Supporting the Funnel Web spider antivenom program

Hawkesbury City Council is a Collection Point for Funnel Web spiders and other spiders, with Council’s Customer Service staff regularly accepting spider deliveries on behalf of the Australian Reptile Park on the Central Coast. This week, Customer Service staff have already received three funnel webs and one red back, and the spiders have been delivered to the Australian Reptile Park.

The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett said the current heatwave conditions and extreme humidity is increasing Funnel Web spider activity.

“According to the Australian Reptile Park, antivenom supplies are in danger of running low, with 2016 seeing the smallest amount of hand-ins in the park's history,” the Mayor said.

While this means more people need to be on the alert for potential bites and take care, the Australian Reptile Park staff say it also means there are more chances for people to help boost the supplies of life-saving Funnel Web antivenom.

Female Funnel Web spiders are milked of their venom as part of the antivenene manufacturing process at the Australian Reptile Park, the only wildlife sanctuary that milks the spiders in Australia.

The Australian Reptile Park is urging people to follow instructions on their website to safely capture the spiders as supporting the anti-venom program saves lives.

“It would also be helpful if our residents know to add some substrate in the form of moist dirt (preferred) or moist cotton wool balls to the glass jar prior to bringing them to any drop off point,” Councillor Mary Lyons- Buckett said added.

“A Funnel Web’s fangs can pierce right through cardboard or a plastic container such as an icecream or take away container, so please don’t bring them in plastic containers or cardboard boxes as they cannot be accepted.”

The Australian Reptile Park’s advice is to use a jar at least 10cm high, pierce the lid for air holes and don’t forget the moist soil/cottonwool, as the spider will die without moisture. While the Funnel Web is an aggressive spider, the expert Australian Reptile Park staff are also quite adamant that Funnel Web’s do not jump, contrary to popular belief. Please visit first-aid- drop- off-points for a video on how to safely capture a spider. Various drop off points are also listed on their website.

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