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12 Facts About The Goliath Birdeater, An Unexpectedly Gentle Giant

Updated February 3, 2020 990.4k views12 items

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

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  • Females Live For Decades, Males A Few Years

    Female Goliath birdeaters have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years but can live as long as 25 years in the wild. Males live three to six years, since they die not long after their first successful mating and reach sexual maturity at some point between the ages of three and six years. The longest a male has lived after mating is a year.

  • They Make Defensive Sounds Like Those Of A Rattlesnake

    Photo: Ltshears / Creative Commons

    When threatened, Goliath birdeaters rub their legs together to make an intense hissing that sounds like a rattlesnake. The sound is meant to scare potential threats so the spider doesn't have to fight for its life.

  • Three New Species Of Birdeater Tarantulas Were Discovered In 2017

    In March 2017, three new species of bird-eating spiders were discovered in the jungles of Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil by Caroline Sayuri Fukushima of the Sau Paulo Institute. The discoveries were part of a project to help better document and track tarantulas of the Avicularia genus, the classification of which Fukushima describes as "a huge mess."

    These animals belong to a different genus than the Goliath birdeater, which makes you wonder how many giant birdeating tarantula species there are in the world. 

  • They're Relatively Harmless To Humans

    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.