What is the largest spider in the world?



The United States is home to some nasty spiders, but most can be captured with an upside-down mug and sheet of paper. This is not the case with the Goliath bird-eating spider in South America. With a leg span of nearly a foot and weighing more than a third of a pound, the tarantula is the largest spider in the world.

According to National Geographic, the Goliath bird eater takes its name from an 18th century engraving depicting a relative of the spider hunting a hummingbird. In reality, they almost never eat birds. Insects are their meal of choice, although they are known to occasionally eat frogs, mice, or lizards.

Weigh more than some newborn puppies at 6 ounces, Theraphosa blondi does not have to weave nets to ensnare larger prey. It pounces on its victims and injects neurotoxins into them with its large fangs. The venom liquefies the creature’s interior, making it easy for the spider to slurp out the nutrients.

They weigh more than any spider on earth, but the goliath bird eater is puny compared to other predators in the rainforest. To protect itself, the species has developed a defense mechanism that uses the bristles that cover its body. When threatened, the tarantula vigorously rubs its hind legs against its belly, shooting its spiky hair in the air, and irritating the eyes, mouth, and skin of anyone unlucky enough to be around.

Neither a bite nor a hair-rocket attack from T. blondi would cause serious harm to a human, but if you are arachnophobic we still recommend avoiding it Woods from Venezuela, Northern Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. To observe the eight-legged giant from a safe distance, watch the video below.

[h/t National Geographic]



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