Fun Facts About the Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula

by, Jo Carol Hebert


Afraid of Spiders! Well, who isn’t, except for Arachnologists (people who study spiders).  

Actual statistics record that 5% of the world population have certifiable arachnophobia.  

Spiders Unlimited

First, let’s ‘set the scene’ for the entrance of our star, the Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula (henceforth called the GB-ET).

There are 45,000 species in the Arachnid Family, including spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks.

All true spiders have 4 pairs of legs (8 total) and at least 4 separate eyes. Spiderlings, baby spiders can regrow their legs. Most spider species have the mild venom (poison) of a bee sting, which can be a problem if you have insect allergies. But, a few of these 8-legged creepy crawlers can be your worst nightmare, due to their unusual size and/or venom capacity.  

Most Dangerous Spiders in the World

Black Widow (only the female bites), but don’t stay around to check the gender. Scattered around the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and West Indies.  

Brown Widow has two times the venom of a Black Widow. All around the world in South America, California, Japan, Africa, and the United States Coastal areas.

Red Widow, or ‘red-legged’, grows up to 2 inches; mainly Florida.

Brazilian Wandering Spider, or ‘banana’ spider. Aggressive and highly toxic.

Sydney Funnel Spider. Big, brown, and feared in Australia.

Brown Recluse, or ‘violin spider’. Up to 1-inch. Packs a dangerous venom supply in its small body. Found in Western and Southern United States under rocks or wood piles.

Check out the slideshow of these most dangerous spiders (in the order they are mentioned).

The Tarantula Spiders

There are up to 900 Tarantula spider species. The species name is taken from similarities to the ‘Wolf’ spider of the town of Taranto, Italy. Now, you have your Old World and New World tarantulas, according to the location of their habitats. Old World tarantulas (Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe) tend to be larger, more aggressive, more ‘grumpy’ (bad temper), more prone to bite, and faster (10 miles an hour!). 

New World tarantulas (the Americas) generally are more solitary, docile, friendly, and easier to care for if you want one as a ‘pet’.  

Some are blue, but no one really knows why.

The Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula

That’s One BIG Spider!

Think of a measuring ‘ruler.’ Our Goliath tarantula is about ½ ruler size in body mass. The eight legs can be as long as a ruler (12 inches). They are not something you have to worry about unless you live in the deepest rainforests of the lower part of South America. The only other spider bigger is the worldwide Giant Huntsman Spider, larger by leg length.

Really, the GB-ET do not eat many birds, but they love frogs and snakes, which, also, love to eat tarantulas. Some Zoos feed them ‘cockroaches’ (good idea!)

Do the Math

‘Fangs’ on the 3rd and 4th pair of legs (equals 4 legs) fold up under the body. So, to impale (pin down) their prey, the GB-ET has to strike from above. The other 1st and 2nd pairs of legs (equals 4 more legs) are near the mouth and contain the poison, feelers, and claws. 

The venom turns the insides of the prey into a liquid and the tarantula dines on this ‘soupy’ remains of its victim.

Did You Know: GB-ET (Giant Bird-Eating Tarantulas)?

  • Female lives up to 30 years, male only 7 years
  • “Mother of the Year” –  unlike other tarantulas, females wrap their spiderlings in a ‘sac-ball’ of up to 1,400 eggs and carry them around until hatching.
  • The four pairs of legs (8) each have 7 bending joints, a very ‘bendable’ predator.
  • IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) listed tarantulas as DD: Data Deficient (not been evaluated for conservation statistics).
  • Are ‘ground spiders’ that live in silk lined underground webbed holes.
  • Have retractable claws at the end of legs (like a cat).
  • Can climb on smooth walls.

One Very Hairy, Scary Spider

These New World arachnids are nocturnal (come out at night). They like to be left alone and go along their way unless backed into a corner. 

But, if you see this spider on a moonless night – here are the signs that you have given him a fright!  

These tarantulas can launch hairy, sharp bristles from their body (take a baby step back). They can rub their hairs together to produce a  ‘hissing’ sound (take a giant step back). They rear up on hind legs to show large back-legged fangs (time to totally retreat and let this fuzzy creature have his space!)

So, here’s to spiders and other creepy things that we love to be, a little bit, but not very much afraid of.

Categories: Bugs

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