'World's deadliest spider' may actually help save its own victims

He’s big. He drips venom. He’s angry. His name is Colossus.

And he’s the Australian Reptile Park’s biggest recruit.

Found on New South Wales’ Central Coast, he’s now letting go of all that pent-up hostility for a cause. Antivenene. Colossus is being milked for his prodigious production of venom, which is then used to create life-saving antidotes for the bite of the frightening Australian funnel web.

Australian funnel webs are renowned as the world’s deadliest spider.

Fortunately, just one of the 40 species of funnel-web found in Australia holds that title: the Sydney funnel-web (Atrax robustus)

In a worst-case scenario, it can kill a human in just 15 minutes.

It has been known to grow up to 10 cm. (approximately 4 in.) in size. Its large rear-facing fangs are strong enough to pierce toenails.

Its venom short-circuits the nervous system. Synapses and nerves go into overdrive — producing a racing heart, high blood pressure and breathing difficulty.

The human body can’t handle this for long. But nobody has died from a bite since 1981 when the antivenene was invented.

Now Colossus is helping keep stocks up.

The average funnel-web needs to be “milked” up to 70 times to produce a single dose.

Colossus may come in somewhat less than that, though.

But he’s among several hundred similar arachnids being kept to safeguard humans against their own kind.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.