STAFF unloading a shipment of BMX bikes from Taiwan got the fright of their lives when they discovered an unusual eight-legged stowaway.
Jon Taylor, of Seventies BMX Distribution, in Moorhurst Road, St Leonards, was unloading the bikes on Monday morning (November 4) along with colleagues Joe Woodburn and Charlie Reed.
He said that as Joe passed him a box he froze as he saw a huge spider crawling across it.
“I said, ‘Joe, there’s a spider on the box’. But I couldn’t get my words out fast enough.
“It was really docile at the time but we didn’t know whether or not it was poisonous.”
They managed to get the creature into a big plastic container before making a call to the RSPCA.
Joe said: “I thought it was plastic at first as it wasn’t moving, but the minute it was in the sunlight it started to warm up and was running around and jumping up the side of the box.
“We get containers like this all the time and we have always joked that one day we’d open one up to find some kind of ferocious animal in there, but I never expected to find a spider as big as this.”
The seven-inch specimen was identified by the RSPCA as a Huntsman spider, and taken to its new home at Drusillas Park, by RSPCA inspector Tony Woodley.
He said: “Huntsman spiders can give you a nasty bite, but they aren’t likely to cause too much harm unless you suffer an allergic reaction.
“However, because they are so big and they run around so quickly, they are probably an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare.”
He said he wasn’t surprised that the spider had survived, despite being locked in the shipping container for six weeks while it made its way across the ocean from Taiwan to St Leonards.
“Spiders can survive a long time without food and water. The cold is going to be the main problem for them, but it probably survived the journey because the weather has been fairly mild.”
Drusillas Park spider expert Angela Hale said: “I am really excited to have this fantastic creature in our care; it’s not everyday that a spider this big is brought to us.
“Giant huntsman spiders are found all over the tropics and have exceptionally long legs that spread out to the side and this is why they are sometimes called crab spiders.
“They are not dangerous or aggressive but can move extremely fast if disturbed. I am sure it would have given the guys in the warehouse a bit of a fright when they found it.”