The Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), also called the Bird eating spider, is a tarantula, which is arguably the largest spider in the world. Native to the rain forest regions of northern South America, these spiders have an average 30 cm (12") long leg span when fully extended and usually weigh over 120 grams. Wild Goliath birdeaters are a deep burrowing species, found commonly in marshy or swampy areas. Goliath bird eaters usually live in burrows in the ground that they have either dug themselves or have been previously abandoned by rodents or other creatures.
All Arthropods have uniform characteristics throughout their body anatomy. All have exoskeletons, but the Arachnids are different because they are composed of two main parts: the abdomen and the prosoma or cephalothorax, connected by the pedicel. Within the abdomen are the brain, heart, the silk gland and spinneretts used for spinning silk webs, sexual organs, excretory system and eggsacs for females. In the Cephalothorax is the excretory system (it runs throughout the whole body), the eyes, the eight legs, ( All Arthropods have 6 legs, except Arachnids, which have eight, and any other Arthropods with more or less than 6 legs are larvae), the two jaws (chelicera) and the two feelers (palps). The males have a bulb at the end of their palps. These are filled with semen before copulation and are used to inject the semen into the sexual organs of the female. There are usually eight eyes on the prosoma, but this can vary. For instance, in Europe, spiders with six eyes can be found. Outside of Europe, you may find spiders having no eyes or as many as twelve eyes.
The Goliath Birdeater reproduces sexually along with all other Arachnids, and the females carry the eggs. The female lays anywhere from 100 to 400 eggs, which hatch into spiderlings within two months. On the end of most male birdeater's fifth legs are the palps with bulbs they use to inject sperm in the genital openings of a female. Prior to copulation a male fills its bulbs with sperms by weaving a small web. On the web he drops some droplets of sperm from its genitals and sucks the sperm into the bulbs. When you see spiders mating, it may look as if the male is attacking the female, however, it's merely injecting it's sperm into the female's sexual organs.
After mating, the males of some species must be extremely careful. Sometimes the female tries to kill the male for an easy meal, but often the male escapes. The males of some species do not care anymore to live longer and are eaten without objection. Other species live together happily for a long time after mating. There is a great diversity in sexual behavior among species. The males of most species do not live long after mating because their goal has been reached and their purpose fulfilled. Females often live longer than males. Some females die after the eggs have hatched and some females are even eaten by their offspring. Others may live on for years. Most females guard their eggs and youngsters, like shown in the picture. Birdeaters mature in 2 1/2 - 3 years and females have an average life span of 6 to 14 years. Males die soon after maturity and have a lifespan of 3 to 6 years.
Despite its name, the Goliath birdeater does not normally eat birds. Rather, it eats mostly invertebrates such as crickets, mealworms and moths, and also small vertebrates such as frogs, mice, and lizards. However, it IS aptly named for the birdeater, because it's been known to eat birds, and chickens. In South America, farmers find this aggravating for chicken farming and breeding when birdeatrs are living in the area. The birdeater will wait in it's burrow, and when the chicken gets close enough, the birdeater will kill it with it's poisonous fangs, but the chicken won't go down without a fight, it will usually defend itself by pecking at it or cawing for other chickens, but the birdeater's venom works fast. The Goliath birdeater is one of the few tarantulas which can capture and eat a full-grown mouse.
Bites And Treatment
Although there are no substanial reports of fatalities due to spider bites, they are still significantly dangerous and should be regarded with extreme caution, because there have been instances of severe pain, loss of appendages, ( i.e., arms, legs, fingers ), and death. If you do get bitten, encourage bleeding to wash out the puncture wounds from within. Then, clean the bite area with soap and water to protect it against infection. Wounds should be monitored for heat, redness, or other signs of infection. Skin exposures to the urticating hairs can be treated by applying and then pulling off some sticky tape such as duct tape, which carries the hairs off with it. If any breathing difficulty or chest pain occurs, go to a hospital as this may indicate an anaphylactic reaction. As with bee stings, the allergic reaction may be many times more dangerous than the toxic effects of the venom.
- Goliath Birdeater Wikipedia
- The anatomy of a spider by Ed Nieuwenhuys
- Theraphosa blondi by O. Rehak
- Birdeater killing prey Angelfire