Gillingham girl 'bitten by UK's most venomous spider' the false widow amid surge in reported sightings across Kent
A spider believed to be a false widow found at the home of Lorna Baker-Brown
The mother of a Medway schoolgirl has told of the terrifying moment she believes her daughter was bitten by Britain's most venomous spider.
Lorna Baker-Brown, seven, found what appeared to be a false widow spider at her home after being bitten in her sleep.
It comes amid an increase in reported sightings of the spiders – whose bite causes pain, swelling and tingling – in the past month.
The spider, which is said to have caused amputations as a result of its poison, has reportedly been spotted more than 50 times across Kent and London in recent weeks.
Lorna, of Beechings Way, Gillingham, woke up on Saturday to find her ankle had swollen dramatically.
Her mother, Karen Baker, then noticed a bite mark – before discovering the spider, which she killed.
The 44-year-old carer said: "I really didn't expect to see a spider like this in Kent – it's ferocious. I didn't realise we had them in the UK.
"It's bitten my child. Luckily she didn't react to it like some other people have reacted to it and she's back at school now so we're OK.
"People should be aware of how to treat anyone who gets bitten.
"It scares me that these creatures are out there and the NHS doesn't let us know.
"I've got three cats and none of them will go near the spiders. These cats kill things and they don't want anything to do with them so I don't know what to do."
Her daughter said she has now been left feeling "very scared" of spiders after waking up to feel "pain and stinging".
Karen Baker and daughter Lorna Baker-Brown at home in Gillingham
Following her discovery, Ms Baker claims she contacted Medway Council, NHS Direct and the RSPCA to seek help, but said she was referred to the Environment Agency.
The mother-of-three said: "I treated the bite with antibiotics and antihistamines as her leg was really swollen."
But she did not take her daughter to hospital as the swelling went down within 24 hours. Lorna has since returned to school.
While the creature that bit the youngster has not yet been confirmed as a false widow spider, Ms Baker has conducted her own research.
"I really didn't expect to see a spider like this in Kent – it's ferocious..." - Karen Baker
She claims it "must be" the same type as the colour, size and other key features match their description.
Ms Baker added: "It scares me that these creatures are out there."
The false widow spider, a relative of the deadly black widow, has previously only appeared in warmer parts of the country such as Devon and Cornwall.
However, the exotic creatures – originally from the Canary Islands – have moved across the country after a series of mild winters. Experts believe global warming could be to blame.
The spider, which can reach sizes of more than three centimetres, is one of only a few in Britain that can survive in homes by catching enough food.
Have you seen any similar spiders in Kent? Leave a comment below.
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