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Home   Kent   News   Article

Deadly black widow found in Kent

07 June 2011

Maidstone vet Mark Rowland with a potentially-deadly black widow spider discovered in a container at Chatham Docks

Vet Mark Rowland with the deadly black widow

by Alan McGuinness

Its venom is 15 times more deadly than a rattlesnake, it devours males after mating - and it's looking for a new home... in Kent.

A black widow spider was discovered by workers importing cars from the United States at Chatham Docks at the weekend.

It was trapped and taken to a Maidstone veterinary surgery in a Chinese takeaway carton.

Maidstone vet Mark Rowland with a potentially-deadly black widow spider discovered in a container at Chatham DocksMark Rowland, the owner of Trinity Vet Centre and an expert in zoological medicine says he has never had to deal with something like this before.

He said: "The first thing we thought when it was brought in was: 'Thank god there are not any holes in this'. At least it was secure.

"The thing about Chinese takeaway cartons is that they have got firm lids you can put on.

"The guys had done a good job in entrapping it in that. Although it was not ideal it was better than it could have been.

"If it was brought in a box that would have been a bit more disconcerting.

"We just had to transfer it to a more secure container and double box it so it would not cause any problems."

A bite from a black widow spider can cause muscle pain and spasms, nausea, vomiting, a coma and even death.

"Statistically the fatality rate is five per cent - the only fatalities occur in older people, very young people or those who do not have as robust an immune system as normal.

"The effects of it can last for up to several weeks after - it is quite a nasty experience," said Mr Rowland.

"the guys had done a good job in entrapping it in that…” – mark rowland
Now he is searching for somewhere, or someone, to take the spider.

"I have started with the local zoological collections - I have contacted London Zoo.

"I have got quite a few contacts in the zoological world so we should be able to find somewhere for her.

"Wherever she goes they will have to have a dangerous wild animal licence because she is a potentially dangerous animal.

"That is why I am exploring this avenue first and then I will send it out to the general public.

"But that would be both irresponsible and illegal if they do not have a licence. Until that time she will remain here."

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