Staff at Paradise Pets in Chorley are used to handling weird and wonderful creatures.
But, even they had a shock when an unsuspecting customer handed in one of the world’s deadliest spiders.
The funnel-web had been found in a shipment container from Melbourne, Australia, and the recipient had caught the eight-legged killer in a plastic container.
Fortunately, the experienced staff at the shop were able to identify the venomous species before anyone got hurt and the creepy crawly has now been expertly disposed of.
James Croft, whose daughter Amy runs the busy pet shop, said: “When the man opened the packaging on the crate from Australia he spotted the spider, but fortunately for him he didn’t touch it and instead he managed to trap it in a plastic container.
“He brought it in to the shop to have it checked, but he left soon after we told him that the spider was deadly!
“We have been to a lot of specialist trade shows and seen the dangerous spiders before in places like Belgium, so as soon as we saw it we realised what it was.
“It was only small, but if it had got free then it could have killed someone.”
James, who keeps spiders and reptiles as pets, and has done so for more than 20 years, added: “The species is on the dangerous animals list so we contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and they told us to kill it straight away.
“We have done it in the most humanely way possible and put the spider in a small airtight container and in our freezer for three days. It’s the best thing we could do, as it won’t have suffered.”
Amy, 21, opened the Harpers Lane shop more than fours years ago, but dad, James, said the spider was the most unusual animal that had ever been handed in over the years.
“We’ve had all sorts from a snake that had been found in a bin, to bearded dragons and tarantulas dropped off, but this is the first time anything deadly has ever been brought in,” he added.
“When we told the guy what it was he just said ‘keep it’ and left the shop.
“He’s really lucky that he didn’t try to touch the spider because if it had bitten him then he would be in a bad way, and he could have even died.
“We think it must only be about a year old and some collectors do keep them as pets, but I have no idea why, and you need a special licence, which no one around here has.
“We always try to rehome any animals that are handed in, but that just wasn’t an option in this case.”
The highly poisonous funnel-web is native to Australia and has fangs that deliver a venomous bite.
The body lengths range from 1cm to 5cm and are darkly coloured.
Figures show at least 15 people have died after encounters with the species over the past 60 years.