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Goliath Bird-eating Spider

Range:

Northern South America


Habitat:

Rain forests, living in burrows in ground.


Characteristics:

This goliath has 8 legs covered in a dark brown hair and at each leg joint the hairs lighten to almost white. The cephalothorax (head) and abdomen are dark brown covered in reddish hairs, which gives it a golden-blond appearance. The two fangs are large enough to break the skin of a human, although it is considered fairly harmless to humans. It has 8 eyes but does not see well.


Goliath Bird-eating Spider Click to View Bigger Picture

Behavior:

This is a nocturnal spider that lives in deep burrows. They do not dig their own, but inhabit abandoned burrows dug by rodents and other small animals. These spiders do not form partnerships and are around other adult spiders only long enough to mate. It is a aggressive spider and when threatened, it has the ability to hiss loudly by rubbing the bristles on its legs together (called stridulation). They can also propel a cloud of hairs off their body at their attacker. These hairs are barbed and can cause severe discomfort and irritation.


Reproduction:

Male entices the female out of her burrow and they mate at the entrance. Several days later she lays her eggs in a silken sack. She then stores the egg sack in her burrow and protects it with a tough layer of silk. After an incubation period of 2 - 3 months the eggs hatch, revealing more than 100 spiderlings. These babies only stay in the mother’s burrow for their first few weeks, and then they move out to find a burrow of their own.


Interesting Facts:

The Goliath bird-eater was named during Victorian times when explorers in South America saw one eating a hummingbird.


Goliath Bird-eating Spider Click to View Bigger Picture

Conservation:

Tarantula populations are under pressure from habitat destruction, whether in tropical rainforests or in deserts. Many suffer the effects of pesticides used to kill insect “pests” that they depend on for food.


Did YOU Know?
All spiders are Arachnids, of which there are 35,000 species. There are 800 different species of the All spiders are Arachnids, of which there are 35,000 species. There are 800 different species of the big, hairy tarantulas.

Goliath Bird-eating Spider
Range
Class: arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Theraphosidae
Genus: Theraphosa
Species: blondi
Length: 11 - inch leg span
Weight: 6 ounces (170 g.)
Length: 11 - inch leg span
Average Lifespan: Females live an average life of 15-25 years. Males die soon after maturity, usually having a lifespa
Wild Diet: : Their regular diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates. Because of its large size it can also take small rodents, lizards, bats and, occasionally, small birds
Predators: Medium-sized rainforest mammals, tarantula hawks (wasp). Some people in South America eat these tarantulas after roasting them.
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building


Learn more about arachnida or animals from South America!
Or, cross-reference the two!

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