More than 1,000 venomous giant wolf spiders are bred in captivity in the UK in a world first as scientists attempt to save the critically-endangered arachnids

Mail Online | 8/8/2017 | Press Association;Harry Pettit For Mailonline
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One of the world's largest and rarest spiders has been bred in captivity in the UK in what is believed to be a world first.

More than 1,000 Desertas wolf spiderlings, which will eventually grow to around 12cm (4.7") in size, have hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

Keepers - Hundreds - Spiderlings - UK - European

Keepers now plan to send hundreds of the tiny venomous spiderlings, classified as critically endangered, to other UK and European zoos to set up new breeding points.

Experts have hand-reared some of the venomous arachnids from tiny eggs as they are so precious.

Spiderlings - Adults - Size - Body

The spiderlings currently measure just 4mm (0.15") across but will grow to be huge black and white adults up to 12cm (4.7") in size, with a 4cm (1.6") body.

The species is currently found in one valley on Desertas Grande, one of the Desertas islands near Madeira, Portugal.

Population - Adult - Spiders - Wild - Spiderlings

There is believed to be a single population of just 4,000 adult spiders left in the wild and it is hoped that some of the spiderlings can be returned to their native island in the future.

The spider preys on smaller spiders, millipedes and other insects, and even small lizards.

Humans - Bite - Attack

It is capable of giving humans a painful and venomous bite, though an attack would not be fatal.

Mark Bushell, curator of invertebrates at Bristol Zoo, travelled to Desertas Grande last year and collected 25 Desertas wolf spiders to breed.

Time - Species - Captivity - Learning - Curve

'Because this was the first time this species had ever been taken into captivity to breed, it was a steep learning curve,' Mr Bushell said.

'After some of the female spiders were mated, it was an anxious wait to see if they would produce egg sacs.

'We

'We were thrilled when they...
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