Philippine officials find 757 live tarantulas hidden inside boxes of cookies shipped from Poland

Customs officials in the Philippines were in for a creepy-crawly surprise Monday when they found 757 live tarantulas stored inside gift-wrapped boxes of cookies and oatmeal.

The spiders had been flown from Poland to Manila’s international airport before officers from the Philippine Bureau of Customs seized them at a mail exchange center near the airport.

The Filipino man who tried to claim the hairy arachnids was arrested.

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The tarantulas had been declared as “collection items.” Some of the baby spiders were hidden in small plastic vials with holes for air while bigger ones were kept in transparent plastic containers.

According to officials, the cargo was estimated to cost about $5,900.

The hairy arachnids had been sent from Poland and declared as "collection items." (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The hairy arachnids had been sent from Poland and declared as "collection items." (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

In the Philippines, trading, collecting or possessing the popular arachnid is illegal without a permit.

Despite threats of hefty fines and imprisonment, a startling array of wildlife has been seized by the hundreds by airport customs inspectors in Manila since last year, including geckos, iguanas, chameleons and a popular reptile called a bearded dragon.

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Earlier this month, Philippine authorities discovered 1,529 turtles hidden inside luggage at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The turtles and tortoises — which included at least one threatened species — were found abandoned in the arrivals area, stuffed inside a passenger’s luggage within plastic bins on March 3. Some of the turtles had also been found wrapped in duct tape, according to pictures shared by the agency.

Species including the Star Tortoise, Redfoot Tortoise, Red-eared slider and Sulcata Tortoise were found in the luggage, the latter of which is listed as a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the BBC reported.

Fox News’ Michael Bartiromo and The Associated Press Contributed to this report.