"Roger, don't worry."
It was the warning Justine Latton's man issued before he instructed his friend to look over his head. The couple had been in the middle of attaching a door inside an old ski lodge at Mount Field National Park in Tasmania when Latton's husband noticed that they were not alone.
Less than a foot away, a huntsman spider whether the size of an adult hand was positioned near the top of the door – and a dead pygmy possum dangling from his shiny black fangs.
"It's a bit disgusting and weird and amazing," said Latton The Washington Post, she thought, when her husband, requesting his name not to be used, first showed his pictures of the pig scene back in April. .
Latton was not the only person shocked by the "possum spider". Photos of the hairy arachnid and its mammalian snack shared by Facebook last week by Latton have since become viral and highlight an unusual event that spider experts find fascinating, but others call "the nightmare thing."
But as striking as the pictures may seem, Latton emphasized it in understanding understanding scale. While the spider was "one of the greatest" that her husband had ever seen, the dead possum was about the size of a large walnut, she said. There are two species of minuscule marsupials found in Tasmania: Eastern pygmy possums and small pygmy possums. The eastern variety varies in weight from 15 to 43 grams. Small pygmy possums are the smallest of their kind in the world.
Bryan Fry, a professor at the University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences, told the post that he estimated the spider should be about nine inches in diameter.
It's a good sized spider, "Fry said." It's not a kind of Godzilla spider. "
Huntsman spiders, known for their size and speed, are commonly found in Australia and Tasmania, so Latton said that her Man and his friend were not "freaked out" when they realized a rather large man had lurked around the forest bar. "" This is the kind of place you would really expect to find a spider, "she said.
lune pygmy possum hanging from his mouth was another story.
When her husband notified her friend of the odd duo hovering close to her head, Latton said that Roger noted: "Goodness, you can't see that kind of thing every "
legged critter's typical diet consists of insects," said Fry, why most Australian residents welcome them in their home. The spiders are often found hidden behind dressers or paintings.
"You move one painting, and then there is something like a stranger frames looking back on you, "he said.
Despite the terrifying appearance of the spiders, Fry, a married expert, described them as "friendly, friendly residents."
"They're not a dangerous spider," he said. "They're not one I have a mind about having around my house. I'd rather have a few huntsman and smaller cockroaches."
Huntsman spiders feeding small rodents are "not common, but it's not unheard of," said he. Unlike other spiders that use webs to ease their prey, the hunter hunts down and immobilizes them using poison.
"I would not expect a pygmy possum to be taken out so easily, so there is a chance that the animal might have been sick or injured for it to happen," Fry said.
He added, "It's not something you would normally see, so the news makes it interesting."
There have been other cases of large spiders following rodents, Graham Milledge, a Australian arachnology assembly leader Museum in Sydney, told the post.
In 2016, video of a huntsman spider scalding on the side of a refrigerator was made while a dead mouse was being made. A few months ago, scientists released a tarantula the size of a plate killing an opossum in the rainforest of southeastern Peru.
Spiders will try to eat "everything that comes within their understanding … it's a size they think they can handle," Milledge said.
On social media, Latton's photos exclaimed mixed reactions, from fascination to horror.
"I would be so freaking excited if I was lucky enough to witness this," A user commented on Facebook. "Thank you for part of such an epic image."
Others felt the pictures that a person wrote that it was "time to leave the planet."
Although the images have frightened many, Fry emphasized that huntsman spiders are beneficial, especially for pest control.
"Don't try to kill them," he said. "Take a live and easy live approach."
After snapping pictures of the hunter's spiders and his meal, Latton said her husband and his friend successfully moved the couple outdoors with an old ice container.
"No spiders were injured in the relocation effort (too late for possum)," she wrote in a Facebook message to the post.
Correction: An earlier version of this story is incorrectly described pygmy possums. .