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article imageVIDEO: How a giant spider Tarantula conquers a snake to eat

By Eko Armunanto     Jul 15, 2013 in Science
Theraphosa blondi is a spider belonging to the Tarantula family. Also known as Goliath Birdeater, the term is accurate as they do primarily prey on birds. The spider is native to the rain forest regions of northern South America.
Wild Goliath Birdeaters are a deep-burrowing species, found commonly in marshy or swampy areas, usually living in burrows that they have dug or which have been abandoned by other burrowing creatures.
As their name suggests, Goliath Birdeaters are certainly big enough to eat a bird, even a snake, although they rarely do, preferring smaller insects and invertebrates. It was a Victorian explorer who first reported these giant spiders and witnessed one eating a hummingbird. Like most tarantulas, Goliath Birdeaters are fairly harmless to humans. They only attack when threatened and their bite is no worse than the sting of a wasp ― to date there have been no reports of human fatalities due to this arachnid.
Tarantula’s venom, including that of the Goliath, is usually not lethal to humans, although the Goliath’s bite with its one-inch fangs can cause severe pain, nausea, and profuse sweating. Another serious weapon in a tarantula’s arsenal is its ability to release hairs from its body at any creature it perceives as a threat, including human. The tiny, almost invisible hairs that it voluntarily releases into the air are extremely irritating to skin, and can cause real problems if they get into delicate mucous membranes around eyes or mouth. As the largest spider in terms of mass, the Goliath Tarantula can grow up to nearly a foot across, weighing in at more than six ounces, with fangs that are over an inch long.
Goliath Birdeater
Goliath Birdeater
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The Goliath bird-eating spider is a solitary arachnid, and only associates with other spiders of its species when mating or guarding its young. Males can be identified by the mating hooks on the first set of legs. The male will come to the entrance of the female's burrow and try to entice her out. He will use his mating hooks when she comes out to restrain her fangs while he tries to mate with her. Afterwards he has to make a fast getaway or be injured or killed by the female. About 50 percent of the males are killed or maimed while trying to mate.
The female deposits about 50 eggs in a silken egg sack about one inch (three centimetres) in diameter, and stores it in her burrow. She guards it for six to seven weeks, even taking the sack with her when she leaves the burrow. After the young spiders hatch they stay in the nest until their first molt, and then go out on their own.
Pet lovers keep tarantulas at home with careful treatments, especially the bird-eating spider which, unlike the other kind, requires an appropriate habitat, fed well, regularly maintained and handled with care. With a potential leg span of up to 12 inches, the goliath needs a larger enclosure than most tarantulas. Goliaths should be fed larger prey like mice about once a month.
More about Tarantula, Goliath birdeater tarantula, giant tarantula spider
 
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