Meet the Goliath Birdeater, the largest tarantula in the world

Meet the Goliath Birdeater, the largest tarantula in the world

Let's be honest here; the idea of giant spiders roaming around have always terrified us. Your average spider already doesn't have the best PR, with many people harbouring a serious phobia of anything eight-legged and hairy. But the bigger they are, the more they frighten us, and humungous critters abound in our media even today. Just think of famous fictional big spiders, like Shelob from Lord of the Rings, or Aragog from Harry Potter.

Unfortunately, there are some spiders out there in the real world that can grow to truly frightening proportions. Okay, so maybe they're not as big as a car, but they're certainly not the kind of creepy-crawly you'd like to find scuttling around the inside of your bathtub.

Check out this creepy video of a bird-eating spider in the wild below:  

This creature is the Goliath Birdeater - and no, that name isn't a coincidence. These things are big and strong enough to eat sparrows, and they are the largest spider in the world in body size and mass (not leg-size, that's the Huntsman spider).

They usually grow to be around 11.9 cm ( 4.5 inches) in length, but some Goliath Birdeaters have been known to reach lengths of 11 inches, which is about as big as a dinner plate. Their leg span is an amazing 28 cm, and they can weigh a whopping 175 grams, which is a little less than half a pound.

As if that didn't make them terrifying enough, they can also regenerate lost limbs when they moult and shed their excess skin. They can shoot tiny barbed hairs from out the back of their abdomen and can lay up to 200 eggs per mating cycle. Although they do have fangs large enough to break human skin, they're not considered dangerous to us. They only bite when threatened, and although they are venomous, the effects of a bite comparable to being stung by a wasp.

Thankfully, you're unlikely to encounter one of these monsters in your home or back yard. They only inhabit the rain forests of northern South America, living marshy or swampy areas. Phew!