This bad boy is the world’s largest spider and from Harvard entomologist Piotr Naskrecki’s description of his encounter with one, is the stuff of nightmares. According to LiveScience, Piotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat. Instead…
“When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing.”
What he was seeing was a South American Goliath birdeater spider which has legs about a foot long (the size of a child’s forearm), a body the size of “a large fist”, and weighs about ½ pound. That’s the size of a small puppy. If the size of the spider doesn’t freak you out, the horrifying sound it makes when walking through the forest will surely do the trick.
“Its feet have hardened tips and claws that produce a very distinct, clicking sound, not unlike that of a horse’s hooves hitting the ground.”
In addition, the birdeater spider’s body is covered with hairs with tiny hooks and barbs that make an eerie “hissing sound” when they rub against each other as the spider shifts its weight. “Sort of like pulling Velcro apart,” said Naskrecki.
Naskrecki said when he approached the spider, it began rubbing its hind legs against its abdomen. At first, he thought “Oh, how cute!”, but then realized the spider’s adorable behavior was shooting out a cloud of hair with microscopic barbs on them. This defense mechanism is intended to send a wad of painful, barbed spider web into the eyes and mucous membranes of its target. Naskrecki says he cried for a week after the attack.
And if all else fails, the birdeater spider can use its two inch fangs, capable of piercing the skull of a mouse, to inflict final punishment on its victim. Naskrecki says the bite won’t kill you but will be extremely painful, “like driving a nail through your hand”.
For those that just can’t get the terrifying picture accurately formed in their heads, you can visit Naskrecki’s spider in his lab. Yes, he captured the spider and took it home with him.