Did you sigh in relief when that other dog-sized spider turned out to be just a cute Halloween costume?
You sighed too soon.
Scientist Piotr Naskrecki first encountered the Goliath birdeater, the world's largest spider, a few years ago, but committed the experience to posterity on his blog, The Smaller Majority, earlier this month.
Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, wrote that he was doing research in the rainforest of Guyana when he heard a “rustle” that he initially thought was a possum or a rat. Upon seeing it clearly, however, he realized it was a spider — the biggest, ickiest, hairiest spider in the world.
(Story continues after massive arachnid)
The Goliath birdeater, which belongs to the tarantula family, has a leg span of slightly less than a foot, and, according to Naskrecki, can weigh “about as much as a young puppy.”
In the blog post that’s sure to give you nightmares for weeks, Naskrecki describes the clicking, hoof-like sound that the spider’s feet make when they hit the ground, then goes on to detail the creature’s other terrifying behaviors:
First, the spider would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen. “Oh, how cute!” I thought when I first saw this adorable behavior, until a cloud of urticating hair hit my eyeballs, and made me itch and cry for several days. If that wasn't enough, the arachnid would rear its front legs and open its enormous fangs, capable of puncturing a mouse’s skull, and tried to jab me with the pointy implements. The venom of a birdeater is not deadly to humans but, in combination with massive puncture wounds the fangs were capable of inflicting, it was definitely something to be avoided. And then there was a loud hissing sound.
The scientist notes that even though Goliath birdeaters do have the ability to kill and eat a small bird, they “rarely have a chance to do so while scouring the forest floor at night.”
They do have the chance to eat mice, though, and National Geographic has some up-close, spine-chilling footage of the hairy beast doing just that.