Goliath Bird Eating Spider

The Goliath Bird Eating Spider is one of the 300 species of tarantula living around the world. It is also the largest spider in the world with a legspan of 10 inches weighing more than 6 ounces. As with other arachnids the goliath has eight legs. These legs are covered in a dark brown hair and at each “joint” they lighten to almost white.

The goliath also has two appendages close to their fangs that appear to be legs, but aren’t. These appendages are called pedipalps, they are feeling organs to help push food into the spiders mouth. The goliath’s mouth as in other tarantulas consist of jaws that move up and down instead of the normal side to side in other spiders.

The “head”, or cephalothorax, and abdomen are a dark brown covered by reddish hairs giving the spider a golden blond appearance. The coloration of this spider gives it its species name blondi which is the Latin word for blond, for golden.

Food

The Goliath Bird Eating Spider feeds on frogs, small snakes, beetles, lizards, and even bats. Occasionally, these spiders will take young birds from the nest giving them their name “bird eater”. The goliath sneaks up on its prey and pounces on it injecting it with poison from its venomous fangs.

Habitat

Coastal Rainforest regions of South America. Surinam, Guyana, and French Guiana.

Predators

The goliath has many predators, mostly medium sized rainforest mammals who dig the spiders out of their burrows. Humans in the rainforest regions are also a predator to these spiders, they find the goliath to be a delicacy roasted on the fire. The most dangerous enemy though is a wasp, know as the pepsis, or the tarantula hawk. This wasp paralyzes the goliath and drags it back to its nest to feed to the wasp larvae.

Social Structure

The Goliath Bird Eating Spider is a nocturnal spider that lives in deep burrows. They do not dig their own but they inhabit abandoned burrows from rodents and other small animals. These spiders do not form partnerships and are around other adult spiders only long enough to mate. The goliath is a very aggressive spider and it has many defense mechanisms for protecting itself.

When threatened the goliath, like other tarantulas, has the ability to hiss loudly by rubbing the bristles on its legs together, called stridulation. They also can propel a cloud of hairs off their body at their attacker. These hairs are barbed an cause severe discomfort and irritation.

Birth & Offspring

In spring or early summer the male entices the female out of her burrow and they mate at the entrance. Several days later she lays her eggs in a 30mm diameter sack. She stores the egg sack in her burrow and protects it with a tough layer of silk. If for any reason the female should want to leave the hole, usually to hunt, she will often take he egg sack along with her.

After an incubation period of 2 to 3 months the eggs hatch revealing more than 100 spiderlings. After birth the spiderlings only stay in the mother’s burrow for their first few weeks and then they find a burrow of their own.

Senses

Even though the goliath has eight tiny eyes their eyesight is very poor and is capable of not much more than distinguishing light from dark. This causes the male goliath a bit of trouble when it comes time to mate. When the male approaches, the female can feel him coming due to their extremely sensitive hairs which cover their bodies.

Since vibration is the way these spiders sense food coming the male has to be careful that the female does not attack. The sensitive hairs on the goliath’s body are also used for sensing air currents and humidity.

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