Picture this: it's Friday, you've just finished a hard week of work, you're looking forward to the weekend. Your train is rolling into London Bridge station while the capital’s skyline glints in the late afternoon sun. You’re feeling nice and full after your Pret falafel and halloumi wrap, washed down (of course) with an oat flat white. You’re chilled AF. Then, you see a suspicious box left behind by a passenger. You’re about to pick it up and hand it in, when you see what’s inside. A mother-fucking tarantula.
This is what happened last Friday when commuters discovered a 3.5mm sized arachnid sitting inside a clear plastic container: legs, fangs, hair and all. Similar to our old friend Paddington Bear, it was found on a train. Could the capital's new animal mascot be 'London Bridge Spider?'
Passengers took the beast to station staff who contacted the RSPCA for help. London animal rescue officer Mat Hawkins was sent over to collect it, before it was taken to specialists at South Essex Wildlife Hospital where it will be re-homed.
‘Passengers got more than they bargained for when they spotted this little guy on the train,’ Hawkins said. ‘He was shut inside a plastic tub so we believe he had been abandoned in the carriage. Thankfully passengers alerted staff who kept him safe in their office until I could arrive to collect him.’
According to the RSPCA, tarantulas can be popular pets in the UK – but they do require highly specialised care, meaning that many are abandoned or mistreated. They could also require a licence or paperwork to be legally kept or sold.
‘Anyone thinking of getting any kind of pet should do lots of research first, using expert sources, to ensure that the species is right for them and that they can properly meet their needs,' said Hawkins.
According to the RSPCA, 'London Bridge Spider' was identified as a pink-toed tarantula – a name referring to the peach-coloured tips of their legs that help them to blend into their forest habitat. The species is usually found in warm, humid environments in its native habitats of Central and South America and Southern Caribbean islands. It's not venomous, but it does have big-ass fangs that can induce pain similar to a wasp sting. Ouch.
If you have any information about who was responsible for abandoning the tarantula, or if you believe that this one could be your pet, please contact the RSPCA’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.