Goliath: the world’s largest spider lives up to its name

Imagine a spider as big as a child’s forearm and weighing as much as a puppy!

The English call it Goliath birdeater (bird-eating Goliath). Scientists consider it to be the largest spider in the world. In short, if you’re arachnophobic, you shouldn’t stay long on this page. With its real name Theraphosa blondi, better known as the Goliath spider or Leblond’s mygale, this monster can reach the size of a puppy and have legs extending up to 30 centimetres long. Native to South America, the spider can weigh over 170 grams and has 5-centimeter-long fangs.

These giant spiders were named birdeaters because one of them was observed eating a hummingbird. However, they feed mainly on earthworms and other insects. Rest assured, they are not lethal to humans, but their fangs can cause some pain, itching and discomfort for days.

This species lives in the tropical rainforest, and is found in Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela. Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, captured a female specimen in Guyana and is currently studying it in a museum. He was just doing a simple hike, as can be done in this region. Piotr points out that this one is very rare:

I’ve been working in the tropics of South America for many years, and in the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve only come across the spider three times.

While the mygale is aggressive and its fangs dangerous (they can pierce the skull of a mouse), the Goliath spider makes much use of its defensive weapons. It has an abundance of ways of scaring off potential predators, including its stridulation. If this isn’t enough to scare them away, its bombardment of stinging bristles takes over. If this doesn’t scare off the predator, she won’t hesitate to bite.

Araignée Goliath, la plus grande et grosse araignée du monde

Females have a life expectancy of 6 to 15 years. Males from 3 to 6 years.

Some sources claim that the hunter spider(Heteropoda maxima) is larger, due to the length of its tentacular legs. However, in terms of weight and body size, it’s the Goliath spider that’s more imposing.

Araignée Goliath, la plus grande et grosse araignée du monde Araignée Goliath, la plus grande et grosse araignée du monde Araignée Goliath, la plus grande et grosse araignée du monde

These photos were taken by Piotr Naskrecki.

Does this spider scare you?

Sources: LiveScience, AzCentral, Mashable, Wikipedia