Risk from false black widow spiders is 'blown out of proportion', say Lincolnshire experts
Lincolnshire exotic pet experts say people should not be unduly alarmed about increased sightings of false black widow spiders in England.
Jim Tweedle, who runs JC Exotics, in Rosemary Lane, off Monks Road, says the venomous creatures - a cousin of the infamous black widow spider – are no strangers to these shores.
He said: “False widows have been in the UK for over 140 years and they are here in Lincolnshire.
"They have not suddenly just arrived.
“But with more and more houses being built their habitats shrink and our houses become their habitats.
"There's always a risk of being bitten by a spider be it a wild domestic spider or a foreign one.
"Someone with a reduced immune system or allergy related to bites or stings could have a problem.
"But there's a lot of panic being caused at the moment about false widows which I think is being blown out of all proportion."
Rob Louth, from Ruskington, is one of a rare band of people licensed to keep venomous snakes and runs exotic pet workshops in schools.
He took 11 of his venomous snakes along to a display day at JC Exotics today including a Snouted Cobra, a Gaboon Viper and an Arizona Rattlesnake.
He said: "If you get bitten by a false widow it will hurt but take paracetamol and you'll be ok.”
John Tweddle, from the Natural History Museum’s Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, said false widow populations have rapidly spread, partly due to climate change.
Their venom is poisonous and will eat through flesh if victims are left untreated. No-one in the UK has died from a spider bite.
The false widow first arrived in Britain many years ago in crates of fruit from the Canaries.
Pet shop owner Mr Tweedle is celebrating a recent move to new, bigger premises, where reptiles can be kept separately from the mammals, including a skunk, meerkats, flying squirrels and naked rats.
Customer and exotic pet breeder Norman Dunbar, from Coningsby, said: “By breeding exotic animals we stop them being taken from the wild for pets.
“I would love to have a pair of skunks. I like reptiles and mammals but with mammals you get more of a response.
“Reptiles, once they get warm on you, just lie there.”