As Australia continues to be devastated by deadly wildfires, residents are being warned by experts of a new danger: increased funnel-web spider activity.
Daniel Rumsey, spokesman of the Australian Reptile Park, explained in a recent Facebook video that the “current conditions” of the country, caused by drought and fires, encourage funnel-web spider breeding.
“Funnel- web spiders potentially are the most dangerous spiders on the planet in terms of a bite towards a human, so we have to treat it very seriously,” Rumsey added in the video.
The Australian Reptile Park has a “long history” working with the deadly spiders, Rumsey said, adding that the park has developed an anti-venom for those bit by female spiders.
However, the park hasn’t yet developed an anti-venom for bites from male spiders.
Rumsey encouraged adults to, if they can, safely capture funnel-web spiders and bring them to the reptile park. Both male and female funnel-web spiders are often all black or all brown and grow to 1 cm – 5 cm in body length, according to the Australian Museum, but females are often a bit bulkier than their male counterparts.
“Funnel-web spiders are very dangerous, but they are quite easy to catch,” Rumsey explained. “Because they are ground-dwelling spider, they can’t climb smooth surfaces like plastic or glass, so you’ll need some tools.”
Rumsey recommended keeping your hand about 20 centimeters from a funnel-web spider at all times, and to use a steel spoon to push the spider into a glass jar or plastic container.
RELATED VIDEO: Aircraft Drops Food on Bushfire Ravaged Australia for Starving Animals
In addition to the Australian Reptile Park, there are many drop-off centers in Australia that are also accepting captured funnel-web spiders, according to Rumsey.
If somebody is bitten by a funnel-web spider, Rumsey said that the treatment is the same one used for front-venomous snake bites.
“It’s pressure immobilization treatment. You immobilize the limb, you apply a bandage and of course you seek immediate medical attention,” Rumsey said.
He also noted that there has not been a death from a funnel-web spider bite since the early 1990s.