ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Life Sciences»
  • Entomology»
  • Spiders & Arachnids

Biggest Spider in The World: Top 5

Updated on November 19, 2016
SuperBrainwave LM profile image

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Goliath bird-eating spider. According to the according to the Guinness World Records and most other authorities, this is the largest spider in the world, although the giant huntsman beats it purely on size of leg span.
Goliath bird-eating spider. According to the according to the Guinness World Records and most other authorities, this is the largest spider in the world, although the giant huntsman beats it purely on size of leg span. | Source

Spiders come in all shapes, sizes, behaviors, and appearances. This top 5 list focuses on the largest ones to be found on the planet.

Of course, you can measure "largeness" in different ways. That's why there is some dispute over which out of my top two is the biggest, as the giant huntsman has the bigger leg span, but the Goliath bird-eater has the bigger mass.

The Goliath bird-eater is generally considered the largest by most authorities on the subject, however, including the Guinness Book of Records.

Generally speaking, most big spiders in the world fall into the tarantula category, but I have chosen to also include some other types of arachnid in this top 5 list.

#1 Goliath Bird-Eater

The Goliath bird-eater (also sometimes known as the Goliath bird-eating spider) is a member of the tarantula family and generally accepted to be the biggest spider in the world.

Although the giant huntsman does have a bigger leg span, it is much smaller in terms of body mass.

Despite its name, the Goliath Bird-Eater rarely preys on birds, apart from young chicks. They like to live in swamp lands and marshy areas and are nocturnal.

These arachnids can be found in the upland rain forest areas of northern South America, in countries such as Surinam, Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela.

Goliaths are eaten by locals in some areas. They are roasted in banana leaves and supposedly taste like shrimp.

The Goliath Bird-Eater Bite

The venom used in a Goliath Bird-Eater bite is not usually lethal to humans, but the spider's one-inch-long fangs can deliver severe pain, nausea, and profuse sweating.

Heteropoda maxima: The giant huntsman spider.  Not discovered until 2001, the spider has the largest leg span of all the spiders at 12 inches, although it's not the biggest by mass. It lives in caves in Laos and feeds itself by hunting down its prey
Heteropoda maxima: The giant huntsman spider. Not discovered until 2001, the spider has the largest leg span of all the spiders at 12 inches, although it's not the biggest by mass. It lives in caves in Laos and feeds itself by hunting down its prey | Source

#2 Giant Huntsman

The giant huntsman spider is the biggest spider in the world purely in terms of its leg span, which can measure up to 12 inches in length, but it is smaller than the birdeater goliath by mass.

The spider is the biggest of the family of giant huntsman spiders that are large, fast arachnids who, as their names suggests, hunt their prey.

Incredibly, the first giant huntsman wasn't discovered until 2001, when one was found living in a cave in Laos.

Giant Huntsman and Webs

Huntsman spiders do not build webs and wait for their prey. Instead they hunt and forage for their food, sinking their fangs into the prey and killing it with their venom.

I turn into a crying, hysterical maniac when I see a spider. It's pathetic.

— Kate Dickie
The Salmon Pink is a popular pet amongst tarantula lovers, thanks in part to its attractive coloring, black body with vibrant pink markings.  Despite its full name, the spider rarely eats birds, focusing instead on insects, lizards, frogs and mice.
The Salmon Pink is a popular pet amongst tarantula lovers, thanks in part to its attractive coloring, black body with vibrant pink markings. Despite its full name, the spider rarely eats birds, focusing instead on insects, lizards, frogs and mice. | Source

#3 Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater

Another giant tarantula, the Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater (Lasiodora parahybana) or the Salmon Pink, as it is sometimes called, inhabits north-eastern Brazil.

This spider can have a leg span of up to 11 inches, especially the male which tends to be more "leggy" than the stockier female of the species.

Salmon Pinks are considered to be an attractive species of tarantula by many people, thanks to their combinaton of their uniform black colour, accompanied by pink-red hairs along the legs, chelicerae and abdomen

These spiders are also popular pets amongst spider oweners, due to their attractiveness, relative affordability, and ease of handling.

Brazilian Salmon Pink Tarantula Hunting Habits

The Brazilian salmon pink tarantula doesn't build webs, it lies in wait on the forest floor until a suitable prey comes along, and then strikes quickly, injecting the prey with venom to subdue it. Its venom is painful but not usually lethal to humans.

When I was a kid, I used to be afraid of the dark. I would stand at my door, turn the light off and dive into bed. One night, as I did that, there was this gigantic spider next to my pillow. I hit the bed and bounced straight back up When I turned the light back on, it was already gone. I could not sleep in my room for days.

— Brian Krause
These spiders have a powerfully venomous bite (generally believed to be the strongest in the world) and should therefore not generally be handled.  The spiders get their name because they wander around the jungle floor at night, looking for prey.
These spiders have a powerfully venomous bite (generally believed to be the strongest in the world) and should therefore not generally be handled. The spiders get their name because they wander around the jungle floor at night, looking for prey. | Source

#4 Brazilian Wandering Spider

As well as being big and scary looking, Phoneutria, or Brazilian wandering spiders, as they are commonly known, are also listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the most venomous spider in the world.

These spiders live mainly in South America, with one species in Central America. They are aggressive, the only reason that more people aren't killed by them is that there is an effective antivenom to counter their bite.

Spiders in the genus can have a leg span of up to 6 inches (15 cm). Their body length varies from 0.67 to 1.89 in (17 to 48 mm).

Wandering spiders get their name, because they wander around the jungle floor at nighttime, looking for prey, rather than staying home.

A Case of Misidentification!

In 2008 an employee at a grocery shop in Oklahoma mistook a harmless huntsman spider for the dangerous Brazilian wander spider, in a bunch of bananas. The misidentification resulted in a media frenzy and chaotic scenes.

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider. It got me as I was coming out of the shower. I'd never seen that kind of spider before, I'm from Canada and we don't get those types up there.

— Elisha Cuthbert
A golden silk orb-weaver spider.  The female of some types can have a leg span of up to 6 inches.  The spiders are famous for their complex and beautiful webs, woven with golden spider silk.  Orb weavers have been known to catch birds and snakes.
A golden silk orb-weaver spider. The female of some types can have a leg span of up to 6 inches. The spiders are famous for their complex and beautiful webs, woven with golden spider silk. Orb weavers have been known to catch birds and snakes. | Source

#5 Golden Silk Orb-weaver

Also known as golden orb-weavers, giant wood spiders, or banana spiders, a female golden silk orb-weavers can have a leg span of up to around 6 inches.

These spiders build impressive webs, which they mainly use to catch insects. They have been known to eat small birds and snakes too, occasionally.

These spiders live in the warmer regions of the world, including Australia, Asia, Africa, North America, and South America.

The spider's name refers to their webs which involve a fine-meshed orb make from golden silk, suspended in a maze of non-sticky barrier webs.

The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver Bite

The spider's venom is similar to that used by black widows, but much weaker. Unless you are unlucky enough to be allergic, which is are, a bite will usually just cause some redness, discomfort, blisters, and possible swelling for a day or two.

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.

— William Blake

© 2015 Paul Goodman

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Great hub! So many people don't like spiders so it's nice that someone has an appreciation for how amazing they are and all they do. Enjoyed the quotes also and all the videos - very nicely put together. Voted up!