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Horrifying footage shows woman forced to drive for 20 minutes with massive spider inches above her head

Australia's a great place to take a vacation. You can go hot air ballooning in the Outback, and admire its rugged, red-rock beauty. You can go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and see a kaleidoscope of vibrant wildlife. You can check out fun cities like Sydney and stop by a touristy pub for some half-kangaroo half-crocodile pizza. Also, Australia just voted 'yes' to same-sex marriage, which is pretty ripper, mate.

But best of all, you might make a new animal friend. No, not kangaroos, koalas, quokkas or sugar gliders. I'm talking about a creature much more adorable: the huntsman spider!

Bianca Merrick, 24, was driving home, when she noticed the giant, hairy huntsman spider crawling across her passenger seat (presumably after yelling "shotgun!"). If I was driving and saw one of these things, I'd probably swerve into the ditch and run away, screaming "There is no God!" But Aussies are used to dealing with crazy-looking animals. Bianca recorded a video of the terrifying arachnid, and told Storyful about her encounter:

“I was on my way home from work when I looked up and saw it staring at me.

It was moving at me and had such long legs, it was disgusting. I was just freaking out, every time I looked at it I felt absolutely sick. I thought ‘if it lands on me, I am dead.'

I considered stopping but I didn’t know how I’d get it out of the car, so I thought the best option for me was to keep driving and pretend it wasn’t there for the longest 20 minutes of my life.

When I got home I slowly got out of the car, locked the door, went to sleep and pretended that it never happened.”

Huntsman spider in car in Australia Credit: Bianca Merrick

The huntsman spider definitely looks scary - conjuring up images of Shelob from Lord of the Rings. However, huntsman spiders are actually harmless, and almost never attack humans. They typically rely on their impressive speed to escape predators. If they do inflict a defensive bite, their fangs can puncture your skin, but the venom rarely has much of an effect. However, if it makes you feel better, you could carry around The Phial of Galadriel like Samwise Gamgee, and use the dazzling light of The Two Trees Of Valinor to scare the spider away. "Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!"

Actually, if you really do encounter a huntsman spider, don't scare it or squash it or pull out a magical present from Galadrie, the Lady of Lórien. Find a container, scoop it inside and release it back in the wild. Like all animals, they play a role in the ecosystem. An article in The Conversation explains their usefulness as "ambush predators," as well as why Aussies see them around so often:

"Huntsmen don’t use webs, but use a combination of vibrations and vision to locate their prey. Consider the huntsman a small workforce of natural insect exterminators in your house and garden.

During the day, most huntsman prefer to rest in retreats under bark, crevices or other protected areas. This is why so many people encounter the spiders under the sun visors of their cars or behind curtains in their homes, because those are perfect tight spaces for a sleepy spider."

So if you're in Australia, and you see one of these eight-legged freaks, just think "no worries, mate!" And definitely don't freak out like that American who burned his house to the ground trying to kill spiders with a blowtorch. That's a bit excessive.