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Goliath Birdeater: The Biggest Spider In The World 

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula

Most people find spiders terrifying no matter their size. The Goliath Birdeater, the biggest spider in the world, will most definitely give anyone the creeps.

the biggest spider in the world
Image by Krysztof Niewolny via unsplash

Most commonly found in our homes, these eight-legged creepy crawly invertebrates come in many sizes. The average spider measures around a length varying between 0,02 – 3,5 inches (0.5 – 90 mm.) The Goliath Birdeater, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Its outsized body weighs almost six ounces (170 grams,) its body length is around five inches (13 centimeters,) and it has a leg span of about 12 inches (30 centimeters) – making it the absolute biggest spider in the World. 

According to National Geographic, this giant spider can be found in sizes big enough to cover a dinner plate. It is named Theraphosa blondi but is commonly known as the Goliath birdeater.   

It is nicknamed the Goliath birdeater because a spider from another member of the tarantula family was spotted eating a hummingbird. This led to the entire Theraphosa genus being nicknamed “bird eaters.” 

Keep reading to find out more about this fascinating eight-legged hairy creature that is the world’s biggest spider.

The Appearance of the Goliath Birdeater

goliath birdeater
Iamge by Angga Pramidata via unsplash

Multicolored hair (technically known as bristles) covers the body of this creature. They are commonly in shades of browns, varying between dark and light, with streaks of gold as well. Their body consists of two main parts: the head and the abdomen. They have eight legs, and like most spiders, they do not have an antenna. 

Regardless of having eight eyes, the goliath bird eaters’ eyesight is weak to the extent that they can only be dependent upon their hairy bodies to sense the whereabouts or movements of their surroundings. 

Additionally, these invertebrate predators have two hair projections on either side of the head called pedipalps and two-inch-long fangs on their bodies. These fangs play a crucial role in attacking the prey. The pedipalps help grasp the target, while the fangs inject venom to kill their dinner. 

Habitat of the Biggest Spider in the World

the biggest spider in the world
Image by Vinivius Low via unsplash

Unlike the commonly found spiders living in intricately woven webs, the goliath bird-eating spiders behave the opposite way. They inhabit moist and swampy areas abandoned by other animals. Usually they reside in rainforests like the Amazon in Northern South America, Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, French Guiana, and Venezuela.

The goliath birdeater is a nocturnal species. It dwells in deep and hidden caves or burrows throughout the day, creeping out at night only to hunt.

Average Life Expectancy

You would be amazed to know that the average life expectancy of the world’s biggest spider differs significantly between male and female Theraphosa blondi. The male spider has a lifespan of around three to six years. Frequently, they die as soon as they mate for the first time. 

However, the female enjoys the privilege of living longer, having an average of ten to fifteen years. Records show extraordinary exceptions living up to twenty-five years have also been recorded.

Reproduction Process 

Theraphosa blondi
Image by Ryan Hyde via unsplash

Stage One – Moulting 

The female birdeater goes through molting before mating, which is a prerequisite for the growth and life cycle. Molting is a phenomenon of skin shedding, just like the one snakes experience. A goliath birdeater breaks out from its old exoskeleton and matures into a new and more oversized coat while preparing its body for copulation. 

Had the female not experienced the process of molting before copulation, she would lose all the gathered sperm during the next molting course. 

Stage Two – Finding the Mate

As soon as both mates are prepared for copulation, the male birdeater enters the female habitat to entice her.

The male birdeater, recognized through its mating hook on the backside of its front leg, grabs its mate through the arch and locks itself in the female fangs. It is an ideal way of holding the female still while mating. 

The male birdeater must escape instantly after mating to halt the female from killing or injuring it.

Stage Three – Laying Eggs

After fruitful breeding, the female goliath birdeater laces a silk web to deposit around more than two hundred eggs at a time. The eggs are enhanced to be fertilized as soon as they leave the female’s body. 

After laying the eggs, the birdeater covers them in the shape of a sphere (approximately the size of a ball) that might contain approximately seventy spiderlings. She may withdraw from them to hatch in her habitation or carry them everywhere. 

As a safeguarding mechanism, the female guards the egg sacs by covering them with swindle hairs until they hatch. This process typically lasts around six to eight weeks, after which the eggs finally hatch, revealing lots of baby spiders that will eventually grow to be one of the biggest spiders in the world.

These mini creatures continue residing in the female habitat until their first molt. This is when they become self-sufficient and search for their own habitat for survival. These spiderlings take around two to three years to mature completely.

Defence Mechanisms

YouTube video
World’s Biggest Spider Gobbles Down an Unsuspecting Lizard. Source: Youtube, Uploaded: Smithsonian Channel

These spiders live under the forest floor, lining it with silk for more steadiness. This is the silk common spider species produce to weave webs. However, the birdeater does not incorporate any web for a living. 

While living in the forest, this species of spider is very aggressive. Unlike other spiders, who are noiseless, the Goliath bird-eating spider uses three ways to defend itself from any expected danger.  

#1 Making a Hissing Sound

Most spiders are noiseless. In contrast, Goliath bird-eating spiders make a hissing noise to frighten off any potential threats. The sound is a result of rubbing bristles on their legs together. They make a hissing noise loud enough to be heard 15 feet away.

#2 Shedding Off Hair From Its Abdomen

The hair is shaped like little harpoons if observed under the microscope. This shape of hair gives it a quality to entrench skin.

In case a danger is sensed, the birdeater very quickly rubs its fourth pair of legs on its abdomen to release the hair, which then becomes airborne. These hairs are merely irritating and itchy to large animals like humans, but at the same time, they can be fatal to smaller mammals. Like pepper spray, these tiny hairs can exasperate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. It is more likely that a person has a severe allergic reaction to these urticating hair than goliath venom!

#3 Displaying of Fangs

If both these ways of scaring away a threat are unsuccessful, it tends to stand on its hind leg. In this way, they form a threatening position. If the predator continues to show stubbornness and becomes a severe threat, the birdeater reveals its two fangs containing poisonous glands to release venom. 

Want to compare it to another sting? The venomous sting is sufficient to kill a more miniature mammal and would only cause swelling or irritation in larger mammals. However, spiders avoid using this defense mechanism since producing venom is painful and laborious. It only favors using this process while hunting for prey.  

However, birdeater spiders are most vulnerable when in the stage of molting. They can easily be attacked and devoured in this state.


Theraphosa blondi
Image by Frederico Faccipieri via unsplash

If one plans to keep this species of spider as a pet, the following are a few tips that should be given a close reading and kept in mind before making the decision. Many enthusiasts suggest purchasing a spiderling from a breeder when dealing with this species. This could be because it would allow the keeper to become acquainted with the peculiarities of the Goliath birdeater. 

Even as a spiderling, the birdeater has an insatiable appetite. By providing an appropriate temperature along with proper feeding and keeping, it has the capability to grow up to 4 inches in a year – no wonder it’s the world’s biggest spider.

As an adult, an enclosed space with dimensions similar to a 20-gallon-long aquarium is adequate. A bigger space than this would be a cherry on top for Goliath birdeater.

#1 Preferred Temperature

The Theraphosa blondi is a species that loves to take advantage of moisture. A water bowl is obligatory for your pet, overflowing into the adequate substrate to allow the correct humidity levels between 80 and 85 percent. The substrate should be damp but not excessively wet. Meanwhile, the humidity inside the compound should be higher; ventilation is essential to keep the air from becoming motionless.

A temperature between 75 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit is appropriate for this species, although inconsequential fluctuations will not harm them. All such minor requirements could be observed with the right equipment, such as hygrometers and thermostats. If your objective is to retain a Goliath birdeater tarantula that can grow substantially and live a long time, appropriate temperature and humidity are vital elements. 

Furthermore, as an additional tip for the keeper of such species, it might be beneficial to know that plastic enclosures allow for more straightforward modification. Still, many opt for low-lying glass enclosures as they provide a better view of their fascinating pet. 

#2 Soil

This species will burrow when given the accurate amount of substrate. A mix of almost four inches of organic soil, coco fiber, and peat moss can aid your spider in building the hiding spots that this species prefers and needs. 

A half-concealed piece of cork bark or wood can start the entrance of a burrow and also help reduce your spider’s stress.

Bird Eaters are somewhat messy eaters, so it is essential to take time to remove and spot-clean any remaining food boluses and potential mold growth.

Nutrition of the Goliath Birdeater Spider  

goliath birdeater
Image by Israel Delgadillo via unsplash

The name of this spider species would make people think that it feeds on birds, but it rarely hunts them. It eats other animals like frogs, snakes, insects, lizards, bats, rats, or even hatchlings that are easy to consume. 

The birdeater spider does not use conventional techniques of laying down a web to trap its prey. It hunts in its unique, straightforward style. It catches its prey off guard while hiding at night. They instantly sting them with the venom present in their fangs to stun the target. 

They carry the appetizing food to their burrows, where they can relax and enjoy the feast peacefully without any hindrance. It secretes digestive juices onto its hunt to decompose the skin tissues. Following this, they suck up the delicious liquid as its meal.

Can This Hairy Crawler Be Kept As a Pet?

Even though spiders don’t bite (unless daunted), their multi-legged body is spooky enough to terrify most people. Though the Goliath’s venom is not lethal to humans, a bite would sting about as much as a wasp’s. 

Furthermore, spiders do have emotion, but unlike a dog or a cat, they won’t affiliate with you. They likely won’t even recognize you. They aren’t hardwired to be acquaintances to humans. As an essential piece of advice, they shouldn’t be kept as pets if you are looking for true companionship.

Goliath Birdeaters are not usually kept as pets. The birdeater is not a safe or friendly option for this purpose. Orb Weaver, Black Widow, Huntsman Spider, Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, Fishing Spider, Green Lynx, Curly Hair Tarantula, and Crab Spider could be considered if you want a pet spider. 

The Goliath Birdeater As a Mouthwatering Meal

Regardless of the dangers that it comes with, a goliath birdeater is considered a scrumptious meal by locals in northeastern South America. 

Many of the locals enjoy them as a delicious snack. They burn off the urticating hair, then wrap the spider in banana leaves before roasting. Being the biggest spider in the world they provide a substantial amount of meat. The white muscle ‘meat’ tastes just like smoky prawns, while the gooey abdominal contents get hard-boiled in a rolled-up leaf and have a gritty and bitter taste. 

Is the Goliath Birdeater Dangerous to Humans?

YouTube video
The Biggest Spider on the Planet | Bite, Sting, Kill. Source: Youtube, Uploaded: Nat Geo WILD

As the most giant spider on earth, Goliath Birdeaters are actually not the deadliest. Its venom is trivial to humans, similar to a wasp sting. But, it is not their fangs that should worry you about a goliath birdeater. If they are frightened by a human, they may start to “hiss”. This “hiss” is a defensive sound to frighten predators. If you pay heed to it and back away, it is improbable you will get bitten as they tend to only bite in self-defense.

Learn interesting facts about the Goliath Birdeater by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Goliath Birdeater Have Any Predators?

Predators could include spider wasps, snakes, and other tarantulas. Smaller insects can take advantage of a freshly molted tarantula.

Does the Goliath birdeater bite humans?

It is not the fangs one should worry about with a goliath birdeater. If a goliath feels threatened by you, it may start to “hiss .”This hissing is a defensive sound meant to frighten predators. If you listen and back away, it is unlikely that you will get bitten as these tarantulas only bite in self-defense.

Are Goliath birdeaters aggressive?

Goliath bird-eating spiders are nocturnal. They live in burrows that other small animals have abandoned and are highly unsocial, only interacting briefly during the mating process. Typically they are very hostile and defend themselves by stridulation (a warning sound) and throwing barbed hairs from their abdomen.

Can a Goliath birdeater eat a bird?

As a defense strategy, the goliath bird-eating spider can also stand up on its hind legs to display its large fangs. As its name hints, this species eats birds and almost anything smaller than its size, including invertebrates and mice, lizards, frogs, and birds.

Can you buy a Goliath Bird Eating Spider?

The Goliath bird-eating spider is among the antagonist species of spiders. Its behavior and temperament may vary, but Goliaths are known to be a little more restless, panicky, and aggressive if they sense danger. Although they can be kept as pets, there are many other spiders that are more suitable for this purpose.

Is the Goliath Bird Eating Spider Endangered?

The world’s biggest spider still needs to be evaluated or classified by the IUCN. However, deforestation and habitat destruction highly threaten the Goliath birdeater’s presence in the wild.

The Final Word 

Goliath Birdeater. Ryan Somma, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Goliath Birdeater. Ryan Somma, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Key Points
The body of this creature is covered in multicolored hair (technically known as bristles), commonly in shades of browns, varying between dark and light, with a streak of gold as well.
The male spider has a lifespan of around three to six years and they die as soon as they mate for the first time. 
While living in the forest, this species of spider is very aggressive. Unlike other spiders, who are noiseless, the Goliath birdeating spider uses two ways to defend itself from any expected danger.  
A water bowl is obligatory for your pet, overflowing into the adequate substrate to allow the correct humidity levels between 80 and 85 percent. 
While being the most giant spider in the World, Goliath bird eaters are indeed not the most dangerous. Its venom is trivial to humans, almost equivalent to getting stung by a wasp.

By now, you should possess all the essential knowledge you need to understand the lifestyle of an enormous spider in the World, the Goliath birdeater. 

Even with its massive size and terrifying appearance, it is a comparatively calm species of spider that does not threaten its surroundings unless looking for food or safeguarding itself. As we know, humans are a great danger to wildlife. The relentless urge to carry out urbanization is a serious threat to all the wildlife that exists at present.

Therefore, humankind must continue the conservation of wildlife species, including the Goliath bird-eating spiders, to keep a balance in nature and not disrupt our beautiful planet’s ecosystem. 

Thank you for reading this article on the biggest spider in the world! If you’re still in the mood for more freaky animals, take a look at our post on the Black Wasp & 30 Spiders Found in Florida & What Would Happen If They Bite You.

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