arachnid expert identified it as a huntsman spider. We believe that due to a yellow stripe on its abdomen that the spider is female.

"It would be hard to say where it is from exactly due to the fact it arrived here in a shipping container.

"It must be a tough little spider as it has done well to survive living in a cold container for so long before arriving in Scotland.

"If a huntsman spider bites you it will not kill you, but it does contain venom. If you do get bitten by one it can be extremely painful.

"Because it's a huntsman it's not native to this country, so we can't release the spider anywhere in Scotland.

"Collectors would also be concerned due to the fact that it's a wild species. If there are any bacteria or bugs that the spider is carrying that we are not aware of then it could introduce those to other species.

"The spider appears in good condition and is already an adult so we are going to try to find a specialist home for it."

Arnold Bretman, development engineer at Aggreko Manufacturing, was brave enough to catch the spider.

He said: "It was about five inches across the legs, so fairly obvious that it was no ordinary local spider.

"It was scurrying around the factory and people were hopping around to avoid it, so I collected it.

"The Scottish SPCA girl turned up with a small plastic tub, but the spider was too big to fit.

"It was identified as a Chinese Huntsman that probably got into one of our containers in China, which had been at sea for at least a month. How it survived for that length of time and then in our climate, is amazing."

PA Media

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