While most people think that the Sydney funnel web isn’t the nicest type of creature (it’s the most venomous aggressive spider in the world), the Australian Reptile Park is the only place in the world where you can see the spiders being milked.

If there’s one thing Australia is famous for it’s the myriad of lethal creatures that live here. So it will come as no surprise to hear that we host what’s generally considered the most venomous aggressive spider in the world, the funnel web. There are more than 40 varieties of funnel web here (as well as a couple of non-toxic pretenders in North and South America), but the northern funnel web has the most toxic venom of them all. It’s rarely found near populated areas, so its almost as deadly cousin, the Sydney funnel web, is classed as the more dangerous of the two. Its venom has neurotoxins that attack the human nervous system, which in severe cases can result in death – although since the introduction of antivenoms there have been none from funnel web bites.

With a glossy, dark brown to black body up to 5cm long (not including legs), they’re not the most pleasant looking things (to most people). But those who actually enjoy watching them crawl about their business can head to Australian Reptile Park – the only place in the world where the Sydney funnel web is milked. The venom is then sent off to the Commonwealth Serum Labs to become antivenom. Besides the daily milking show put on by the park, a large window displays feeding and venom extraction in the spider lab. Yuk.

Where // Australian Reptile Park, Somersby, NSW Central Coast. (02) 4340 1022, www.reptilepark.com.au

Did you know? // Even though male funnel webs are the more dangerous, with venom six times as toxic as females, they don’t get the upper hand in the relationship. After mating, when the male funnel web is totally exhausted, the female bites him to death, sucking whatever she finds eatable out of his body.


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