12 Facts About The Goliath Birdeater, An Unexpectedly Gentle Giant

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


  • Like All Tarantulas, Their Eyesight Is Terrible

    Like All Tarantulas, Their Eyesight Is Terrible
    Photo: snakecollector / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Despite what you may surmise from looking at them, Goliath birdeaters are not perfect killing machines. Like all tarantulas and most spiders, they have incredibly poor eyesight. To make up for this, tarantulas hunt by sensing vibrations on the ground. When they feel something, they pounce on their prey and subdue it with venom.

    Tarantulas make up for poor eyesight by hunting at night, putting them on equal footing with anything that isn't an owl. Or Predator. But why would a tarantula hunt Predator? 

  • It's A Species Of Tarantula

    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.  

  • Despite The Name, They Mostly Eat Worms

    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. 

  • Children in Venezuela Hunt And Eat Goliath Birdeaters

    The children of Venezuela's Piaroa tribe hunt their own food from an early age. One of their favorite treats are Goliath birdeaters. According to members of the tribe, the spiders taste very good