Animals

Sac Full of Deadly Spiders Opened and Milked for Venom

These Australian funnel web spiders were found in a garden and brought to a zoo, where they will help scientists develop life-saving drugs.Tuesday, 23 January 2018

By Lulu Morris
Milking This Deadly Spider Can Save Lives
Milking This Deadly Spider Can Save Lives
This tiny egg sac contains a deadly surprise—baby funnel web spiders. They are Australia’s most dangerous spider, extremely venomous and aggressive towards humans. But, they can be milked to create anti-venom to treat anyone unfortunate enough to receive a bite. After identification, the egg sac was brought to the Australian Reptile Park, the only facility in Australia able to extract the venom. The spiders will be kept in the park and added to the milking program.

When a Newcastle, Australia, resident discovered a strange sac in their garden, they had no idea it would contain hundreds of the country's most venomous spiders.

The unusual-looking object was promptly taken to the Australian Reptile Park for further investigation. The zoo is on the Central Coast of New South Wales, about an hour from Newcastle and Sydney.

After inspection, it took no time for Kane Christensen, head of spiders at the reptile park, to identify the strange sac as a funnel web egg.

Australia’s most dangerous spider, a funnel web is not only venomous but has a reputation for being aggressive. Each egg contains around 100 spiders.

For the reptile park, the sac was a blessing as the zoo is the only place in Australia that milks funnel webs for their venom, to make anti-venom. (Related: 18 Spider-Killing Spiders Discovered—And They Look Like Pelicans.)

The park relies on the public to provide them with captured funnel web spiders. The new funnel web spiders will be kept in the zoo and will be added in to the park's milking program. 

This article was previously published by National Geographic Australia and has been lightly edited.
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