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Japan’s heated toilet seats leads to an invasion of deadly spiders6th of November 2014
Japan's penchant for heated toilets has resulted in an invasion of deadly redback spiders.
Redbacks first appeared in Japan in the 1990s, believed to have arrived on cargo ships from Australia. Experts initially believed the tropical spider could not survive the cold Japanese winters. But it is now thought that the heated toilets common in Japanese homes are providing them with a perfect winter hideaway.
Thousands of redbacks are now believed to be in Japan. Inhabitants of a residential district of Tokyo were horrified this autumn when around a dozen of the insects were spotted.
Japan is renowned for its high-tech toilets. Besides heated seats, Japanese loos often incorporate functions such as an integral bidet; blow dryer, massage facility, water jet adjustment, automatic lid opening and automatic flush.
The redback is one of the few species of spider that can be seriously harmful to humans. Its painful bite can lead to nausea, vomiting and headaches. Around 100 people in Japan have been bitten by redbacks but so far there have been no fatalities. However, the Japanese are ill-prepared for a redback invasion according to Dr Koichi Goka from the country's National Institute for Environmental Studies.
‘They have anti-venom in Osaka and Fukuoka but other provinces don't have supplies," he said. "So it's a serious issue and hasn't been addressed."