Passengers on a busy train got more than they bargained for when they spotted a tarantula spider which had been left abandoned in a box.

The hairy arachnid, identified as a pink-toed tarantula, was spotted by passengers on a train arriving at London Bridge station.

The creepy crawlie, measuring 3.5cm in size, was discovered in a clear plastic box last Friday afternoon, and is thought to have been abandoned by its owner in the carriage.

While not venomous, a tarantula bite can pack a punch due its large fangs and is often compared to a wasp sting.

Shocked passengers contacted the RSPCA, who took it to specialists at South Essex Wildlife Hospital.

Animal rescue officer Mat Hawkins said: "Passengers got more than they bargained for when they spotted this little guy on the train.

"He was shut inside a plastic tub so we believe he had been abandoned in the carriage.

“Thankfully passengers alerted staff who kept him safe in their office until I could arrive to collect him.”

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Pink-toed tarantulas are native to Central and South America and islands in the Southern Caribbean.

Their name is based on the tips of their legs, which are peach in colour and helps them blend into their forest habitat.

While they are popular pets among tarantula enthusiasts, they require specialist care to mimic their warm and humid native environments.

Unfortunately many people are not aware of how much work is required to take care of exotic pets like tarantulas.

Impulse buying and lack of research into their individual needs mean many exotic pets are badly treated or abandoned.

Owners do not always understand the level of commitment needed, as the animals may become aggressive, grow very large, live for a long time or require a licence or paperwork to be legally kept or sold.

Mr Hawkins added: "Anyone thinking of getting any kind of pet should do lots of research first, using expert sources, to ensure that the species is right for them and that they can properly meet their needs."