FOR arachnophobes, Huntsman spiders are the stuff of nightmares – eight-legged monsters that eat cockroaches and grow up to a FOOT in length.
We take a look at the plate-sized spiders and examine if they can be found in the UK, whether or not they bite, and if they can kill you.
The plate-sized spiders hunt for their food and feast on a diet of lizards and insects[/caption]
What are Huntsman spiders and how big do they get?
Huntsman spiders are renowned for the enormous size, with males able to achieve a leg span of between 10 and 12 inches.
They are sometimes called giant crab spiders or wood spiders because they like to live in woody areas such as forests, sheds, and woodpiles.
Huntsman spiders are members of the Sprassidae of which there are more than 1,000 species.
They live in warm tropical climates across the world in places such as Australasia, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Mediterranean Basin.
They are common in Australia but have been introduced accidentally to parts of the USA, Pakistan, India, China, and Japan.
Adult Huntsman spiders do not build webs but forage for food.
Their diet mainly consists of insects but they are also known to eat small reptiles such as skinks and gekkos.
In Australia a huntsman spider was seen dragging a dead mouse up the side of a fridge.
Photos of a terrifying Huntsman spider took the internet by storm in 2016, after the critter was found on a farm in Queensland, Australia.
And people’s fears have been reignited after a monster spider the size of a dinner plate went on the loose in a terrified couple’s home in Queensland on July 23, 2017.
Huntsman spiders use venom to stun their prey and to aid in digestion.
Are there huntsman spiders in the UK?
The enormous creepy crawlies need warm temperatures to survive and so they are not found in the wild in the UK.
In July 2017, a huge 18cm beast was discovered lurking in a shipping container at a removals firm in Mertsam, Surrey.
The spider had hitched a ride with a family’s belongings from Brisbane, Australia, to the UK.
In January 2017, an enormous Huntsman was found in a shipping container in Suffolk.
The 12cm long eight-legged beast arrived here from Japan, the BBC reported.
In September 2016, a plate-sized Huntsman ended up in Scotland via a shipping container from China.
Lauren Ansell found this massive spider at her house in Queensland[/caption]
Do they bite?
Huntsman spiders are known to inflict a defensive bite if provoked by humans or other animals.
Mothers have been known to bite while defending their eggs.
Adult huntsman spiders do not build webs but forage for food and use venom to stun their prey.
HUNTSMAN SPIDERS: THE COLOSSAL CREEPY-CRAWLY THAT LOVES TO INVADE HOMES
These massive, crab-like spiders can have a leg span of up to 25 to 30cm.
They normally live in small gaps in tree bark, but frequently wander into homes and cars in search of food. They move at lightning speed, can walk on walls and even ceilings, and jump huge distances suddenly.
Unlike other types of spider, they go out to stalk and kill their prey instead of spinning webs, feasting on insects and small animals like mice and lizards.
You don’t want to make a mummy huntsman angry – they defend their young fiercely, attacking and biting those who threaten them.
If they’re touched, they have a “cling” reflex and will hang on tightly. Shaking them off doesn’t work, but does make them angry and likely to bite.
Although usually found in the Southern Hemisphere, they have been known to stow away in cargo and arrive unexpectedly in Europe. They wouldn’t last long in the winter cold of the UK though.
Despite their scary appearance and aggression, they shouldn’t cause too much alarm – their venom isn’t deadly to humans, although it has been known to cause headaches, vomiting, and heart palpitations.
Can Huntsman spiders kill humans?
Huntsman spiders have been known to bite people but they are not generally regarded as being a danger to humans.
They are often held in high regard because they get rid of cockroaches and crickets.
The effects of bites have varied.
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Some people have suffered local swelling and pain – sometimes accompanied with nausea, headaches, vomiting, irregular pulse rate, and heart palpitations.
However an investigation into spider bites in Australia, in which Huntmans featured prominently, did not show any serious consequences of being bitten.
There are no reports of deaths from Huntsman spider bites.
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