The Goliath bird-eater Spider (also called the Goliath Birdeater) (Theraphosa blondi) is an arachnid belonging to the tarantula group.
It is considered to be the second largest (See Giant huntsman spider) spider (by leg-span) in the world. The spider was named by explorers from the Victorian era, who witnessed one eating a hummingbird.
It is native to the rain forest regions of northern South America. These spiders have up to 11 inch (25 cm) leg span and can weigh over 6 ounces (170 g). Wild Goliath bird-eaters are a deep-burrowing species, found commonly in marshy or swampy areas, usually living in burrows that they have dug or which have been abandoned by other burrowing creatures.
Females always mate, but eventually kill their mates. Females mature in 3 to 4 years and have an average life span of 15 to 25 years. Males die soon after maturity and have a lifespan of three to six years. Colors range from dark to light brown with faint markings on the legs.
Bird-eaters have hair on their bodies, abdomens, and legs. The female lays anywhere, from 100 to 200 eggs, which hatch into spiderlings within two months.
The Goliath bird-eater is fairly harmless to humans, as are most species of tarantulas. Like all tarantulas, they have fangs large enough to break the skin of a human (1.9 cm to 3.8 cm).
They carry venom in their fangs and have been known to bite when threatened, but the venom is relatively harmless and its effects are comparable to those of a wasp’s sting.
Despite its name, the Goliath Bird-eater does not normally eat birds. As with other species of spider, (specifically tarantula), their diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates.
However, because of its naturally large size, it is not uncommon for this species to kill and consume a variety of vertebrates. In the wild, larger species of tarantula have been seen feeding on rodents, lizards, bats and even deadly poisonous snakes.
In captivity, the Goliath Bird-eater’s staple diet should consist of cockroaches (generally the Madagascar hissing cockroach, (Gromphadorhina portentosa), anoles, and an occasional small mouse.
Spiderlings and juveniles can be fed crickets or cockroaches that do not exceed the body length of the individual.