Forget the spider dog prank, this is an actual spider the size of a puppy! The South American Goliath birdeater may be the worst thing that exists: a spider so big you’d probably just want to hand it your wallet and run if you ever crossed paths with it.
Sure, the notion of a spider crawling up under your skin is pretty freaky, but it turns out that spiders don’t really do that. What some spiders actually do, though, is grow to the size of dinner plates and run around hissing and biting things.
Piotr Naskrecki came across this massive beastie earlier while trekking through the rainforest in Guyana. [Hat-Tip: Gizmodo India. Pro-Tip: Don’t go to Guyana.] According to Naskrecki, he walks slowly through the jungle, so as not to disturb anything, “listening to the sounds of the night in a complete darkness.”
“I heard the rustle of an animal running,” Nasrecki writes. “I could hear its hard feet hitting the ground and dry leaves crumbling under its weight.”
When he flicked on his flashlight, this is what greeted him.
Now, we know what you’re thinking – “Kill it with fire!” – and that’s totally understandable, but you’re missing the enormity of the situation. This is a South American Goliath birdeater, the largest spider in the world.
How big? Their leg span reaches nearly a foot, and they weigh more than a third of a pound. That’s the size of a young puppy.
They also come equipped with hardened tips and claws on their feet. Those tips and claws make noise when the Goliath walks, something “not unlike a horse’s hooves hitting the ground,” according to Naskrecki.
It is the only spider in the world that makes noise when it walks. It can also produce a loud hissing sound. It wants you to know it is coming for you.
Lest you think the horror show is over, you should know the Goliath packs heat. Naskrecki was hit with the spider’s urticating hairs. Those are barbed bristles that cover the Goliath’s abdomen, bristles that it can throw at potential attackers. Naskrecki was hit in the face and eyes, and he says they caused him itching and discomfort for days after.
Topping it off, the massive spider has “enormous fangs, capable of puncturing a mouse’s skull,” and it’s not afraid to use them. The Goliath’s venom isn’t deadly to humans, but the massive puncture wounds the fangs can inflict aren’t fun.
Also, hapless victims have been known to die from cardiac arrest just at the sight of a spider that big biting into them. That last part is made up, but it sounds about like what would happen.
So, what does a spider the size of a puppy eat? Oddly enough, the South American Goliath birdeater doesn’t get around to eating too many birds. They typically scurry along the forest floor at night – clacking and hissing and generally being the stuff of nightmares – and the birds are usually up in the trees. Because there are giant freaking spiders down on the ground.
If a Goliath runs across a bird’s nest, it will eat the eggs, but Naskrecki says that they mostly eat earthworms, which are prevalent in the rainforests where it lives.
Naskrecki has actually run across Goliath birdeaters multiple times. A few years after he first ran across a specimen, he was walking alone in the rainforest of Suriname and nearly tripped over one.
Let’s say that again, in case you didn’t quite catch it: He nearly tripped over a spider. The rainforest has an unknown amount of spiders running around that are so big you can trip over them.