First pictures of rare wetland spider in Cambridgeshire

Rosser's sac spider
Image caption The Rosser's sac spider hunts down its prey rather than spinning a web

A spider that was feared extinct in the UK has been photographed for the first time after a new colony of the species was found.

The Rosser's sac spider, which had not been seen for 10 years, has been discovered at Chippenham Fen in Cambridgeshire.

It makes its home in wetland areas and had been found only once before, at Lakenheath Fen in Suffolk.

Fears were growing that the spider had died out due to loss of habitat.

The light brown spider was first discovered in the 1950s, but the draining of the fens and changing farming practices since the World War II had put it under threat.

Spider enthusiast Ian Dawson spotted a Rosser's sac spider in September at the Cambridgeshire site, and a further search in October revealed 10 spiders.

He said: "I was extremely surprised to find the first one and then when we went back a month later it was great to find more of them.

"If we've managed to find 10 of them, I think there must be quite a sizeable population of Rosser's at that particular site."

The first photographs of live Rosser's sac spiders were taken by Peter Harvey, who took part in the second survey.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of insect conservation charity Buglife said: "This spider is globally endangered.

"It's fantastic that it's still creeping around in the British countryside and we're ecstatic that people can now see what it looks like for the first time in history.

"If we want future generations to be able to see the live animal, we will need to take great care of the tiny remaining fragments of wild wetlands in this country and reinstate large areas of lost fen."

Mike Taylor, of Natural England, which manages the Chippenham Fen reserve, said: "Rosser's sac spiders spend their days hidden in tubular silken retreats, often in a folded leaf, a bit like a sleeping bag.

"It's a member of the clubionid family of spiders who like to hunt their prey rather than catch them in a web.

"We were delighted that they have been spotted recently."

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