One of the world's largest spiders has been discovered in southern England. Startled residents contacted the RSPCA after discovering a Huntsman spider the size of a man's hand on the wall of a house in Sevenoaks, Kent.

Photos of the arachnid show its legs stretching across the width of a brick.

The spiders are not indigenous to the UK – they are usually found in Asia, Africa and Latin America – and it is unknown how this one got to Kent.

RSPCA animal collection officer Louis Horton attended the house after initially thinking the call was a joke.

"I honestly expected to get there and find a big house spider or a toy spider or something silly but it was a Huntsman," he said.

"It wasn't a giant Huntsman but was big enough, it was about the size of the palm of my hand so it wasn't the usual spider you'd expect to find in your house!

"It was clinging to the outside wall of the man's house and he said it had barely moved since he first spotted it.

"I removed it, confined it in a box and took it to experts at Heathrow's Animal Reception Centre to be quarantined.

"Huntsman spiders can give a nasty bite so they were lucky they didn't get hurt. We would advise anyone who comes across any animal in distress to contact our 24-hour emergency line."

Huntsman spider
The Huntsman spider on the wall of a house in Kent RSPCA

It is unclear which subspecies of spider the Sevenoaks specimen belonged to – there are more than 1,000. The Giant Huntsman spider, regarded as the world's largest, can have a leg span of up to 30cm.

The spider usually feeds on insects.

Earlier in May, a bird eating spider the size of a man's hand was found in a plastic box in the street in Leicester.