Customs agents at Zurich Airport have blocked the delivery of 261 tarantulas shipped from the Dominican Republic.
The arachnids in question are Mexican redknee tarantulas – a protected species, according to a statement released by the Zurich customs investigation office on Wednesday.
Customs workers had found the individually-wrapped tarantulas packed in six cartons in August; ten of the large furry spiders had apparently died during the journey.
Zurich Zoo is taking care of the tarantulas for now; the creatures will eventually be placed in permanent homes. Their venom is not considered dangerous to humans.
The man who had ordered them is a Swiss spider breeder and dealer. When the authorities inspected his home they found 665 tarantulas as well as 72 meat-eating centipedes.
He had imported these illegally by post from central America, but he can keep them because their species are not under protection. However, he will be cited for breaching VAT law.
swissinfo.ch and agencies