Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 08:17 UK

Deadly spider found in banana box

The Phoneutria nigriventer spider
The Phoneutria nigriventer is among the world's most dangerous spiders

A supermarket cashier came face-to-face with a deadly South American spider when she found it nestling in a bunch of bananas she was unpacking.

Kate Whitmore, 25, picked up the bananas along with the highly venomous Phoneutria nigriventer.

"I held it close to my face and thought, 'What is that?' she said. "It wasn't a very nice spider."

The Co-op in Wayfield Road, Chatham, Kent had to be closed on Monday while the RSPCA dealt with the spider.

The charity advised staff to keep the spider contained and not to approach it until the animal collection officer arrived.

'Very aggressive'

"He lifted the bunch of bananas with leather gloves and put it in a box which had a separate container," said mother-of-two Ms Whitmore.

"As he nudged it to try to move it into the container, the spider reared up, hissing and put its fangs out.

"It made us all jump."

RSPCA officers Anthony Pulfer said: "It was very aggressive and trying to go for me when I was putting it in the box.

"It was really jumping around and trying to attack me."

It was only after it was taken away to be put down that staff discovered the 1.5in-long spider, which is thought to have travelled in the fruit packaging from Colombia, had a painful and potentially lethal bite.

Phoneutria nigriventer ranks alongside the black widow and funnel-web as one of the world's most dangerous spiders.

"I'm not frightened of spiders... but I was advised not to touch it," said Ms Whitmore.

"It's only afterwards you think about what could have happened if I'd got bitten?"




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