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Goliath Birdeater Tarantula
The Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) is a spider belonging to the tarantula family. It is considered to be the largest spider (by mass) in the world. It is the second largest by leg span to the giant huntsman spider. The goliath birdeater is native to northern South America, primarily in the rain forest regions. They are a deep-burrowing species and live in burrows that either they have dug, or that they have stolen from other burrowing creatures.
Despite the name, the goliath birdeater does not usually eat birds. Like most tarantulas, they consume insects and other invertebrates. However, larger spiders have been seen feeding on rodents, frogs, lizards, and bats. Unlike other spiders, they don’t weave webs or chase down their prey. Goliath birdeaters use stealth and strength to sneak up on their victims. Once their prey is caught they inject a juice into them that breaks down the soft tissue so that the spider can easily suck out its meal.
The goliath birdeating spider bite is not typically lethal to humans. However, they do have fangs large enough to break the skin of a human (.75- 1.5 inches long) and, like all spiders, carry venom in their fangs. These spiders most often bite humans only when they feel threatened. In addition, they can control the release of venom into their victims and many bites like this to humans are known as “dry bites.” If venom is released their bites can cause pain at the bite site and nausea. The most unique behavior these spiders exhibit is the voluntary release of tiny hairs from their legs. When the spider feels threatened they will rub their abdomen with their hind legs and release hairs into the air that are a severe irritant to the skin. These hairs can be extremely harmful to humans if they make contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.
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