Two men doing repairs inside a ski lodge have encountered the rare wildlife phenomenon of a monster spider chowing down on a baby possum.
Handymen Adam and Roger were fixing a door inside a cabin at Mount Field in Tasmania when they noticed the huge huntsman spider eating a pigmy possum.
The huntsman was seen tucking into its meal while perched on a door in early April - the same door Adam and Roger had been intending to repair.
Adam, an ecologist, was flabbergasted at the sight, his wife Justine Latton told Yahoo News Australia.
“He was just like, ‘what the f***!’,” Mrs Latton said.
Roger, who Adam now describes as the bravest spider catcher in the world, captured the two animals inside an empty ice ream container and moved them outside.
“My husband’s an ecologist so he takes photos of interesting stuff like that whenever he sees it, and he was blown away,” she said.
Mrs Latton, an environmental consultant, shared the photos to Facebook on Saturday.
She said the Tasmanian pigmy possum is the smallest species of possum in the world, with the one in the photo particularly small - about the size of a walnut.
“Those pigmy possums frequent that area, they’re everywhere but you don’t see them very often.”
The incredibly bizarre sight had many social media users speculating the photos had been photoshopped before being shared to Facebook.
“This looks set up. Both of them are dead, right? Are huntsmen even capable of biting through that? Let alone the spider web coming out of its back?,” one person wrote in a comment.
Others were jealous the two men were there to witness such an incredible event.
“What a once in a life time photo opportunity. I would be so freaking excited if I were lucky enough to witness this,” someone else said.
While the phenomenon is incredibly rare to capture on camera, experts told Yahoo News Australia it was not impossible for a spider to snack on an invertebrate.
“It’s certainly possible for a large spider to eat a small vertebrate like the baby possum in the picture,” Dr Tanya Latty, an entomologist at University of Sydney said.
“Spiders are not restricted to eating insects and there are reports of large spiders eating bats, birds, fish and frogs.
“Vertebrate-eating by spiders is probably rare overall, since most spiders are too small to effectively hunt and kill most vertebrates.”
Dr Thomas White, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney, thought it was likely a “flat huntsman” doing the eating.
“They’re an active-hunting social species that often live in colonies, which is odd for spiders, and that one may well be dragging its catch back home to share.”
Dr White said while it may be a terrifying sight, people should be aware huntsmen spiders are not harmful to humans, and may actually be good for the garden.
“I would just emphasise that these spiders, like almost every spider, is completely harmless to us and is actually a beneficial house or garden-mate that works hard to keep pests at bay,” he said.
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