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Last updated: August 17, 2012
First published: August 17, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
Research by Steve Williamson, Shevaun Fitzpatrick, Brett Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer
This image is currently circulating at speed across Facebook and other social media outlets causing the more arachnophobic among us to quake in our boots. According to the message that comes with the image, the spider was found "this morning" in a house in Manchester UK and its discovery caused the residents to flee screaming. The message claims that the fire brigade was called but were too scared to deal with the spider and handed the situation over to a spider specialist.
There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the photograph and it is probably depicts a real spider. The spider is possibly a Giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda Maxima) which are a species native to Laos. These spiders are thought to be the largest in the world by leg span and can reach more than 30 centimeters across. Huntsman of other types are also quite common here in Australia and I have encounters several very large specimens myself in older houses I have lived in. Also, the size of objects in photographs can be quite deceptive and the spider may not be quite as large as it appears to be in the image. Huntsman spiders are not very aggressive and are not generally considered to pose a significant danger to humans although a bite may be painful .
Although probably real, it seems very unlikely that this spider was actually discovered in Manchester as claimed in the message. As noted, Heteropoda Maxima live in Laos and other kinds of Huntsman would not normally be found in the UK. There is also nothing to substantiate the claim that a fire brigade was called to remove the spider. Also, the same spider picture has circulated in other contexts since at last 2011 without any references to Manchester. It is likely that someone has simply invented the Manchester story to enhance the fear factor of the image.
Giant Huntsman Spider
Huntsman Spider - Heteropoda Maxima - Giant Spider
Australian Huntsman Spiders
Huntsman Spiders...low risk - non-aggressive