The goliath bird-eating spider is the largest spider in the world in terms of mass, and the largest member of the tarantula family. Its appearance is a combination of light and dark brown colors. They live in the rain forests of South American countries like Venezuela and Brazil, and as their name suggests, they certainly can prey on birds. Two of the most notable defense mechanisms the bird-eater has are large two-inch long fangs that contain venom, and the ability to eject barbed hairs at enemies. Due to their aggressive nature, the goliath bird-eater is not recommended to be kept as a pet.
As a result of their large size, the goliath bird-eater is described to be approximately the size of a dinner plate. Furthermore, their distinct light and dark brown coloring may help separate them from other tarantulas. Even though it is part of the tarantula family, some other tarantulas are its natural enemies.
Bird-eaters are typically viewed as nocturnal. They inhabit burrows underground that they either dig themselves or find ones that were dug by other animals. Males tend to be more adventurous, travelling out longer and further than females do, though they still do not travel particularly far.
One common distinct feature of tarantulas are their long hairs. In fact, the goliath bird-eating tarantula even uses its hairs as a defense mechanism. This tarantula can shoot hairs from its body to deter predators or whatever it deems to be an enemy. This ability is quite impressive because this tarantula does not have good vision and instead relies on detecting movement with the hairs on their legs than their eyesight.
Another interesting ability the goliath tarantula has due to its hairiness is the ability to make a hissing noise by rubbing the bristles on its legs together. This can be used to act as a warning to stay away, or else you might get a face full of hair or a nasty bite from its fangs.
Speaking of fangs, the goliath bird-eater has two large ones that can be up to two inches in length. The venom contained in its fangs is not lethal to humans, and they tend not to bite people. However if they do, the bite wound would be extremely painful for many hours and some symptoms one might experience are sweating, swelling, and nausea.
Female bird-eaters are larger than their male counterparts and may attack and kill males that try to mate with them. Due to their large size, they even have the ability to prey on birds, though birds are not their primary food source. They will prey on anything that is roughly their size or smaller, like snakes, lizards, and insects. The venom they inject to their prey will be fatal, but thankfully not to humans.
Like a starfish, if the bird-eater loses a limb, it can eventually regenerate. Bird-eating spiders have lived up to 30 years in captivity, making it not only the biggest spider, but the longest living as well. Despite their longevity, they should not be kept as pets because their defense mechanisms coupled with an aggressive nature can make them quite a painful pet to keep around.
Photo Credit: earlysparrow