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German cops hunt HUGE ERECTION-inducing SPIDER

13cm Brazilian arachnid leaves victims panting, priapic

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A supermarket in the German town of Bexbach was evacuated last Friday after an employee spotted a potentially-deadly Brazilian spider legging it from a crate of bananas.

The eight-legged beast, described as "large, greyish" and "about 13 centimeters long", jumped from the crate and made good its escape under a shelf. A quick check on the internet identified it as a Brazilian wandering spider, of the genus Phoneutria, known for their aggression and very nasty bite.

Police and local zoo experts moved in to assist staff in an unsurprisingly cautious sweep of the store, which failed to flush out the renegade arachnid. Accordingly, experts decided to spray the premises with poison, which they believe probably did the trick, although chillingly, no body has been found.

The Phoneutria genus comprises eight species, distributed across Central and South America. The "wandering" tag comes from the spiders' tendency to scuttle around on the ground at night.

They're particularly problematic to humans because their nocturnal habits drive them to seek dark refuges during the day, such as in piles of logs or clothing, and they don't take kindly to being disturbed. If threatened, they rear up with their front four legs raised in a defensive position, and if that doesn't do the trick, they pile in with an injection of potent "Tx2-6" neurotoxin.

Phoneutria fera is reckoned to be the most venemous species of the lot, although Phoneutria nigriventer accounts for most bite incidents in Brazil, since it is common in the country's densely populated southeast.

The effects of a Phoneutria bite are loss of muscle control and breathing difficulties, leading to respiratory failure in serious cases. The venom also provokes priapism, which has led to several studies on its possible use in treating erectile dysfunction. ®

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