If you are arachnophobic, forgive us, but perhaps it will console you that, fortunately, this kind of spider does not exist in our areas. We are talking, in fact, about the tarantula goliath (Theraposa blondi), the largest and heaviest spider in the world.
The T. blondi can reach sizes up to 12 cm and, if the equation is added also the amplitude of the legs, it measures up to 28 cm. Its weight is 170 grams on average. The Goliath spider is improperly called “bird eater,” but these birds in its menu are rare (not impossible though).
The name can be traced back to an incision of the eighteenth century depicting another tarantula of a different species eating a hummingbird. T. blondi, in fact, prefers to devour insects and worms. Birds are difficult to catch but, if the occasion arises, it could add in its diet some birds, frogs, lizards and other amphibians. Some researchers also observed a tarantula goliath while feeding on a possum.
The tarantula does not live suspended with its web, but prefers shallow dens under the soil of the forest, which it covers with its web to improve the stability of the structure. The creature uses its hair – highly urticating – as a kind of armor to defend the attacks of predators and uses its powerful legs to wound enemies and preys to death.
The hairs, moreover, are very irritating and itchy and can be fatal for the smaller mammals, such as mice, that inhale them. By rubbing her legs on her abdomen, the tarantula will release the hairs in the air which, in turn, will inflict enormous damage. There may be larger spiders than the tarantula goliath, such as the giant spider hunter (Heteropoda maxima) who, counting also the legs, reaches 30 cm.
However, currently, Guinness World Records recognizes T. Bondi as the largest spider (it is definitely the heaviest of all known spiders). “It’s like comparing a giraffe to an elephant,” said Piotr Naskrecki, entomologist and photographer at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.
By the way: that’s why tarantulas can be found all over the world. Who would win in a battle between tarantula and scorpion?