By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
When insect expert and photographer Piotr Naskrecki took a nighttime stroll through a Guyana rainforest in South America, he didn’t expect to come across a puppy-sized “Goliath” birdeater spider! What he first thought was a fur-covered mammal turned out to be a member of the world’s largest spider species, the Theraphosa blondi.
Its leg span can reach a foot long, and the creature can weigh over 6 ounces, which is comparable to a puppy. Although the giant huntsman spider has a larger leg span, it is way more fragile than the Goliath birdeater spider, which is why Naskrecki says it’s “like comparing a giraffe to an elephant.”
As Naskrecki approached the freaky arachnid, it rubbed its legs against its abdomen, releasing a cloud of barb-filled hairs that can be “extremely painful and itchy” if they land on an animal’s eyes. Theraphosa blondi spiders also have 2-inch-long fangs, but Naskrecki says that these critters aren’t poisonous or dangerous to humans, and that “a chicken can probably do more damage”. Despite its name, the Goliath birdeater doesn’t usually consume birds, since it hunts the leaf litter on the ground where the winged animals are rarely found.
Featured image courtesy of Piotr Naskrecki. Image of Goliath size comparison courtesy of snakecollector on Flickr.