Finding a spider in an unexpected place is bad enough, but when that spider is as big as your hand, you call in the professionals. That’s what happened to a man in Kent, England. He found one of the world’s largest species of arachnid clinging to the side of his brick home. The chilling spider was about double the size of any spider native to the area, and he called the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) for help.
Officer Louise Horton was called to the scene, but she assumed she was there for a joke. She expected to find an average house spider and be on her way. But what she actually found was a massive eight-legged insect that was a long way from home. Huntsman spiders are native to Australia and prefer the dry temperatures of the outback. How one made it across the world to England is still a mystery.
After realizing the spider’s size was no joke, Officer Horton calmly contained the huntsman and transported it to Heathrow’s Animal Reception Center for quarantine. While uncomfortably large, the wayward spider is not yet full grown. Horton describes it as being the size of her hand, but as huntsman spiders go, it’s smalll for its species.
While seriously scary to look at, huntsman spiders are relatively harmless to humans. Their bites are painful, but side effects are usually limited to localized swelling and tenderness. The venom of a particularity large specimen may cause vomiting and heart palpitation, but they’re considered to be “low risk” and “non-aggressive” members of the arachnid family tree.
Finding a huntsman lurking somewhere nearby may not be life threatening, but their massive size is enough to send most people into panic. Full-grown males can have legs up to 12 inches long, and they’ve been seen dragging prey as big as mice into their hiding places. In Australia, the giant spiders are easy to find. Their big appetites are great for pest control, and many gardeners keep them around to eat crickets, cockroaches, and other insects.
Experts are in the process of learning more about how exactly the huntsman currently held by RSPCA found its way to Kent. They also encourage everyone to do as this homeowner did and call the pros if you ever find an animal you’re not sure what to do with.