Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Black widow arrives with shipment

Black widows' venom causes cramps and fever but their bites are rarely fatal (SPCA/PA)

A potentially deadly black widow spider shocked workers on a city industrial estate when they discovered it in a shipment from the US.

Employees at a company on Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, Aberdeen, spotted the highly venomous stowaway and contacted the Scottish SPCA which rescued the creature.

The unexpected visitor has now been given a new home by Nick Martin, who has an exotic animal rescue charity in Inverness.

Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer Karen Hogg said: "After some quick research, the people who found this spider were pretty certain it was a black widow. They're very distinctive spiders due to the bright-red hourglass shape on their bodies.

"The callers waited until I arrived rather than attempting to catch it themselves, which was very wise as black widows are highly venomous. A bite would leave you feeling very unwell and, if suffering from an underlying medical condition, it could even prove fatal.

"We are delighted that this spider has been offered a new home by Nick, as we know he has all the experience and expertise to be able to provide it with proper care and a suitable environment."

Black widows live for about two years and are native to the US. Their venom causes cramps and fever although their bites are rarely fatal because of the small amount of poison released.

The firm which received the shipment is Innospection, described as an advanced non-destructive testing firm which carries out remote testing of structures for the likes of the oil and gas industry, refineries and chemical plants.

The spider was discovered in a crate containing metal materials temporarily imported from the Gulf of Mexico area to Scotland for inspection.

Innospection's commercial manager, Ken Conochie, said: "Our technicians working in the warehouse that day spotted the insect in a crate and did the appropriate thing which was: leave it alone and contact somebody who might know what to do about it: the SSPCA. It was a surprise to us and I felt we dealt with it adequately. It's something we need to be aware of for future shipments."

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