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article imageAustralians warned the wet weather brings out funnel-web spiders

By Karen Graham     Jan 22, 2020 in World
Somersby - After dust storms, hail and flash floods battered Australian cities in recent days, wildlife officials are warning residents against another natural threat: the venomous Australian funnel-web spider.
The Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, in New South Wales state, has warned the public through its Facebook page that recent wet weather, followed by hot days, has created "perfect conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive."
Native to the moist regions of Eastern Australia, there are more than 30 species of funnel-web spider but the Sydney funnel-web spider, atrax robustus, has the distinction of holding the Guinness World Record for the most venomous spider in the world.
"Because of the recent rain and now the hot days we are now experiencing, funnel-web spiders will start to move around," park spokesman Daniel Rumsey said in a video posted on Facebook, per CTV News Canada.
"Funnel-web spiders are potentially one of the most dangerous spiders on the planet, in terms of a bite towards humans, and we have to treat it very seriously."
Funnel Web Spider -  atrax robustus
Funnel Web Spider - atrax robustus
Doug Beckers (CC BY-SA 2.0)
At least 28 people have died in the worst bushfires Australia has seen in decades. The fires were followed by torrential rains, hail and flooding, which created new risks. Last week, parts of southeastern Australia were pelted by hailstones the size of golf balls, big enough to smash car windows and injure birds, less than 24 hours after the region was hit by massive dust storms.
The Australian Reptile Park welcomes the arrival of the deadly spiders, though. They are the only maker of funnel-web antivenom. They need the live spiders' venom. Since the anti-venom program began in the early 1980s, there has not been a single funnel-web related death since, reports The Guardian.
The funnel-webs have arrived later than usual, according to Warren Bailey, owner of ABC Pest Control Sydney. They usually come out in the summer, but Bailey says the hot, drought-like conditions over the past few months delayed the spider season late.
"Their venom is pretty toxic and can kill someone," he said. "The funnel-webs are now out with the recent rains, (and) they can go into people's houses on the ground or from the roof."
More about Australia, Sydney, funnelweb spiders, most dangerous on planet, perfect conditions
 
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