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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2007, 09:04 GMT
Black widow spider's secure home
The spider is being kept in a secure case - in a secure room.

An animal sanctuary, used to looking after reptiles and birds of prey, has taken in a potentially dangerous black widow spider.

It was discovered by workers at the Airbus plant in Broughton, Flintshire.

It is thought the spider, which is the size of a thumbnail, may have arrived with a delivery from the USA.

The black widow's new home, the North Wales Raptor and Reptile Centre near Ruthin, Denbighshire, is now licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.

The centre's owner Gary Dickinson said handling the spider could be dangerous.

She's fed on a diet of insects and crickets, which are also used for feeding the reptiles at the centre
Gary Dickinson

Know for its neurotoxic venom, Mr Dickinson and his colleagues said they were "not taking any risks" with the black widow and had easy access to a supply of anti-venom.

He added: "It's lethal - we have to keep it in an airtight box within a box and if we do need to handle it we nudge it with chopsticks.

"She's fed on a diet of insects and crickets, which are also used for feeding the reptiles at the centre," he added.

Even though the black widow normally has a lifespan of around three years Mr Dickinson does not know the age of the spider.

It is being kept securely in a locked container, in a locked room.

Mr Dickinson said it had produced numerous egg sacks which he had to incinerate.

He added the spider tried to attack when they removed some of the egg sacks.

The term black widow usually refers to the three North American species, best known for their dark coloration and red hourglass pattern.

The black widow is among the most venomous spiders in North America, with its venom 15 times as toxic as that of the prairie rattlesnake.

But the spiders are usually not deadly to humans because they inject only a small amount of venom.

Spider's nip led to hospital stay
17 Nov 06 |  Wiltshire
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20 Nov 06 |  Southern Counties

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