Dan is Pounced Upon by a Large, Hairy Spider
Rusty’s subjects regularly get their freedom early! Is this justice? Not for me!
By Dan Sargison, who would like to point out that this does NOT make him a wuss. Thanks.
Filmed and edited by Martin Holland
Being an IT technician, I always encounter huge spiders with massive fangs. Maybe once or twice a year there’ll be one in the kitchen or in the bath, and in a very manly manner, I am the person called to save the day by the way of a girly scream (not coming from me, I might add). When I say massive, I’m talking about daddy longlegs and the like – you know the massive ones we get back home in England.
Now I promised myself I’d be a big boy and face up to anything that comes my way. In fact, I think I’ve done pretty well with only a wasp sting so far, albeit the first official sting of the expedition while setting up Camp Foyle.
So far, I’ve seen lots of non poisonous creatures. Creatures that make you go “awww” like the Red Langurs, the Albibis Gibbons! Creatures that make you go “eh?” like the Horned Frog that looks like a leaf to (my) untrained eye. When walking a VES (Visual Encounter Survey) with Rusty and Aspor, I saw lots of spiders – their eyes reflect the head-torch lights. I kept spotting them and kept going to investigate to see if Rusty was interested in that particular species. Not a flinch, not a wince and definitely not a scream.
We share our camp, including the sleeping areas, cooking/eating areas and the science tent. In this tent are all of the scientist’s tools, pots, traps, and measuring and recording devices. Also in this tent is my “power station” that I regularly attend to when charging batteries, laptops, radios etc.
I have to be here – it’s my domain! Just to my right as I write this is Rusty. He’s sat identifying, preserving and generally geeking over species of spider. These spiders are the biggest specimens I’ve seen in my life. They make the largest spider you can possibly get back in England look like a money-spider.
These things are as big as your hand, and I’m not joking. Their teeth are bigger than mine, and I’m sure that if they wanted to swallow me whole, they’d be able to. They deserve their own seats at the bench. Sometimes I find myself asking them if they want a cup of tea when I’m making one for myself. “That’s stupid” I think, “they haven’t got a mug”. And thank the lord for that.
Now occasionally, one of Rusty’s spiders gets loose when he’s transferring from one container to another. Sometimes I see or hear this and then am on high alert for the monster that may lurk under the table, scurrying straight up my leg to sink it’s teeth into my tasty flesh.
The other day, after observing ‘Priscilla’ for a few days in his make-shift tarantula house, he casually noted that she had escaped from her enclosure (that was sat under Dale’s bed) and may be on the loose, so please don’t tread on her. Tread on her? By the size of her, I’d say she could bench-press me – even with this rice-belly I’ve developed.
Now Rusty has told me all about Tarantulas, and that they’re quite placid, and more like robots than out-of-control biting machines. Their bites apparently don’t hurt too much either. Thank god she’s not one of those killer, blood-sucking highly poisonous ones that makes your flesh rot, assuming you don’t die from the bite in agony first. Personally, I have never identified a dangerous one over a non-dangerous one but if they’ve got big fangs, generally they inject venom so I’m not fussy. I don’t want any of them on me.
So, yesterday I was just moving a tarp to protect the generator as the rain started falling quite heavily and I felt something land on my arm. I can only try to convey the emotion I felt during the next second or so after I looked toward my right arm by saying that my heart raced to well over 400 beats per minute, and the expression on my face made me look like a bearded pig.
Luckily, Martin was close by with the handy-cam! Great! Thanks Martin – I can see your priorities are in order! I screamed for Rusty to come and get this thing off me before I collapse in a heap of gibbering panic. I mean, what do you do when the biggest spider you have ever seen – even though you’ve seen dozens in the rainforest already this week, lands on your arm and has it’s fangs ready to inject you with something unknown?
Yes – I said unknown. This was NOT Priscilla! This was NOT a Tarantula! This was potentially the killer-spider of my nightmares! What if it bit me? Do I take off my shirt? Do I swat it away? Will it grab my hand and then swat me away? What if it runs up my arm onto my face? Will the bite kill me? Maybe this was a bit far, as I’ve already been told that there are no killer-spiders in Borneo, but tell my adrenalin gland that!
I can see that I’ve gone on about this quite a bit now so I’ll end by just mentioning that when Rusty, very professionally and calmly got the monster into a specimen pot, it had it’s fangs deep into my shirt. Luckily this was on a fold in the material so it didn’t get to my skin. I carried on shaking for ten minutes and kept asking the question, “Where the HELL did that come from??”.
This morning, the “specimen” had expired. She had died. I didn’t feel good about that, as I was looking forward to Rusty identifying her and telling me that I had survived the most heinous spider-attack any man has ever faced, and I could set her free, back into the wild where she can prey on other large mammals like deer and elephants. Although, it gave me a great opportunity to take some photos! I hope you like them.