Do you suffer from a fear of spiders or arachnophobia? If so, you probably don't want to see the world's biggest spiders. But remember: knowledge is power! Get the facts about these creepy crawly species and find out exactly where they liveso that you can plan your vacation accordingly.
Key Takeaways: The World's Biggest Spiders
- Most of the world's biggest spiders belong to the tarantula family.
- The largest spiders can eat small birds, lizards, frogs, and fish.
- Giant spiders tend not to be aggressive, but they will bite to defend themselves or their egg sacs.
- Most large spiders are relatively nonvenomous.There are exceptions.
- Male spiders have specialized appendages called setae used to produce sounds for defense and sexual communication. The largest spiders produce sounds (stridulation) loud enough for humans to hear.
Goliath Birdeater: 12 Inches
The Goliath birdeater(Theraphosa blondi) is the world's largest spider by mass, weighing in around 6.2 oz (175 g). It is a type of tarantula. The spider can bite and sometimes delivers a venom comparable to that of a wasp sting. Its barbed hairs present a greater threat, as they can lodge in the skin and eyes, producing itching and irritation for days.
As its name implies, this spider sometimes eats birds. It does not eat humans. Instead, people catch it and cook it (tastes like shrimp).
Where It Lives: In burrows in the rainforests and swamps of northern South America. If you like, you can keep one as a pet. Feeding it birds is not necessary. The spider readily accepts insects as food.
Giant Huntsman Spider: 12 Inches
While the Goliath birdeater is the most massive spider, the giant huntsman (Heteropoda maxima)tends to have longer legs and a bigger appearance. Huntsman spiders are recognizable by the twisted orientation of their legs, which gives them a crab-like walk. These spiders can deliver a venomous bite that may require hospitalization. If you live in a warm climate, listen for the rhythmic ticking sound made by the males, which resembles that of a quartz clock. Walking in the opposite direction of the ticking sound protects you from the males, but the females do not tick. Take from that what you will.
Where It Lives: The giant huntsman is only found in a cave in Laos, but related enormous huntsman spiders live in all the warm and temperate regions of the planet.
Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater: 11 Inches
The third largest spider, the Brazilian salmon pink birdeater (Lasiodora parahybana)is only an inch smaller than the biggest spider. Males have longer legs than females, but females weigh more (over 100 grams). This large tarantula readily breeds in captivity and is considered to be docile. However, when provoked, the salmon pink birdeater can deliver a bite comparable to that from a cat.
Where It Lives: In the wild, this species lives in the forests of Brazil. However, it's a popular captive pet, so you'll see them in pet stores and possibly your neighbor's house.
Grammostola anthracina: 10+ Inches
Be sure to visit South America if you're seeking enormous spiders. Grammastola anthracina is another large species. It's a popular pet tarantula that's unlikely to bite you unless you forget to feed it mice or crickets. Grammostola species can live up to 20 years.
Where It Lives: This spider lives in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.
Colombian Giant Tarantula: 6-8 Inches
The Colombian giant tarantula or Colombian giant redleg (Megaphobema robustum)eats mice, lizards, and large insects, so you could keep one for home pest control. However, Megaphobema is best known for its aggressive temperament. It's not the bite you need to worry about. Real (or imagined) threats may cause the spider to spin, striking out with spiked rear legs.
Where It Lives: Find it in a pet store or near logs in the tropical rainforests of Brazil and Colombia.
Face-Sized Tarantula: 8 Inches
Tarantulas don't only live in Central and South America. The face-sized tarantula(Poecilotheria rajaei) has adapted to deforestation in Sri Lanka, to make its home in abandoned buildings. The spider's common name is self-explanatory. Its scientific name, Poecilotheria, translates from Greek to mean "spotted wild beast." It likes to eat birds, lizards, rodents, and even snakes.
Where It Lives: Old growth trees or old building in Sri Lanka and India.
Hercules Baboon Spider: 8 Inches
The only known specimen of the Hercules baboon spider was captured in Nigeria about one hundred years ago and resides at the Natural History Museum in London. It got its name from its habit of eating baboons (not really). Actually, it's named for the resemblance between its legs and a baboon's fingers.
The king baboon spider (Pelinobius muticus) lives in East Africa and slowly grows to 7.9 inches (20 cm). Harpactirinae is another subfamily of spiders commonly called baboon spiders. They are tarantulas native to Africa that deliver a strong venom.
Where It Lives: The Hercules baboon spider may (or may not) be extinct, but you can get somewhat smaller baboon spiders as pets (often inaccurately identified as the Hercules baboon). However, this tarantula seems permanently angry, and is not a good choice for a beginner.
Camel Spider: 6 Inches
This spider gets its name because it eats camels for breakfast (not really). The camel spider (order Solfigae) is often camel-colored and lives in the desert. It's sort of a cross between a scorpion and a true spider, with two gigantic chelicerae (fangs) that it uses for biting and for making creepy spider sounds (stridulation). Unless you're a sprinter, this spider can chase and catch you, with a top speed around 10 mph (16 km/h). Take comfort in the knowledge it is nonvenomous.
Where It Lives: Find this beauty in any warm desert or scrubland. You're safe (from this spider) in Australia. It has never been seen in Antarctica, if that helps.
Brazilian Wandering Spider: 5.9 Inches
It's not the biggest spider on the list, but it's the scariest. The Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria fera)or banana spiderlooks like a tarantula, but it isn't one. That's bad, because tarantulas, as a whole, aren't out to get you and aren't particularly venomous. The Brazilian wandering spider made the 2010 Guinness World Book of Records as the world's most venomous spider. Guinness doesn't have a category for aggressiveness, but if they did, this spider would likely top that list too.
When it's relaxing at home, this spider eats mice, lizards, and large insects. As its name implies, it wanders searching for a meal. Its travels have taken it to a Whole Foods in Oklahoma and a Tesco in Essex. The spider is said to be so venomous, it can kill a person within 2 hours. It's also said to cause a 4-hour erection in men. You can do the math and puzzle that one out.
Where It Lives: While it's from South America, you might encounter it in the produce section of your local grocery store. Large spiders on bananas are not your friends.
Cerbalus Aravaensis: 5.5 Inches
Dehydration and sunburn aren't the only threats you'll face if you find yourself in the hot sand dunes of the Arava Valley of Israel and Jordan. Be on the lookout for the largest huntsman spider in the Middle East. This spider constructs its den within the shifting sand, but comes out to party at night. Scientists don't think it's particularly venomous, but no one has tested the hypothesis.
Where It Lives: You should see the Sands of Samar before these unique sand dunes vanish, but do watch out for spiders. They mostly come at night. Mostly.
- Menin, Marcelo; Rodrigues, Domingos De Jesus; de Azevedo, Clarissa Salette (2005). "Predation on amphibians by spiders (Arachnida, Araneae) in the Neotropical region". Phyllomedusa. 4 (1): 39–47. doi:10.11606/issn.2316-9079.v4i1p39-47
- Platnick, Norman I. (2018). The World Spider Catalog, Version 19.0. New York, NY, USA: American Museum of Natural History.doi:10.24436/2
- Perez-Miles, Fernando; Montes de Oca, Laura; Postiglioni, Rodrigo; Costa, Fernando G. (December 2005). "The stridulatory setae of Acanthoscurria suina (Araneae, Theraphosidae) and their possible role in sexual communication: an experimental approach". Iheringia, Serie Zoologia. 95 (4): 365–371. doi:10.1590/S0073-47212005000400004
- Wolfgang Bücherl; Eleanor E. Buckley (2013-09-24). Venomous Animals and Their Venoms: Venomous Invertebrates. Elsevier. pp. 237–. ISBN 978-1-4832-6289-5.
The largest spider in the world is Theraphosa blondi, commonly known as the Goliath birdeater, according to National Geographic. This tarantula can reach up to 11 inches in length and weigh 6 ounces; this size is big enough to cover a dinner plate, says Guinness World Records.What was the biggest spider ever found? ›
The world's largest known spider is a male goliath bird-eating spider (Theraphosa blondi) collected by members of the Pablo San Martin Expedition at Rio Cavro, Venezuela in April 1965. It had a record leg-span of 28 cm (11 in) - sufficient to cover a dinner plate.Is there a spider bigger than the Goliath? ›
A spider can be classified as huge according to its weight/mass or the overall length of its body. In this regard, the biggest spider in the world in terms of its weight is the Goliath Birdeater, while Giant Huntsman Spider is the biggest in terms of its length and appearance.Is the giant huntsman spider bigger than the Goliath Birdeater? ›
The Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula is considered to be bigger than the Huntsman Spider because of its heavier body mass.Did giant spiders ever exist? ›
The Mongolarachne are an extinct genus of giant spiders that existed during the Jurassic period. To date, only two fossilised specimens have been discovered, the previously named Nephila jurassica specimen, which is an adult female, and the Mongolarachne jurassica male.What is the deadliest spider? ›
According to the Guinness World Records, the Sydney funnel-web spider, Atrax robustus, is the most dangerous spider to humans in the world. Native to Australia, this poisonous spider is found in moist habitats such as under logs or in gardens.What is the cutest spider in the world? ›
The Maratus personatus, or the masked peacock spider, was recently captured on camera doing an intricate mating dance. The arachnid, with its deep blue eyes, is only a few millimeters in length, and its semaphore style dance and overall soft furry appearance has led to it being dubbed the cutest spider in the world.What is the biggest spider in the jungle? ›
Tarantulas are the largest spiders in the world, and the Amazonian variety is the largest of them all. Anyone visiting the Amazon rainforest can be sure to spot them. In fact, it'd be hard not to – some adults can measure up to 13 inches across!
Nicknamed “Megaspider,” the arachnid measures 8 centimeters (about 3 inches) foot to foot, with fangs 2 centimeters (about 0.8 inches) long, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement Friday.Can a Goliath birdeater hurt you? ›
Although venomous with inch-long fangs, the Goliath Birdeater's bite will not kill a person. It will, however hurt quite a bit, and has been described as somewhere between the pain of a wasp sting and hammering a nail into your hand.
The Carolina wolf spider is found across North America and is the largest of its kind. The wolf spider typically measures 18-20mm for males and 22-35mm for females. The Carolina wolf spider is mottled brown with a dark underside. Males have orange coloration on their sides.Will a Goliath birdeater bite you? ›
They carry venom in their fangs and have been known to bite when threatened, but the venom is relatively harmless and its effects are comparable to those of a wasp's sting. Tarantulas generally bite humans only in self-defence, and these bites do not always result in envenomation (known as a "dry bite”).How big is the biggest house spider? ›
They range in size from the relatively small Tegenaria domestica to the quite large Tegenaria parietina, which can reach a leg span of 120mm (5 inches) in the adult male.What spider is bigger than a human? ›
The giant huntsman spider can grow to be 12 inches across, which is larger than a human head. Let's take a look at some common questions about one of the world's largest spiders.Did spiders live with dinosaurs? ›
As if dinosaurs weren't enough to contend with in the world of 165 million years ago, the Jursassic period had other frightful creatures roaming the Earth as well: giant spiders. In fact, a Kansas University researcher recently identified the largest known fossilized spider, a relic of the Middle Jurassic period.Did spiders live before dinosaurs? ›
The arachnid predated the first appearance of the dinosaurs by some 80 million years. As the BBC reports, "The 1.5 cm creature lived alongside the oldest known ancestors of modern spiders but its lineage is now extinct."How big were spiders 100 million years? ›
The creatures were tiny, with a body length of about two-tenths of an inch, including the tail.What is the fastest killing spider? ›
The 14 reported deaths each for the funnel web, which can kill in 15 minutes, and the redback, whose venom is even deadlier, exclude anaphylaxis, he said. The funnel web “classically speaking” is considered the world's deadliest spider because it “kills so quickly”.What spider kills humans the fastest? ›
Sydney funnel-web spider
It's extremely fast-acting venom makes it the world's most deadly spider; believed to kill in 15 minutes, it has 13 deaths recorded to it.
They do not have venom glands, fangs or any other mechanism for chemically subduing their food. Therefore, they do not have injectable toxins. Some have defensive secretions that might be toxic to small animals if ingested.
So unless they did a complete overhaul of their respiratory system, a giant spider wouldn't be able to get enough oxygen to move around. This could be related to why some giant dragonflies were able to fly around 300 million years ago, when the atmosphere contained more oxygen (35% compared to 21% now).How big is the biggest spider fossil ever found? ›
The biggest known fossil spider has been found in China, a new study says. Measuring nearly 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in length, the 165-million-year-old fossil was uncovered in 2005 by farmers in Inner Mongolia (see map)—a region teeming with fossils from the middle Jurassic period.How big is a Megarachne? ›
Megarachne servinei from the Permo-Carboniferous Bajo de Véliz Formation of San Luis Province, Argentina (32° 17′ S, 65° 25′ E), was described as a giant mygalomorph spider ('tarantula') and, with its body length of 339 mm, the largest known spider ever to have lived on Earth.Would humans exist without spiders? ›
Humans need spiders to survive. It is important to remember that spiders and other invertebrates – animals without spines – make up 98% of animal species. They are vital to the functioning of ecosystems; without them, the remaining 2% of vertebrates, including humans, could not survive.Did spiders exist with dinosaurs? ›
As if dinosaurs weren't enough to contend with in the world of 165 million years ago, the Jursassic period had other frightful creatures roaming the Earth as well: giant spiders. In fact, a Kansas University researcher recently identified the largest known fossilized spider, a relic of the Middle Jurassic period.Would we exist without spiders? ›
“If spiders disappeared, we would face famine,” says Platnick, who studies arachnids at New York's American Museum of Natural History, where a live spider exhibit debuted last month. “Spiders are primary controllers of insects. Without spiders, all of our crops would be consumed by those pests.”Is a tailed spider real? ›
No living spider has a tail, although some relatives of spiders, the vinegaroons, do have an anal flagellum. Four new specimens have been found, and all are tiny, about 2.5 millimeters body length, excluding the nearly 3-millimeter-long tail.Why are spiders so scary? ›
We found that perceived fear and disgust of spiders were triggered predominantly by enlarged chelicerae, enlarged abdomen, and the presence of body hair. Longer legs were associated with perceived fear as well; however, the presence of two eyes did not produce any statistical significance in terms of fear.How big was the biggest wolf spider? ›
The Carolina wolf spider is the largest species of wolf spider and can grow to 1.5 inches across. There are more than 240 groups of wolf spiders with hundreds of species, but scientists agree that the Giant Carolina Wolf Spider (or just Carolina Spider) is the largest wolf spider.How big is the biggest sea spider? ›
Sea spiders range in size from . 03 inches (1mm) to 20 inches (50 cm) in leg span — that's about as long as a housecat! In a phenomenon known as “polar gigantism,” the largest sea spider species live close to the North Pole and the South Pole.
It is a very large spider with a leg span of 22 cm and a carapace length above 3 cm.How big is the arctic wolf spider? ›
The Arctic wolf spider can live for at least two years, grows as long as 1.6 inches (4 centimeters), and is a carnivore.How big is a Goliath spider? ›
The Goliath bird-eating tarantula is the biggest tarantula in the world. The body measures up to 4.75 inches (12 centimeters) with a leg span of up to 11 inches (28 centimeters).