Scientific Name: Therophosa blondi
Bird-eaters, like other spiders, must shed their skin periodically as they grow. To do this successfully a constant humidity of over 90% is required during the process. If these conditions are not present, the spider cannot extricate itself from the old skin and it will die.
Generally recognised as the largest species of spider in the world, the female goliath bird-eater can attain a leg span of over 30cm, weigh in excess of 200gm and have fangs 2.5cm long - truly an awesome spider. The general body colour is a chocolate brown, though this may vary somewhat depending on locality. The body is covered in fairly short hairs, whilst those on the legs are much longer. The abdomen has ample irritant or urticating hairs that they readily flick into the air if annoyed.
The goliath bird-eater is at home in the hot steamy tropical rainforests of northern South America. They use their long fangs to excavate burrows, usually at the base of large rainforest trees. The burrow mouth is oval in shape and is lined with a thin layer of silk.
Despite their name, these spiders do not survive on a diet of birds. In fact most specimens never eat birds depending more on large insects, lizards and frogs. However, they are certainly large enough to catch and overpower chicks of ground nesting birds if given the opportunity. In captivity they will readily consume young mice without any problem.
Goliath bird-eaters are a long-lived species, with records of females living for over 18 years. Males and females are similar in size and general appearance. After mating the female may store sperm in special sacs for long periods of time until she produces eggs, which are then fertilized. However, if she sheds her skin before the eggs are produced all the stored sperm will be lost as the external skin also lines the sperm sacs.