The alarm was raised when over one hundred lethal spiders were discovered crawling all over an abandoned house.
The previous occupant had collected a variety of deadly spiders, some bought from the internet, and was keeping them as pets. His collection included deadly black widows, funnel-web spiders and tarantulas as well as scorpions.
A member of the public raised the alarm and brought the infestation to the attention of a local animal refuge. The manager of the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary (NEAS) in County Meath, Ireland, Kevin Cunningham, said: “We received a call from Carlow about a gentleman who had vacated a house and left over 100 spiders behind. We had to go in with an expert, catalogue all the species and have the potentially lethal ones like the black widow and funnel-web spiders – which can kill you – destroyed.
“The man had bought the spiders over the internet and had them delivered to him and this is a growing problem that we are seeing here. Many of the spiders would just give a nasty bite but some like the funnel-web spider were a cause of concern. There were also dozens of dead spiders found around the room and, worryingly from postage boxes found on the premises, the spiders were posted from abroad.
“Imagine if they got out of the packaging while in transit. This is not an isolated case. All around Ireland, there are people with tigers, bears and poisonous snakes as pets. It’s been going on a long time and we need to put the brakes on.”
Although in Britain you need a licence to keep an animal that is capable of inflicting harm to a person or other animal, that is not the case in Ireland.