It's got everything you need for a "Charlotte's Web" Down Under. Idyllic farmstead, some pigs, a spider. But this is Australia, people, so don't expect some dainty barn spider here. This Charlotte is a huge huntsman.
The arachnid in these snapshots made an appearance at a farm animal sanctuary in Queensland's Brisbane Valley last year, but the photographs resurfaced on social media just recently – and the spider's size has inspired some pretty dramatic headlines. 

"Yes, she is very real and very large and not Photoshopped!" wrote Barnyard Betty's Rescue when posting the images to Facebook back in October 2015. The spider was moved out of harm's way using a broom (which gives us a handy size gauge), and then released in a safer spot on the farm – but not before being nicknamed after the word-weaving literary heroine. 

"She was a beautiful, calm spider, not aggressive in any way and like most spiders she just wanted to go about her business eating bugs and living in peace," added the sanctuary.

Supersized huntsman spiders have certainly been impressing us lately – especially when they insist on dragging their mouse meals around. Australia is home to some 155 species, and many of them are endemic – and big. Queensland's golden huntsman, for example, weighs in at over 5.5 grams, has a legspan of some 15 centimetres (six inches) and produces golf ball-sized egg sacs. 

In the original "Charlotte's Web", author E.B. White named his arachnid protagonist after a real spider he'd spotted in his barn – but he initially misidentified the critter as a gray cross spider, Epeira sclopetaria. "Charlotte Epeira" became "Charlotte A. Cavatica" only later, when an expert from the American Museum of Natural History correctly identified White's barn guest as Araneus cavaticusthe common barn spider, which usually grows to only around three quarters of an inch (20mm) in length. 

If you can identify the much bigger Australian Charlotte, drop us a line so we can add some science to her first name.

Top header image: Bill & Mark Bell, Flickr