Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 16:33 UK

Shock as deadly black widow found

Black Widow spider in a jam jar
The black widow spider travelled from San Francisco

A deadly black widow spider gave a woman working for a home removal firm a fright when she found the creature wrapped in a hose pipe.

The North American stowaway had spent a month on a container ship before ending up near Presteigne in Powys.

Workers for the removal company were unwrapping Mike and Trish Newman's possessions following their return to the UK from San Francisco.

The spider is now being cared for by an exotic pets specialist in Newport.

Black widows are one of the most poisonous spiders in the world, although their bites are rarely fatal.

The spider was found in the village of Kinnerton, near Presteigne, on Monday and was placed in a jam jar for safety.

Jam jar

Mr and Mrs Newman had returned to the UK after spending five years in San Francisco.

Mr Newman, 53, who is originally from Merthyr Tydfil, said: "The woman from the removal firm was very calm to be fair.

"I had wrapped the hose pipe before we left America and I probably would have taken more care had I known what was lurking inside.

"During our time in the US we'd never seen a black widow, although living there for some time we had made ourselves aware of what one looked like.

"We knew straight away it was a black widow."

Mrs Newman, 58, said she phoned the Department for the Environment, Food and Agriculture (Defra) to ask for advice.

"We placed the spider in a jam jar for safekeeping and Defra put us in touch with an exotic pet specialist in Newport," she added.

Peter Heathcote, an approved exotic animal handler who runs Budget Vets in Newport, has given the spider a temporary home.

He is also due to examine what is thought to be the black widow's egg sack, which could contain up to 700 of her eggs.

Mr Heathcote said: "She's a very hungry little thing at the moment and a little grumpy.

"She's covered in a bit of web so she probably survived on flies and insects during the month on the container ship.

"She'll stay in the UK and we're moving her to the Reptile Zone in Bristol tomorrow."

The spider is thought to be one year old and is expected to live for five years.

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