Exotic spider found in shipment of chairs that arrived in UK from China

A Huntsman spider is venomous but not harmful to humans.
A Huntsman spider is venomous but not harmful to humans.

An exotic spider that can grow up to 30cm in leg span was found in a shipment of chairs that arrived in the UK from China.

The RSPCA was called to a warehouse in Southwold in Suffolk where the Huntsman spider was found in a container on Thursday.

The species is venomous but it is not harmful to humans.

RSPCA inspector Jason Finch said: “Huntsman spiders can grow up to 30cm in leg span so are a large variety.

“This spider was on the smaller side and was only around 6cm from leg to leg.

“He’d obviously been in the container for some time, without access to food and water, but he was still active and seemed to be OK.”

The arachnid was taken to a specialist facility where it will be taken care of.

“Finding an exotic spider, insect or reptile in a shipping or removal container actually happens quite often,” said Mr Finch.

“These creatures are often picked up by mistake and end up being shut inside containers or boxes.

“Huntsman spiders are venomous but are not dangerous to people although they can give a nasty bite so we would always advise caution around them.

“We always advise treating any unidentified animal with caution until identified accurately and not to try to handle an accidentally imported animal that has been discovered.”

Huntsman spiders do not build webs to catch their prey, they hunt them down.

They originate in parts of Australasia, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and the Americas, and the giant variety, Heteropoda maxima, can grow to up to 30cm in leg span.

As these spiders are not native to the UK it would be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release them, or to allow them to escape into the wild.