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Meet Colossus — the deadly funnel web spider now making anti-venom to save lives

Jamie Seidel, March 4, 2018 9:27PM news.com.au

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Don't be afraid of Colossus the funnel web spider as one day he could save your life. media_cameraDon't be afraid of Colossus the funnel web spider as one day he could save your life.

animals

Reading level: green

Meet Colossus …. an angry and deadly male funnel web spider who has venom* dripping from his fangs.

But don’t be afraid of him — one day he might save your life.

Colussus was captured on the NSW Central Coast last week and handed in to the nearby Australian Reptile Park in Somersby.

Colossus was captured on the NSW Central Coast last week. Picture: via Australian Reptile Park video media_cameraColossus was captured on the NSW Central Coast last week. Picture: via Australian Reptile Park video

Colossus is now the biggest male funnel web spider at the reptile sanctuary* and will become part of its anti-venom program, which helps up to 300 bite victims each year.

A reptile park spokesman said: “The male funnel web was named Colossus because of its massive size and also comes with quite the temper with venom dripping constantly* from his fangs when rearing up* at staff.”

Colossus is one of the deadliest types of funnel web spiders — just one of his bites could kill a human in 15 minutes.

Colossus’s large rear-facing fangs are strong enough to pierce toenails.

His venom interrupts the nervous system making the bite victim’s heart race and making it difficult to breathe. Victims also experience tingling around the mouth, twitching of the tongue, watery eyes and sweating.

But it’s important to remember that no one has died from a funnel web spider bite since 1981 when the anti-venom was introduced.

Colossus the funnel web spider is going to help produce anti-venom. media_cameraColossus the funnel web spider is going to help produce anti-venom.

And now Colossus is going to be saving lives rather than taking them as only male spiders can be milked.

A park spokesman said finding animals such as Colossus was important because funnel-web spiders only live for 12 months meaning the anti-venom program is always needing to replace its males.

The Australian Reptile Park’s venom milking team have completed 3500 milkings in the past year to help increase anti-venom stocks.

.Understanding first aid is important if you have been bitten by a spider. media_camera.Understanding first aid is important if you have been bitten by a spider.

FIRST AID

If you get bitten by a funnel web spider you should:

  • Apply a bandage and put firm pressure over the bite.
  • Keep the affected area still, if possible, to prevent the venom from spreading.
  • Loosen clothing and remove rings and other tight jewellry.
  • Seek medical help immediately.

GLOSSARY

venom: poison

sanctuary: somewhere safe from danger

constantly: always

rearing up: standing on the rear legs and lifting up

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

1. Information poster

Create an information poster about funnel web spiders. Your poster should include a heading, a sketch and three separate paragraphs of information you learnt from the article — each in your own words and with a sub-heading.

Extension: Practise presenting your poster and once you feel confident present it to an audience.

Time: Allow 40 minutes.

Curriculum links: English, Science

2. Your thoughts

Explain one thing about this news story that made you feel uncomfortable.

Explain one thing about this news story that you found reassuring.

What are your thoughts and feelings about spiders?

What do you think is the best course of action to take if you see a funnel web spider?

Write down two things that you would like to find out about funnel web spiders that aren’t already answered by the article.

Can you think of a good reason not to attempt to catch a funnel web spider?

Extension: Refer to the two things you wanted to find out (from number 5 in the above activity) and do some research to answer your questions.

Time: Allow 30 minutes for each activity.

Curriculum links: English, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many connectives as you can find in pink. Discuss if these are being used as conjunctions, or to join ideas and create flow.

Activity:

Download and print the 1-6 grid (see attached)

You will also need a dice between pairs.

Pick 6 different connectives to use in the next activity, try and pick some easy and some challenging ones.

Write a different connective in each of the 1-6 grid spaces.

Think of a topic… School Holidays

Roll the dice and whichever connective you roll, you have to try and use to create a compound sentence about the topic.

e.g. I love school holidays BECAUSE I get to go and stay at Nana’s house.

Take turns, going back and forth. After 3 turns each, change the topic.

VCOP six grid learning tool media_cameraVCOP six grid learning tool

IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU LIKED ABOUT TODAY’S STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting in today’s article. Use lots of adjectives.

Extra Reading in animals