As if one wasn’t bad enough, there are actually two contenders for the title. Let’s get ready to compare and contraaaaaaaast!
The South American goliath birdeater spider weighs about six ounces. So does the giant huntsman spider. Both have been dubbed “The Biggest Spider in the World” and scientists still bicker over which one truly deserves the title.
The birdeater recently made waves after Harvard Museum entomologist Piotr Naskrecki encountered one during a hike in a Guyana rainforest. He heard some rustling near his feet and shined his flashlight towards the ground expecting to find a small mammal. Instead, he was greeted by a spider the size of a puppy. The leg span of the average birdeater can reach up to a foot, and their feet have hardened tips and claws which make a sound not unlike the clicking of horse hooves as they walk. The one Naskrecki encountered began rubbing itself up against his leg. At first, he thought it was just being friendly. Then he stepped back when he remembered that these spiders do this in order to releases hairs with super sharp microbes on them, which helps them fend off attacks from larger animals.
Birdeaters also have fangs that can grow up to 1.5 inches long. Despite their namesake, they prefer to dine on earthworms and frogs. Their bite is venomous but not enough to kill a human. Nevertheless, if one bites you, it’ll feel like it’s driving a nail into your flesh.
But don’t rule out the giant huntsmans just yet. Scientifically known as Heteropoda maxima, they’re considered the largest spiders in the world based on diameter. These rare arachnids also enjoy warm climates and they’re noted for their speed and stealth. They prefer to hunt down their prey rather than build webs. They’re also quick on their feet and can reportedly run a yard in a single second.
Their hunting skills are further aided by their venomous jaws and they love to chow down on cockroaches and other bugs. Unlike the more solitary birdeaters, the huntsmen are pretty sociable. They like to hang around in groups and they’re pretty romantic….meaning they aren’t like other spiders that eat their mates. The spiders’ mating rituals can run several hours and the male woos the ladies by drumming its palps on tree trunks. If you ever want to meet a hunstman, you can probably track one (or more!) in Laos.
Which spider do you think deserves the “World’s Biggest” title? Let us know your vote in the comments.