What Is a Goliath Bird-Eating Spider?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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The goliath bird-eating spider is the largest member of the tarantula family. Its body colors are a combination of light and dark brown. These creatures can be found in the rain forests of South American countries such as Brazil and Venezuela, and they do actually possess the ability to eat birds. The spider has two notable defense mechanisms, which are fangs containing venom and the ability shoot its barbed hairs at its enemies. These creatures are generally described as aggressive.

When considering its size, the goliath bird-eating spider is commonly described as being about the size of a dinner plate. In addition to its notable size, the dark and light brown coloring may help to differentiate it from other spiders. It is a member of the the tarantula family, but some other tarantulas are considered its natural enemies.

The spiders are generally characterized as nocturnal. They live in burrows in the ground that they create or that were created by other creatures. The males tend to spend more time outside of their homes than the females, but the males do not generally travel long distances.


A common characteristic of tarantulas is that they are hairy spiders. The goliath bird-eating spider uses its hairiness for one of its defense mechanisms. This spider has the ability to shoot hairs from its body at whatever it considers to be an enemy. This ability may be considered fairly impressive because these spiders have poor eyesight and tend to rely more on the detection of motion than they do on vision.

This spider's hairiness gives it another ability that most other spiders do not have. It can break the silence by making a hissing noise. The sound is generated if the creature rubs the bristles on its legs together.

These creatures have fangs, and those fangs contain venom. It is not potent enough to kill a human being, however. These spiders do not usually bite people, but when they do, it is likely to be painful for several hours, and the victim may experience swelling, sweating, and nausea.

Female goliath bird-eating spiders do attack and often kill the male spiders that attempt to mate with them. These spiders also use their venom to catch their prey. They do have the ability to eat birds, but they often prey on other creatures, such as insects, snakes, and lizards.

If the goliath bird-eating spider loses a limb, it will grow back. The creatures usually live for about 25 years. Despite their long lifespans, these spiders are not recommended as pets due to their aggressive disposition.


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