Theraphosa blondi (Goliath bird-eating spider)

Theraphosa blondi, the Goliath bird-eating spider, is the world’s heaviest spider. The heaviest on record was a captive adult female called Rosi, which topped the scales at 175g.

It usually feeds on insects such as crickets and beetles, but it also eats small mammals, frogs and reptiles, injecting venom into its prey with its 20mm fangs.

Although formidable to look at, a bite from this species is apparently no worse than a wasp sting.

Young Theraphosa blondi spiders take 2–3 years to mature, and female adults can live for up to 20 years. They are often kept as pets.

Like other tarantulas, Theraphosa blondi continues to moult into adulthood which enables it to regenerate any limbs that have been lost or damaged.

The species was first described in 1804 by Pierre André Latreille, a French arthropodologist.

Species detail

Distribution and habitat

Theraphosa blondi is most frequently found in mountain rainforests in:

  • Southern Venezuela
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • French Guiana
  • north-eastern Brazil

This spider requires a habitat with high humidity. It lives in burrows, under fallen logs or in cavities under rocks. The biggest threat to this beautiful species is habitat destruction and loss.

  • Theraphosa blondi fangs
    Biology and behaviour

    Although called a bird-eater, this formidable-looking spider rarely eats birds. The female can live for up to 20 years. Find out more about this species’ lifestyle, and the tactics it uses to fend off potential predators.

Author

Janet Beccaloni
Curator of Arachnida and Myriapoda
Department of Entomology

A word from the author

"I had a pet Theraphosa blondi called Tracy for many years, which was given to me as a present from a friend, Warren Spencer, who worked in the invertebrate section at London Zoo. I was very upset when she died - I now have her pickled in a jar at home!"

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References

Beccaloni, G (2010) Big Bugs Life-size. Natural History Museum Publishing.

Beccaloni, J (2009) Arachnids. Natural History Museum Publishing.