A Tarantula the Size of a Dinner Plate!

Yana Bostongirl

Are you one of those who are terrified of spiders? Then Theraposa blondi, otherwise known as the Goliath birdeater is guaranteed to scare your socks off.

According to reports, this massive tarantula is as big as a dinner plate and has no difficulty in devouring an animal the size of an opossum: "T. blondi‘s body size can reach up to 12 centimeters (about 5 inches), and if you add its leg span it measures up to 28 centimeters (11 inches). It weighs up to 170 grams (6 ounces)."

Contrary to belief, the Goliath birdeater does not like to eat birds. The reason why they were dubbed the Goliath birdeater is due to an 18th century painting that showed a tarantula, albeit not the T. blondi, devouring a hummingbird. The T. blondi, on the other hand, prefers to snack on insects and worms. It is also known to go after bigger prey like frogs, lizards, and on occasion, opossums.

The Goliath birdeater does not trap its prey in a web. Instead, it uses its formidable size and humongous fangs to subdue its prey. Its huge fangs which can be between 0.79 to 1.5 inches are not the only weapons the T. blondi has in its arsenal. It also possesses urticating hairs on its abdomen which can be released like a hail of tiny harpoon-shaped barbs on an aggressor: "When rubbing the hair together, the giant tarantula also produces a loud, hissing noise that can be heard from 4-5 meters (15 feet) away. The sound can sometimes deter predators, scaring them away."

The females are known to lay between 50 - 200 eggs in a giant silk sac which they then haul around until they hatch 6-8 weeks later. As per reports, Goliath birdeaters are found in the rainforests of South America and are very shy. This is what Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology told LiveScience: “I’ve been working in the tropics in South America for many, many years, and in the last 10 to 15 years, I only ran across the spider three times.”

They are sometimes caught and eaten because they taste like shrimp.

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Boston, MA

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