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Massive Fish-Eating Spider Back from the Brink of Extinction [PICS]

Telegraph, U.K.

Well, this is both terrifying and excellent news. 

A giant fish-eating spider, known as a raft spider or fen spider, is now thriving in different parts of the UK. What makes this story so exciting is that as recently as five years ago, this exact spider was on the verge of extinction due to habitat loss.

NATIONAL PICTURES Embargoed until 00.01 31/10/15 Pic by: Dr Helen Smith/National Pictured: Fen Raft Spider Caption: UKís largest spider is making a comeback; but donít worry- it prefers fens to fireplaces! Far from the giant house spiders seeking dark spaces and crevices behind the fireplace this Halloween, the semi-aquatic fen raft spider prefers to make its home in fens and marsh ditches, and thanks to a highly successful translocation project, the rare spiders are now thriving on RSPB land close to Strumpshaw Fen in the Norfolk Broads. With over 480 nursery webs counted this season (July-October), compared with 184 in 2014, this new population puts the spider in a much more secure position as a UK species. Unlike our eight-legged friends you may find lurking underneath the sofa this autumn, these water-walking giants can be found living in ditches and pools in chalky wetlands. The fen raft spider is a striking creature with a dark body and cream stripes down the side; they are very large and females can sometimes reach up to the size of the palm of a hand. Up until 2010 there were only three known populations in the UK, leaving the species very vulnerable and at real risk of extinction. A pioneering translocation project between conservation partners and funders- including Suffolk and Sussex Wildlife Trusts, Natural England, the Broads Authority, RSPB and the British Arachnological Society- has already substantially reduced this risk by establishing new fen raft spider populations in the Broads

Raft spiders can grow as big as the palm of your hand or, in more disturbing terms, about the size of a rat. They feed on birds, small mammals, tadpoles, and yes, fish.

When these spiders were reintroduced to swamps and ditches around Norfolk and Suffolk in the U.K., biologists counted nursery webs, which is where nest clusters exist to raise bird-eating spider babies.


As recently as last year, only 184 nursery webs were counted in a specific 500 meter stretch of U.K. swamps and marshlands. This year, in the same stretch, over 1,000 nursery webs were counted and the areas has grown. Almost 3,000 kilometers of the same area is now home to these spiders for 2015.


Luckily for us humans, and even more specifically, the people of the U.K., these giant spiders are harmless to people.

Of course, if you ever came face to face with one of these, you would probably need a new pair of clean pants.

All images via the Telegraph, U.K.

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Massive Fish-Eating Spider Back from the Brink of Extinction [PICS]