In a fortunate discovery on the Central Coast, approximately 50 miles north of Sydney, a male Sydney funnel-web spider, named "Hercules," has found a new home at the Australian Reptile Park. With fangs capable of piercing a human fingernail, Hercules is recognized as the largest male specimen of the world's most venomous arachnid. Originally handed over to a local hospital by a member of the public, spider experts from the Australian Reptile Park retrieved Hercules, realizing it to be the largest male specimen ever received from the public in Australia.
Measuring an impressive 7.9 centimeters (3.1 inches) from foot to foot, Hercules surpassed the park’s previous record-holder from 2018, the male funnel-web named "Colossus," indicating the exceptional size of this venomous spider. Typically, Sydney funnel-web spiders range from one to five centimeters in length, with females being larger but less venomous than males. Found in forested areas and suburban gardens from Sydney to Newcastle in the north and the Blue Mountains to the west, these spiders pose a threat due to their potent venom.
Contributing to Antivenom Program
Hercules will play a crucial role in the Australian Reptile Park’s antivenom program. Spiders like Hercules, safely captured and handed in by the public, undergo "milking" to extract venom. This venom is essential for producing life-saving antivenom. Emma Teni, a spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park, expressed excitement, stating, "While female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be more lethal. With a male funnel-web this size in our collection, his venom output could be enormous, proving incredibly valuable for the park’s venom program."
Despite the recent favorable weather conditions, including rainy and humid weather along Australia's east coast, creating ideal conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive, the antivenom program has been successful in preventing fatalities from funnel-web spider bites since its inception in 1981.