On Thursday 12th July glass pots containing Brazilian bird eating spiders (Lasiodora parahybana) were dumped in a car park in Somercotes, near Alfreton. The pot containing immature spiders was intact but two other pots, thought to contain their larger parents, were run over and broken. The spiders they contained were not killed by the incident, and the driver reports seeing two large spiders escape. They have not been found and are believed to be on the loose in Somercotes.
The salmon pink hairy tarantulas are the third largest spiders in the world and their leg span can reach 11 inches. They have fangs whose bite has been compared to a cat bite, and they are not only venomous, but the barbed hairs on their body also irritate skin (and blind if they get into eyes), and they flick these hairs at targets when threatened. They are not a threat to life, as their venom is not much stronger than a wasp sting to a human. Obviously that venom will be stronger on smaller creatures.
These spiders are very territorial, but when threatened they also rub their legs together to create a sound similar to hissing as a warning to get away. They are burrowing spiders who live underground and prefer wet swampy ground. It is thought that they will not survive in a British climate once temperatures drop, which is little comfort whilst they remain high. They eat insects, lizards, rodents and birds, although there is little evidence that they regularly eat birds.
A thorough search of nearby Birchwood Boarding Kennels and Cattery is being undertaken as the spiders pose a significant risk to the animals if they are there.
The RSPCA have said that it is likely that the spiders were unwanted pets and encouraged people to throughly research tarantulas before choosing to have them as pets. The immature bird eating spiders have been taken to the Arnold and Carlton Veterinary Centre, and will be rehomed.
We could not find any information on how far these spiders are likely to travel, if at all.
Advice to the public from the RSPCA is to not approach or try to pick up the tarantulas, but to keep an eye on them and phone the RSPCA for assistance.
It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to release or allow to escape any non-native species into the wild. Anyone with information on who dumped the spiders, or their current whereabouts, should contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.