Spiders the size of your hand are spreading across the UK – and can even walk on water

BRITAIN’S largest spider is making a chilling comeback.

According to conservationists figures of the bog raft spider — which grow to the size of your palm — are on the rise for the first time in years.

The raft spider can grow to be the size of your palm


The raft spider can grow to be the size of your palmCredit: Alamy
The Fen Raft is Britain's largest arachnid


The Fen Raft is Britain’s largest arachnidCredit: RSPB

The species, harmless to humans, is making a remarkable recovery after being threatened with extinction just ten years ago.

The number of crawling creatures has now reached thousands, according to an RSPB report published this week.

It is found in wetlands at a handful of sites across the UK including near RSPB Strumpshaw Fen in the Norfolk Broads.

RSPB’s Tim Strudwick said: “This is one of Britain’s rarest invertebrates, as beautiful as any and we are really proud of the role our reserve and team have played in his recovery.

“The females are an impressive size but are elegant and quite beautiful, even for arachnophobes (like me!)”

The bog raft has an enormous leg span of up to three inches and is the largest of the 660 species of eight-legged creatures in Britain.

It hunts by walking on the surface of ponds and swamps, feeds on smaller spiders, and can even attack prey as large as a small fish.

The species is usually shy and lives away from populated areas, although the animals may end up in your garden.

It can be recognized by the distinctive cream-colored stripes on its cigar-shaped, dark body.

The bog raft is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act due to its high risk of extinction.

Zookeepers and conservationists have been working on a breeding program to increase numbers since 2011.

The recently released RSPB Ecology Report assessed the condition of UK wildlife, including the struggling swamp raft.

It showed that in 2021 the total number of females found in the Mid Yare area of ​​the Norfolk Broads is likely to be in the thousands.

The species is now present in 111 one-acre grid squares in two bogs in the Norfolk Broads, the report said.

Tim continued, “The spiders can only be seen in the grazing swamp ditches and are quite shy, but they are easy to find from June to September when the adult females have their young.”

While the rising number of spiders may send shivers down your spine, there is a glimmer of hope for arachnophobes.

The cigar spider does not lurk in the corners of houses, but prefers the watery environment of wetlands.

According to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust: “It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s not found in dry, dusty corners, but on the sparkling surface of water in our richest wetlands.

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“Fen raft spiders, one of our rarest species, were first discovered in Britain in 1956 at the Trust’s Redgrave and Lopham Fen reserve.

“They have only been found in two other locations since – in southern England and south Wales.

“With dark, cigar-shaped bodies highlighted by white or cream go-fast stripes, the raft spider is a striking animal.

“It lives at the edges of bodies of water, such as bog pools and grazing swamp ditches, where it sits and waits for prey.

“He’s a formidable hunter above and below water, taking prey much larger than himself, including large dragonfly larvae and even sticklebacks!”

The spider has a leg span of up to three inches


The spider has a leg span of up to three inchesCredit: RSPB
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