Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Hundreds of Mouse-Sized Spiders Released in U.K.

…And people are celebrating.
By Brian Clark Howard


The majority of people taking an online poll describe this news as "terrifying," but scientists are cheering the comeback of a large, endangered spider in the U.K. It's a recovery that was made possible by the recent release of hundreds of captive-bred individuals.

The fen raft spider (Dolomedes plantarius), which can grow up to three inches (7.6 centimeters) long and sometimes eats fish, is the largest species of spider in the U.K. It is also endangered. That's why scientists from the London-area zoo Chessington World of Adventures have been breeding it in captivity.

You shouldn't be scared—it's not dangerous to people and actually plays an important role in its ecosystem.

In response to their efforts, Chessington World of Adventures was recently presented with a gold conservation award from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Also called great raft spiders, the brown or black arachnids have white or cream stripes along their sides. They live in fens and marshes, where they often skim across the surface of the water (buoyed up by the hairs on their legs).

The spiders feast on other spiders, insects, tadpoles, and small fish, which they catch on the surface of the water.

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