Three baby tarantulas have been found dumped in a car park – but their parents are thought to have escaped.
The RSPCA said the young Brazilian bird-eating spiders were contained in 10 pots found in Birchwood Lane, Somercotes, Derbyshire.
But two of the larger pots were run over by a vehicle and it is thought a pair of adult spiders may have been unwittingly released.
In a statement, the RSPCA said the tarantulas – which can grow to have a leg span of up to 10in – are not likely to survive for long in the UK climate if they have been set free.
RSPCA inspector Kristy Ludlam, who attended the scene, said: “The woman caller who contacted us was understandably shaken when she realised the pots contained spiders as she is terrified of them.
“It appears someone ran over two of the pots and the driver told the woman who called us he thought he saw two larger spiders.
“No bodies were found so it is assumed they may have escaped.
“We collected all the pots and took them to a specialist, who found three baby arachnids in them which he believes are bird-eating spiders.”
The inspector added: “It is likely that the spiders were unwanted pets which they may have been breeding and then decided to dispose of for whatever reason.
“The RSPCA would always ask people who are struggling to cope to let us know.”
It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to release or allow to escape any non-native species into the wild.