Giant spiders invade Australian Outback town

The eastern tarantula, also known as a bird-eating spider, that was caught in Bowen, Queensland this week

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(Amalgamated Pest Control )

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The giant tarantula caught in Queensland this week. The spiders have been pushed out of their natural habitat by heavy rain

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Australia is known around the world for its large and deadly creepy crawlies, but even locals have been shocked by the size of the giant venomous spiders that have invaded an Outback town in Queensland.

Scores of eastern tarantulas, which are known as “bird-eating spiders” and can grow larger than the palm of a man’s hand, have begun crawling out from gardens and venturing into public spaces in Bowen, a coastal town about 700 miles northwest of Brisbane.

Earlier this week locals spotted an Australian tarantula wandering towards a public garden in the centre of town where people often sit for lunch. They called in a pest controller, but not before using a can of insect spray to paralyse the spider.

Audy Geiszler, who runs Amalgamated Pest Control in Bowen, said that the spider was a large male with powerful long fangs and was so big that when he placed it – dead – in the palm of his hand its legs hung over his fingers.

Mr Geiszler said that he had been inundated with calls from worried locals reporting sightings of the giant tarantulas, which have been pushed out of their natural habitat over the past month by heavy, unseasonal rain.

“There have been a number of reports. It’s not plague proportions but a number have been spotted around the district,” Mr Geiszler told The Times today shortly after receiving a call from a resident who had spotted another spider on the outskirts of town.

While not deadly like other Australian spiders, the eastern tarantulas are venomous and can grow up to 6cm (2.4in) long with a leg span of 16cm (6.3in). Despite their common name, they do not eat birds, but can kill a dog with one bite, and make a human very sick.

They are also known as whistling or barking spiders for the hissing noise they emit when they are disturbed or aggravated at close range.

Mr Geiszler said that they were common in the east of Australia, but usually kept out of the way and lived under mulch and logs and in natural rocky outcrops.

“I’ve warned folks around here to make sure they wear shoes and gloves when they are gardening at the moment as it can be a very nasty bite,” he said.

Asked what he would do with the giant spider he caught this week, Mr Geiszler said: “I think I’m going to mount this one in acrylic to show people how big it is. It’ll make a great paperweight.”

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