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Spider on the loose!

By This is Surrey  |  Posted: July 16, 2009

  • Creepy-crawly: Mark Wilmot found a giant spider and released it in Surrey

  • Bugged: Mark Wilmot asked friends on the web for advice about his spider

  • Gotcha: Mark Wilmot caught an Australian tarantula in a flat-packed shed Photo no: RSMdb140709E by David Berman

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A giant spider was released into the Surrey wilderness after the man who found it took advice from friends on the web.

Spanning the size of a human hand, a huntsman spider or Australian tarantula, hitch-hiked 5,000 miles in a flat-packed shed from China to the UK.

A familiar sight to fans of the show I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here, the spider could now give residents a live dose of the reality programme.

Known to shelter in homes in hot countries, the lizard-eating arachnid is not deadly, but can deliver a powerful punch.

The eight-legged spider, also known as the giant crab spider, has a painful bite that causes swelling, which can lead to vomiting and headaches.

Native to Australia but found in hot climates, the spider was discovered by Mark Wilmot, 48, while assembling a garden shed.

Mark, head shed installer for Reigate Garden Centre, set up the £500-structure at the Reigate home of the Allen family on Tuesday, July 7.

He said: "It was enormous, the biggest thing I'd ever seen, and quick too, it darted across the wood.

"It crawled into a corner and stopped moving, I grabbed an empty box of screws and managed to trap it inside – it completely filled the box.

"I put some holes in it so it could breathe and taped it up, then put it back in the van to carry on working.

"I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with it, but my girlfriend has a snake and (it) loves insects, so I thought I'd take it home for her to see."

After months trapped between timbers en route from east Asia, the spider spent a further day travelling around East Surrey.

Mark said: "I put the box in the van but completely forgot it was there.

"It spent the night in the van and then went all around Surrey with me.

"It wasn't until the following day I remembered."

After a further two days with Mark and his partner Tracy Williamson, 32, the couple decided to set the spider free.

Mark, of Emlyn Road, Earlswood, said: "We couldn't work out what it was, so we posted a picture of it on Facebook.

"We asked if anyone knew what kind of spider it was, and eventually someone wrote and said it looked like a huntsman."

"So, I decided to let the thing go, as we didn't think it was deadly."

The bug-eater was released into a field off Honeycrock Lane, Salfords.

Mother-of-two, Nicky Allen, 44, of Broadhurst Gardens, said: "It took about two hours to put the shed up. I'm just glad they caught it."

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    Paul Davies, stevenage  |  August 06 2009, 10:49PM

    My partner is so parranoid about spiders I would P.M.S.L if it did'nt scare her so much they rearly worry her . I have even been bitten by a spider (10p size) & less than a bee sting but still made me jump. What do people think they are doing they rearly must be that DUM. If it's not native it dose'nt belong don't let it go F*****G TWAT he should be baned from keeping pets for ??? years & finned.

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    ellen, crawley  |  August 05 2009, 9:29PM

    omfg it look likes like the spider that was on my dad

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    Jan, Epsom  |  August 05 2009, 10:27AM

    Not only can I not believe the irresponsibility of this man and his girlfriend, but I cannot believe that they'd actually publicise the fact that they'd behaved so stupidly, once it was too late to do anything to recapture the spider. Are they proud of letting this monster loose? Haven't they heard of cross-breeding? Haven't they read about the dangers created when owners of 'exotic pets' release them into the wild when they become too big to safely handle? Many people in this country have a real fear of spiders - even our own domestic ones - so what is the thought of an enormous Huntsman (and possibly 'mutants' in later years!) on the prowl going to do to them? I work in an estate agents and if my office was in Salfords I'd be finding it a lot harder to sell properties in the area! These idiots ought to be prosecuted for what they've done. I'd have laughed at K, Redhill's comment about the thing backpacking across the UK with an anaconda had I not been so incensed by what's happened here...

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    Skipsurfer, Maidstone  |  July 30 2009, 12:24PM

    Think you'll find it's illegal to release non native species into the wild in the UK. Lets hope it eats chipmunks and leaves out native species alone. Some how I doubt it. Knotweed pie anyone?

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    K, dorking  |  July 29 2009, 12:19PM

    HOW IRRESPONSIBLE OF HIM TO LET IT GO . NOW IT HAS CHANCE TO BREED. GREAT

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    I.Gibbs, South Nutfield  |  July 23 2009, 10:09PM

    It beggars belief that people could be so irresponsible! Did they give no thought to the possibility that small children or pets could get bitten with possible fatal consequences? They must be mental - would you forget you had a huge strange spider in your vehicle? That says it all doesn't it?

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    Julie, Redhill  |  July 22 2009, 1:39PM

    An eight legged spider eh? No kidding! I did lift my bare feet off the floor when I read this article!

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    Kriztianne, Salfords  |  July 21 2009, 1:24PM

    OH MY GOD!!!! Its been let loose right near where i live!! Why did they do this???

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    Cyberman, Berkshire  |  July 20 2009, 3:25PM

    This would never have happened under the Tories.

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    John, Reigate  |  July 19 2009, 5:23PM

    Tic Tac Sir ?

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