back to article False widow spiders in guinea pig slaughter horror

A British mum has warned against the inexorable spread of the false widow spider after the killer arachnid apparently dispatched a trio of her family's guinea pigs to the hereafter. Michelle Richards, of Hedge End, Hampshire, recounted to the Daily Mail how son Jordan found three of five guinea pigs dead in their hutch, "with …

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'killer arachnid'. You're right on one score; it's an arachnid.

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Coat

And it's a killer too, mostly of flies presumably.

But if I had a pet fly I would be very concerned.

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Anonymous Coward

Here we go again, on the day a news paper article on false window spiders hit the press a 1000% increase in called to pest control companies was recorded. Not surprisingly no further 'infestations' were reported in the press.

Same thing happened when the BBC ran an article on bed bugs, which are more endemic throughout the UK.

People are easy to scare shi*tless.

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"We don't want this happening to anyone else. We want to make as many people aware of this as possible."

Hence guaranteeing, if it can happen, it is going to happen multiple times more, as "slugs and snails" little boys, put every false-widow they find in the guinea pig cage.

(not convinced that means there will be any more dead guinea pigs though.)

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Knutsford guardian (bastion of truth!) run an article proclaiming they were in knutsford. As a pestie, i was only too happy to pour scorn and ridicule (thats the IT side of me) on their utter stupidity...Then pointed out it was zygiella x-notata.

Almost as bad as the daily fail....

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> People are easy to scare shi*tless.

Shirtless?

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Joke

Oh Dear

This must be terribly upsetting for everyone in the U.K. I mean, a spider that kills all your cute, fluffy little pets, however will you survive?

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Re: Oh Dear

You might have been making a joke about the hysteria trying be drummed up but at first glance it doesn't come over as that.

If you weren't and you think pets dying means nothing you've obviously never had kids see their first dead pet then? When I was 6 I cried my eyes for about 3 hours when my guinea pig died. My daughter was in a bloody awful state when her first hamster had to be taken to the vet to be put down after it developed a tumour. Sure kids get over it, it's one of life's most important lessons, but when it happens and it's first time your life you finally realise that living things croak and there's nothing you can do about it.

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Re: Oh Dear

at a guess , i would say he is suggesting that getting in a flap over that is nothing new in whatever part of the world he is in. For example, anyone in Oz has to put up with much worse things on a daily basis, sometimes just putting on your shoes without checking them can be fatal.

So, reading a story like this can seem quite ridiculous.

Anyway, we are ok over here in Eire, we have St Patrick patrolling the coasts 24/7

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Anonymous Coward

@Amorous Cowherder

I don't know where to start... taking a hamster to the vet to be put down... have you not got a spade?

Losing a pet is sad but for goodness sake get a sense of perspective. I was in Haiti after the earthquake, with bodies everywhere, that's something to cry about.

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All you need to do is add a bit of radioactive waste, and you've got yourself a perfect B grade!

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Who needs radioactive waste?

When we have these to play with?

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Cute li'l guinea pigs.

Well that's too bad. I have guinea pigs myself. I don't know how smart it is to keep guinea pigs outdoors, though.

But how did that guinea pig get pregnant, I wonder? I wouldn't be too surprised if at least one of the two surviving guinea pigs were an adult male. Breeding guinea pigs is frowned upon by guinea pig keepers where I am, because of the large number of homeless animals (of all sorts) in rescues and "shelters", some of which kill unadopted animals on a regular schedule. Obviously I do not know what the situation in the UK is. But more specifically regarding guinea pigs, pregnancy is very risky. A pregnant guinea pig looks not unlike a pancake with legs.

But it's too bad about those guinea pigs, though.

: (

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Re: Cute li'l guinea pigs.

I've got 11 'free range' guinea pigs outdoors not even in a cage (just a 30cm tall fence around a large area).

This is in Australia as well where if you get bitten by a spider and it is just as bad as a wasp sting, you are lucky.

The pigs love it. They couldn't be happier.

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@ Nick Stallman

You don't need to worry about dogs, or other possibly predatory animals, or unsupervised children roaming at large?

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Re: Cute li'l guinea pigs.

>You realise that 30cm fence is merely psychological.

I suspect that psychological effect works on both sides though.

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Anonymous Coward

She has a son called 'Jordan'. That's all you need to know about this story really...

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MJI
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Jordan

But why not Eddie?

The only person I can think of with Jordan in their name.

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JDX
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Re: Jordan

Not a basketball fan then?

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Anonymous Coward

Jordan

Has been a popular boy's name since long before anyone had heard of Katie Price.

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Re: Jordan

Define "popular".

I agree with the OP - that name ranks with "Wayne" as an indicator of parental sensibility.

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Megaphone

You

eight legged FREAKS!!!!!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

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Eight Legged Freaks

Worst. Film. Ever. Apart from AI.

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"I don't know how smart it is to keep guinea pigs outdoors, though."

Well, if they survive to 5 years old indoors in a small, smelly cage with the cat sitting onthe top terrorising them they're generally lucky. Let them run outside and behave like ... like ... well, guinea pigs, and 20 or 25 years of happy, rodenty, snuffliness is easy ... Outside is not only a good idea it's good!

There's a scientific paper (which I can't find at the moment) detailing the findings of an explorer who discovered guinea pigs actually living in the wild - not a centrally heated pet shop or someone to shout 'have you fed the bloody guinea pig' in sight ...

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really ?

". Let them run outside and behave like ... like ... well, guinea pigs, and 20 or 25 years of happy, rodenty, snuffliness is easy ... Outside is not only a good idea it's good!"

you live and learn. +1

stu

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Anonymous Coward

The only thing I'd be worried about is the climate of their natural habitat and their likely hood of freezing solid in a harsh British winter.

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Widespread

Sudden temp changes kills.

But they live all the way from Amazonian Swamps to Andean snow line. They like snow. At least ours did.

But they WILL attack stuff. We had one that taunted a rook. It knew EXACTLY how far the rook could reach into the outdoor run. We had netting roof. Otherwise Cats & Magpies would try eating them.

Rats would tunnel in to steal g'pig food in broad daylight. Most of the cavies ignored them, but one male would chase them. Our largest pig was size of a dwarf rabbit, about twice size of rat, and similar but bigger teeth to a rat.

Something else might have killed them.

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jai

kill it! kill it with fire!!!

Take off an' nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!!

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Re: kill it! kill it with fire!!!

Seems a bit extreme for guinea pigs when a few spiders will do the job. (Allegedly.)

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MJI
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Guinea pigs

Well we have 2 males (brothers) so I expect they would shag any errant spiders if they dared to enter their hutch.

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Steatoda bipunctata

I can't help thinking it's more likely that these were Steatoda bipunctata, aka "Rabbit Hutch Spiders", who just happened to have made their home in the hutch of the dear departed guinea pigs.

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FAIL

Re: Steatoda bipunctata

Clarify for me, if you will, the difference between Steatoda bipunctata* and the false widow spider.

Bonus points for attempted pedantry and use of latin.

* AKA "Rabbit Hutch Spider" or "False Widow Spider"

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Re: the difference between Steatoda bipunctata and the false widow spider.

I'll take a stab at this.

The False Widow Spider is not a species of spider but an entire genus: Steatoda.

Within that genus there are something like 120 different species of which in the UK we care about three:

nobilis (probably the most common form), grossa and bipunctata (the aforementioned rabbit hutch spider, named after the two indents in the back) all of which live in habitats close to humans.

So one can say that any of these three species could be called "A False Widow Spider" but not "The False Widow Spider".

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Re: Steatoda bipunctata

Steatoda bipunctata is a species of cob-web spider, of the genus Steatoda, in the family Theridiidae.

It is common in North America and Europe and may be found in proximity to human structures, such as basements or sheds. A nickname for this arachnid is the Rabbit Hutch Spider, since rabbit hutches often make a suitable habitat. The Steatoda bipunctata is similar in shape to the Black Widow spider of the genus Latrodectus and can thus be mistaken for it, although its bite is significantly less dangerous to humans. For this reason, species of the genus Steatoda are commonly called 'False Widows'.

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Re: Steatoda bipunctata

Sorry if the Latin scared you. It's the standard scientific way to talk about different animal species. In techie terms, think of it as being like a model number - there's no risk of ambiguity. E.g. if you say "brown bear", maybe you mean a bear that happens to be brown, but if you say "Ursus arctos" then you're talking about a particular species, commonly called the "brown bear".

Anyway, various types of spider are known as "false widows". My point was that these *specific* false widows were likely that *particular* type of false widow that is well known for making its home in rabbit hutches. Presumably a guinea pig hutch is not such a stretch for them.

Thus, it's likely that they were innocent bystanders, rather than malevolent guinea-pig-murdering menaces.

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Anonymous Coward

Won't someone think of the CHILDREN?

It's a activation phrase, just like 'Miranda' in Serenity. When the Daily Mail need to activate their panic and destroy drones for circulation / reading numbers, a mere flutter of the phrase will prompt pitch-fork polishing and fangs to be bared.

I'm not even going to read the article (I won't give them the traffic) but this seems like an investigation conducted by Mumsnet, who (surprise surprise) decide anything unpleasant looking has to be bad for the fluffy animals and chil - oh God, WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

I'm sure these little buggers are not nice, but the presence of them near the unfortunate animals does not yet prove the cause of their demise, yes? Non sequitur at this point, but when did an incomplete picture ever stop the Daily Mail from printing anything?

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Re: Won't someone think of the CHILDREN?

Immigrant spider at that. The Mail's crack arachnid team is no doubt anxiously watching house prices and cancer admissions in the area.

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its all over facebook as well

Morons putting pictures of ordinary spiders and proclaiming the end of the world. One chap moved his entire family out, and into a hotel. Turns out they were house spiders.....

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Re: its all over facebook as well

It doesn't help when sites like the daily star (linked in the article) show a picture of a normal garden spider.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/350662/False-widow-spiders-are-eating-dad-of-four-alive

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Re: its all over facebook as well

No doubt some idiot will go wandering around their house with a lighter in one hand and a can of something flammable in the other, looking for spiders... and the headline in the next morning's Daily Fail will be "EVIL FALSE WIDOW SPIDERS BURN DOWN FAMILY HOME"

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Re: its all over facebook as well

I hope the couple of rather large spiders that take a turn around our living room every evening realise how lucky they are. I even politely greet them and ask how they are. The cats don't bother them, either.

On the other hand, perhaps we are going to become an asylum for all the neighbourhood's spiders now ...

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still...

I know it's 'just like a bee sting'..

but I was putting my shirt on in the hotel about 2 months back, and just caught sight of one in the collar just in time.

I couldn't have got Jenna-Louise Coleman's shirt off any quicker.

I did photograph it before dispatching it to an aquatic afterlife, and it was definately a falsey.

Now... an another spider related subject... seeing as some spider experts may be reading:

- how do I stop the fuckers building their web in front of my outdoor home security camera every bloody night - at the moment I can log on and see the last 200 'motion events' all of which involve said spider...which, although factual, is not aiding or threatening the security of my home to my knowledge.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: still...

RAID (the insecitcide variety) the fuck out of the security camera housing, it's like nerve agent for spiders.

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Paris Hilton

Re: still...

"I know it's 'just like a bee sting'..

but I was putting my shirt on in the hotel about 2 months back, and just caught sight of one in the collar just in time."

Many years ago, I was bitten by a little critter that I was removing from the bath. (I don't kill them; I take them outside and let them go - possibly a result of having had a pet tarantula for many years, I dunno). When I nudged it onto my hand and lifted it, the spider dug its fangs in. It hurt, but more because I didn't expect it than anything else.

"I did photograph it before dispatching it to an aquatic afterlife, and it was definately a falsey."

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo - I still put the spider out, but as I did so a family member turned up and promptly squashed it before I could dive back in and grab my camera. I've since tried identifying it, and the best match I've ever come up with was a false widow - but I wouldn't compare the bite with that of a bee sting, so I'm not sure.

I wonder if Paris is a biter? I bet she is.

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Alert

Re: still...

I fully expect this to be read by your next-of-kin, as the relatively small and industrious spiders at the front are just a distraction...it's the huge mutant funnel-web burrowing up under yer floorboards that I would worry about....classic Oceans 11 or Mission Impossible ploy that one...

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Boffin

Re: still...

it is actually a nerve agent...(C21H20Cl2O3) and will kill all spiders and insects...

A less confrontational way may be to spray a lubricant , perhaps something in teflon?

I'd be interested to see if that works, and if so, for how long...

P.

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Black Helicopters

RAID? Re: still...

Redundant Array of Insect Destroyers

You want more spiders?

icon: needs another leg.

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Webs? 5 of them?

And an empty waterbottle I'd hazard.

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