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17 Jan, 2018 14:31

Venomous spiders earmarked for ‘milking’ escape egg sack in spine-chilling video

Venomous spiders earmarked for ‘milking’ escape egg sack in spine-chilling video

Discovering a sac filled with hundreds of spiders typically elicits a fight or flight response from most sane people – but wildlife experts in Australia are asking the public to capture the critters so they can be milked.

One resident from Matcham on the New South Wales Central Coast fought all of his survival instincts and decided to take an egg sac of highly aggressive, highly venomous funnel web spiders to his local wildlife reserve, The Australian Reptile Park, which subsequently filmed the moment the cluster broke forth into the world. Arachnophobes look away now.

"We can only use the male Sydney funnel web's venom to make the anti-venom," Australian Reptile Park's head of spiders, Kane Christensen, said as cited by ABC News. "It's peak breeding season right now as males wander searching for females," he said. The Australian Reptile Park is the only place in Australia that milks funnel webs for their venom, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Funnel web spiders are found across Australia but there are regional variations, which include the severity of the bite. It can cause serious injury and even death if left untreated. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, symptoms include, but are not limited to: Hyper salivation, muscular spasms, difficulty breathing, numbness, disorientation and confusion leading to unconsciousness.

Young spiders captured and handed in to the park are grown until maturity and are then milked for their venom which is sent away and injected into rabbits. Once the rabbits develop an immunity, their plasma is harvested to create anti-venom for humans.

Funnel webs are known to hide in discreet places such as the inside of shoes, laundry baskets, pool skimmers etc. Their eggs are white sacs, roughly the size of a golf ball that typically contain about 100 infant spiders. If you come across one, be careful, the mother is likely to be very nearby.

"The mother will sit on the egg the whole time," Christensen said. "Ring the local wildlife park and see if there is any research collection points," he said.

The venom from a funnel web bite is potentially life threatening, so if you’re bitten, Christensen advises staying still and calm (easier said than done), applying pressure to the area and calling an ambulance for transport and treatment.

"Stay as still as possible. Any walking around or moving is further distributing that venom around your body," Christensen said.

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