Britain’s biggest spider is the size of your hand - and they're multiplying in the UK

24 March 2022, 16:03 | Updated: 25 March 2022, 08:51

The fen raft spider is the biggest in Britain
The fen raft spider is the biggest in Britain. Picture: Alamy

By Heart

The fen raft spiders are making a comeback to the UK.

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Britain’s biggest spider is said to be multiplying in the UK, and it can grow to the size of your hand.

According to The Sun, the number of fen raft spiders has risen to the highest number in ten years.

But while you might not like the thought of the creepy crawly running across your carpet, the spiders were actually on the brink of distinction just a few years ago.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds state that until 2010, there were only three known populations in the UK, leaving the species at risk of dying out.

More fen raft spiders have been found in Norfolk
More fen raft spiders have been found in Norfolk. Picture: Alamy

But thanks to the work of the RSPB, the Wildlife Nature Reserves report showed they were found in 111 hectare-grid squares in the Mid Yare nature reserve in Norfolk.

In fact, numbers of the fen raft spiders have now reached the thousands, according to the report.

RSPB's Tim Strudwick said: "This is one of the UK’s rarest invertebrates, as beautiful as any, and we are really proud of the part our reserve and team has played in its recovery.

"The females are impressive in size, but elegant and quite beautiful, even to an arachnophobe (like me!)."

Raft spider

What is a fen raft spider?

The spiders are harmless to humans and have cream stripes on their dark bodies, with females growing the size of a palm.

They are so big that they can even catch stickleback fish to feed off, with their legs spanning up to 8cm.

As semi-aquatic creatures, they can walk on water, with females building an egg sac and dipping it into water every few hours to keep the eggs moist for about three weeks.

​​Favouring areas along the water’s edge, the female spiders spin a silk nursery web up to 25cm which is suspended above the water between plants.

After the young leave their nest, the females only have a few weeks before they have a second brood.

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