The next time you stay at a hotel in Tasmania, Australia, you might want to be on the lookout for possum-eating spiders. One couple staying near Mount Field National Park were horrified to find a huntsman spider eating one in their room.
On June 14, Justine Latton, who was visiting Tasmania with her husband Adam, took to Facebook to share two horrifying photos of the huge spider eating a dead pygmy possum. The post quickly went viral, racking up over 100 comments and 7,800 shares.
Australia Museum arachnology collection manager Graham Milledge told The Guardian Latton saw an unusual event. It is more common to see the huntsman spider eat things like small lizards and birds.
"It would be fairly rare," Milledge told the site. "It's the first time I've seen a pygmy possum as prey."
Charles Darwin University conservation biology professor John Woinarski added that the possum was likely an eastern pygmy.
"There are some habitat differences between the two species, and [an] eastern pygmy possum is more likely to occur in alpine and subalpine habitats, such as Mt Field," Woinarski told The Guardian.
Latton later told Fox News the spider was one of the biggest she had ever seen.
"Pygmy possums are quite common up there (Mount Field), we reckon the spider probably just saw an opportunity and went for it! It was one of the biggest huntsman spiders he'd ever seen," she explained. "And Tasmanian Pygmy Possums are the smallest of the pygmy possums, I believe. This one was about the size of a large walnut."
She continued, "This occurrence is very unusual, I'm told. Huntsman spiders will sometimes take a small lizard or frog, but mammals are not their usual diet. They had to catch the pair and release them outside, in order to open the door! But no spiders were harmed in the relocation effort (too late for the possum)."
While a few Facebook users were shocked and grossed out by the videos, but there were many others who were stunned by the photos.
"OMG what a once in a life time photo opportunity .... I would be so freaking excited if I were lucky enough to witness this ... not scary at all just interesting and such a mystery to how this all went down," one user wrote. "Would have been amazing to see from the onset of battle... would have been so hard to not step in and help the little possum though ... RIP little buddy
"Surely that must be a pygmy possum? Still...............stuff of nightmares!" another wrote.
"Justine this is so interesting. Nature never ceases to amaze me. I have cared for Pygmy possums at times and they are so small and delightful. Thanks for the post," another wrote.
Photo credit: Facebook/Justine Latton