One of the UK’s largest and most endangered spiders has been spotted for the first time in more than 25 years.
The great fox-spider has been listed as “seriously endangered” and was expected to become extinct in the euro before it was rediscovered in the Ministry of Defense (MOD) training area in Surrey.
It had not been seen before since the early 1990s and was only found at three sites in Dorset and Surrey.
Mare White, of the Surrey Wildlife Trust, said they were “on the moon” with the discovery.
He said: “This gigantic looking animal is an impressive beast, completely disguised and even nocturnal, and for all its sizes it has been remarkably elusive.”
The Arkanid-enthusiast spent two years late into the night in search of the animal. Eventually, he discovered some unidentified immature spiderlings on MOD land operated by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.
He then found several mature males and a female Great Fox-Spider, more than two inches in diameter, including 55 mm or so of hairy, thorny legs.
The great fox-spider Alopecosa fabrilis is the largest of the wolf-spider lycoside family of spiders. He is an opportunistic hunter who hunts at night and his name for a vortex-like habit behind him is before chasing prey, in sandy terrain, on pebbles and rocks, before gifting and capturing insects.
This spider has eight black eyes and it will stabilize its prey by injecting beetles, ants and small spiders with venom, which liquefies the insect’s internal organs.
They shelter in silk-lined bars or holes under rocks and Mr. Wet now plans to continue his studies by measuring population size.
Nick Baker, a TV presenter and president of the British Aeronautical Society, said: “The prefix ‘great’ doesn’t seem to do it justice, maybe it should be a fabulous or strange fox-spider.”
“Even if the story behind its rarity and rediscovery is not taken into account, this spider is mega. It makes it as beautiful as a spider, it is big and now it is officially a member of the British fauna again.
“The rediscovery of the great fox-spider has been a really exciting thing to happen in wildlife circles for some time now. Glad he’s in safe hands. “
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