The World’s Largest Spider Is as Big as a Newborn Puppy

The United States is home to some nasty spiders, but most of them can be apprehended with an overturned cup and a sheet of paper. That’s not the case with South America’s Goliath bird-eating spider. With a leg-span measuring nearly a foot wide and a weight exceeding a third of a pound, the tarantula is the largest spider in the world. The spider gets its name from an 18th-century engraving that shows a relative of the arachnid preying on a hummingbird. In reality, they almost never eat birds. Insects are their meal of choice, though they have been known to chow down on the occasional frog, mouse, or lizard. Weighing more than some newborn puppies, it doesn’t need to weave webs to ensnare larger prey. It pounces on its victims and injects them with neurotoxins using its large fangs. The venom liquefies the creature's insides, making it easy for the spider to slurp out the nutrients. To protect itself, the spider has a defense mechanism that uses the bristles covering its body. When threatened, it vigorously rubs its back legs against its abdomen, shooting its barbed hairs into the air and irritating the eyes, mouth, and skin of anyone unlucky enough to be nearby. Fortunately, it can't do any serious damage to humans, though the look of it might frighten you to death.