Zhejiang customs have seized 90 live spiders from parcels mailed from Germany.
Exactly 81 Theraphosidae spiders and six sand spiders were mailed in boxes with labels saying “materials for study and research”. Customs officials believe the spiders were to be sold as pets.
Interestingly, Xinhua’s coverage of the story has made the seizure an issue of public safety, referring to Theraphosidae spiders as “aggressive and toxic”. However, Theraphosidae are in fact a family of spiders consisting of over 900 different species, including tarantulas, the vast majority of which pose no threat to humans.
Additionally, although Xinhua says the six-eyed sand spider is “among the world’s most virulent animals”, there has never been a proven case of a human being bitten by its extremely poisonous bite.
Importing live animals to China via luggage or mail is illegal, but that certainly hasn’t stopped people from trying. In September 2014, Wenzhou postal authorities discovered 22 live spiders in parcels mailed from Hungary. And in November 2007, Chinese customs said they seized and destroyed 100 Chinese bird tarantulas mailed from Thailand.