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Goliath Bird-eater Spider (Theraphosa Blondi) - The Largest and Biggest Tarantula in the World
If you have arachnophobia and small spiders give you the creeps, can you imagine coming face to face with a giant tarantula bigger than your hand? The Goliath Bird-eating Spider is the world's largest species of tarantulas. This big hairy bird-eating spider lives in a deep burrow in the ground, in the wet swamps and primary rainforests in South America.
The scientific name for this species of tarantula is Theraphosa blondi. The biggest ever spider recorded have a leg span of 30.5cm (12 inches) and weighs around 70 grams. Theraphosa blondi is venomous. Its body can be light brown or dark brown in colour, with thick hairy legs and a large abdomen. It will bite humans in self-defense and the venoms will cause swelling and pain.
The bird-eating tarantula is aggressive in nature. When it is at threat, it rubs the bristles on its legs to make a hissing noise to frighten off other creatures and humans. This hissing noise can be heard from 5 metres away. The bird-eater also has urticating hairs on its abdomen which it can flick with its legs. The microscopically barbed hairs can cause serious irritation to the skin, eyes and mouth. Therefore, extreme caution is to be observed if one is to keep the goliath bird-eating spiders as pets.
Theraphosa blondi aka Goliath Bird-eater Spider
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The Goliath Bird-eater is large enough to prey on small birds though it rarely eats them. It feeds on small snakes, beetles, other insects, lizards, frogs, even rodents and bats. It usually sneaks up to its prey and attacks them with its venomous fangs. The venom paralyses the victim which is then carried to the spider's burrow for devouring. As this giant tarantula does not have any teeth, it breaks down its food by regurgitating digestive juices onto its victim before eating. The liquefied victim is then sucked up by the tarantula. The leftovers will be discarded by the spider.
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Theraphosa blondi is a solitary spider, it only comes in contact with another spider of its own species during mating season. The male bird-eater will hunt down a female who usually spends most of her life in her burrow. He acts bizarrely by twitching and drumming at the entrance of the female's burrow in the hope that the female will reciprocate the actions. When the female finally comes out of her burrow, he will grab hold of her and restrain her fangs with the mating spurs on his legs while he tries to mate with her. This usually takes a couple of hours before the mating occurs. After mating, he has to make a fast getaway or risks himself getting injured or even killed by the female. The male tarantula usually lives for less than one year after mating while the female can live up to around 30 years.
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After laying about 50-150 eggs, the female will guard her burrow for about 8 weeks. The newly hatched Theraphosa blondi nymphs will stay in the burrow until after their first moult, thereafter the spiderlings are ready to leave the burrow and find their own dens.
Goliath Bird-eater Spider - Theraphosa blondi
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