The Colombian government is going after more than just Venezuelan migrants: An estimated 100,000 tarantulas have been confiscated on the border with Ecuador, according to Colombian news reports, many heading to Germany.
The spiders, usually blue and red in color, are among the most venomous snakes in the world, according to the American Museum of Natural History. They can be fatal to small children and anyone with weak immune systems.
“We found a very large number of them,” a Colombian Ministry of Agriculture official told RSN, a Colombian broadcaster. “So far a number of people who noticed them contacted authorities to call animal control. They are now undergoing experiments by the agriculture ministry.”
The tarantulas are unlikely to be repurposed as pets, but there are hopes they can be used to increase biodiversity in the Amazon, according to Reuters.
“The project will help the relocation of these burrows where the spider will live,” El Tiempo newspaper quoted Gabriel Pérez, director of the zoo of the Colombian Sucre province as saying. “The idea is that, in this way, the population of tarantulas in Colombia would be raised, allowing us to re-establish species once lost.”
The tarantulas will be housed at a sanctuary that will house Brazilian parrots, Lili the Macaw and flamingos.
An estimated 90 percent of the world’s population of tarantulas lives in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, where a worldwide push to save the disappearing Galapagos tortoise has improved the tropical’s biodiversity, according to the country’s Amazon Territory Development Corporation.