Weird Nature 12 Facts About The Goliath Birdeater, An Unexpectedly Gentle Giant  

Aaron Edwards
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If you're reading this out of morbid curiosity because spiders freak you out, consider that most spiders you see are average-sized, relatively banal arachnids. What would do if you ran into the most massive spider in the world? If you ever find yourself in that position, you can take solace in the fact that it probably won't attack you. Believe it or not, despite its size, the Goliath birdeater is just another spider trying to make its way in the world. If you know a few amazing Goliath birdeater facts, you might even have a bit of fondness for these mammoth web-spinners. 

Being the biggest spider in the world comes with perks. Being bigger than the average human hand means you can take on large prey (it is, after all, called the birdeater, athough that's a bit of a misnomer), and not many animals will want to fight you. However, the Goliath birdeater isn't as deadly as some of its smaller brethren, who pack so much poison they could kill a horse with a few nibbles. Curious about spiders? Terrified of arachnids? Stoned and trawling the Internet? Regardless of why you're here, you'll find some dank, juicy morsels about the largest spider species in the world. 

It's The Most Massive Spider Species In The World

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Photo: Museum of Toulouse/Creative Commons

It should be no surprise a spider that can eat birds is huge. The Goliath is (quite literally) massive. It is the largest spider in the world in body size and mass. Its body length can reach 11.9 cm (about 4.5 inches) in length; some Goliath birdeaters have been known to reach lengths of 11 inches, which is about as big as a dinner plate.

Goliath birdeater leg span can reach 28 cm, and the spiders weigh around 175 grams, which is a little less than half a pound (what do you want, it's a spider, not an elephant). The only larger spider by any measure is the giant huntsman, which has a longer leg span

It's A Species Of Tarantula

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Photo:  Ryan Somma/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Goliath birdeater spiders are taxonomically classified as Theraphosa blondi. They belong to Arachnida Class, Aranea Order (spiders),  Mygalomorphae Suborder, and Theraphosidae Family. The latter makes them tarantulas, a family of spiders containing at least 947 species. Tarantulas are typically large spiders with hair on their legs and abdomen and two tarsal (at the end of the their legs) claws.

They are burrowing creatures that pose no serious threat to humans and can live as long as 30 years in the wild.  

They're Relatively Harmless To Humans

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Photo:  Fernando Flores/Creative Commons

The Goliath birdeater really just wants to be left alone. The only time they attack humans is when threatened. If you keep your distance, you'll be fine. While Goliath birdeaters are venomous spiders, they usually won't use their venom on humans. If they do, at worst you'll suffer some pain and swelling; their venomous bite is likened to a wasp sting. 

However, they usually deliver a dry bite, or one with no venom. 

Despite The Name, They Mostly Eat Worms

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Photo:  Heftrdevistating /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

While it's true Goliath birdeaters attack and eat small birds, they rarely manage to catch avian prey in the wild. In fact, they subsist primarily on worms, supplemented with typical giant spider fare such as insects, lizards, frogs, toads, and even the occasional snake.