Arachnophobes beware – hundreds of the biggest spiders found in Britain have been released into the wild.
Around 400 fen raft spider – the largest of the nation’s 660 species of spider – have been deliberately set free by zoo keepers.
They live in fens and other wetlands in southern England and Wales and are able to sit on the surface of the water and move across it thanks to their hairy legs.
They enjoy munching on small spiders, dragonfly larvae and pond skaters, however they are not averse to catching small vertebrates such as fish and tadpoles.
And they are ‘very caring mothers,’ experts said.
Now Chessington World of Adventures zoo keepers have been rewarded for helping to reintroduce the spiders back into its natural habitats.
The popular tourist attraction released fen raft spider-lings as part of a conservation effort for the endangered species.
The zoo keepers have been working since 2011 to help the arachnids, which are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act due to their high risk of extinction.
The population of the fen raft spiders almost doubled after conservation efforts from the zoo and no longer need rearing to ensure their survival.
CWoA won gold at the annual BIAZA awards, which awards zoos for conservation work across the country.