Harvard Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki recently posted on his blog about an encounter in Guyana's rainforest with a South American Goliath birdeater, a spider so large it's the size of a small dog or puppy. According to Naskreski, "Their leg span approaches 30 cm (nearly a foot) and they weigh up to 170 g."
As Naskrecki describes his encounter with the spider, it truly comes across as the stuff of nightmares. "The spider would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen. 'Oh, how cute!', I thought when I first saw this adorable behavior, until a cloud of urticating hair hit my eyeballs, and made me itch and cry for several days." The entomologist goes into further detail saying the spider was "capable of puncturing a mouse's skull, and would try to jab me with the pointy implements," and that it produced a large hissing sound.
Naskrecki notes that the spider is "pretty much harmless to humans," but for anyone with a slight affliction of arachnophobia, this spider is definitely going to leave many spider fear-mongerers feeling restless at home. For those feeling anxious though after viewing this mighty Goliath birdeater in all its hairy, hissing, eight-legged glory, keep in mind that this spider actually make sounds as it moves, so it would likely wake you before sinking its fangs into you during your sleep.
The spider itself might be a great pet for those who have mouse problems in their house, and don't mind the occasional hiss or wave of tear-inducing hair hitting their eyes. Since the spider is located in South America though, it's unlikely it will show up in pet stores anytime soon. But here's how the country would probably react to a Goliath birdeater roaming the streets.
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