Central Coast residents should be on the lookout for deadly funnel web spiders in the wake of heavy rains over the past week.
That’s the warning from the Australian Reptile Park at Somersby, which says the heavy rains, followed by several days of high heat, will create perfect conditions for the spiders to thrive.
Reptiles and Spider keeper, Jake Meney, said the public needs to remain vigilant, aware and safe when dealing with funnel webs.
“It’s important that Australians are across the correct first aid and know how to safely catch the spiders so that we can continue to milk them and save lives,” Meney said.
“We rely on public donations of funnel web spiders to build up our milking individuals.”
“If you are an adult and feel safe to do so, please catch the funnel webs using a big glass jar.
“Keeping your hands away from the spider, coax it into the jar using a long stick and bring it to us at the Australian Reptile Park or one of our drop-off points on the Central Coast.
“Funnel webs cannot climb up glass or plastic so once you put the lid on tightly, the funnel web can’t get out.”
Meney said Sydney funnel webs prefer to make their home in sheltered, shady spots, which are always cool and humid.
Their natural habitats are rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests, but the shaded areas of well vegetated private gardens are also readily colonised.
When found inside homes, they are usually in cool, damp places like the laundry, garage or in shoes left out on the ground, he said.
If someone is bitten by a spider, they should be kept calm and a pressure immobilisation bandage should be applied.
This should be the same tension/tightness as for a sprain.
Wrap the bandage around the bite site three times and then wrap the rest of the limb.
The person should be taken to hospital as quickly as possible.
The Reptile Park is the sole supplier of funnel web spider venom to make into antivenom.
The anti-venom program has saved countless Australian lives since its inception in the early 1980s.
There has not been a single death from a funnel web bite since the introduction of the program.
Media release, Jan 22
Australian Reptile Park
Australian Reptile Park website, Jan 22