Arachnid experts are taking part in a conservation project to help one of Britain’s most endangered species, the Fen Raft spider.

Found at only three sites in the UK, Chessington Zoo has been entrusted with 200 babies from the Redgrave and Lopham Fen National Nature Reserve in Suffolk.

The project is coordinated by Dr Helen Smith, who is overseeing the journey to survival.

The spiders are considered endangered by UK law, and protected under the Wildlife and Conservation Act (1981); it is thought human development in wetlands has caused their depletion.

Due to their high mortality rate in their first months of life, spiders are separated in test tubes and individually hand-fed using handmade tubing and mesh, which is called a pooter.

They will be looked after by head of reptiles and birds Keith Russell and assisted by Leanne Thompson until October, when they will be released.

Mr Russell said: “They’re not a fluffy squirrel or a majestic dolphin.When people see a red squirrel, they know it’s endangered. When you look at a spider, they’re not what people think could be endangered."

The arachnid was named for their ability to float on fens and wetlands in their natural habitat.

How to hand rear a Fen Craft spider: I have a fear; a phobia so serious just the thought of it makes my skin crawl.

I was sent to Chessington World of Adventures to see the Fen Craft spider. And I am terrified of theme parks.

Thankfully, I have no issue with spiders, so off I went to meet keeper Keith Russell to learn how he is helping to hand rear one of the rarest spiders in the UK.

All the action takes place in a corner of a florescent lit room.

I am talked through how I must feed them: I tip the spider out of its test tube, remove the soiled cotton wool, and clean it and place fresh bedding using tweezers.

I suck up a fruit fly into a handmade tube and mesh, and deposit it within the spider’s grasp.

When October comes, and they are released into a reserve, they will just need time to complete their journey to survival.

It was an experience I wouldn't like to repeat, but I would feed a hundred spiders before I went on a rollercoaster.