The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider

Information about the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider (Birdeater), Theraphosa blondi

The Goliath Birdeaters are the largest spiders in the world. The world's largest spider, the Goliath Bird-eating Spider
The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider, over 8 inches across, is the world’s biggest spider!
They can be found in the rainforests in the northern part of South America. They have a long leg span – about 21cm (8.5 inches) when fully extended, and they weigh over 120g (4.2 oz). In the wild, Goliath Birdeaters love to burrow – they especially enjoy swampy areas. They can live between 15 to 25 years.

What Type Of Spider Is The Goliath Birdeater?

The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider belongs to a group of spiders called Tarantulas. Tarantulas (there are about 900 different types) are generally large, hairy, and make tubes of silk or burrows to live in. They are generally harmless to people.

Spiders are distinguished from other Scorpions and Mites and other Arachnids by the fact that they have fewer body segments, and they have spinnerets to produce spider silk.

Spiders, together with scorpions and other similar creatures belong to a group of animals called Chelicerates. These get their name from the sharp points at their mouths, called Chelicerae. The Goliath Birdeater is not the world’s largest Chelicerate – this honour belongs to a kind of Sea Spider called Colossendeis colossea.

Goliath Birdeater and banknote - public domain image
The Goliath Birdeater Near a Banknote

Are Goliath Bird-Eating Spiders Dangerous?

Generally, the Goliath Birdeater is not dangerous, so don’t be afraid of them! They do have fangs which are large enough to break our skin. There is venom in these fangs. However, they will only bite you if they think you are threatening them. Fortunately, the venom is quite harmless – it would only have the effect of a wasp’s sting. Birdeaters also protect themselves by kicking hairs off their abdomen, directing these hairs towards an attacker. These hairs will irritate the skin and lungs. Some people say that the hairs feel like shards of fiberglass. Birdeaters are very defensive. They make a hissing noise when disturbed. It makes this noise by rubbing the bristles on its legs together.

Does the Goliath Birdeater Really Eat Birds?

Surprisingly, Goliath Birdeaters do not normally eat birds. Since they live in burrows in the ground, they would very rarely have a chance to catch a bird. They would much more often make a meal of mouse or lizard. While eating, they will make sure that no other animals disturb them by making a web barrier. The Goliath Birdeater cannot see well, so it relies on vibrations in the ground. This is another reason why it would have trouble catching birds.

They varies in colour. They are dark to light brown with faint markings on the legs. Birdeaters have hair on their bodies, abdomens, and legs. The female birdeater lays anywhere from 100 to 400 eggs.