Imagine going for a nice walk in the middle of a rain forest and coming across a spider the size of an average puppy in the dark. That’s exactly what happened to Piotr Naskrecki, entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
According to Naskrecki, he was out for a nighttime walk in a forest in Guyana when he heard rustling leaves nearby, like something was creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, Naskrecki was expecting a rat or a possum.
But horrors of horrors. He came face to face with this sucker:
According to Naskrecki, at first, he had no idea what he was looking at. But as soon as his eyes adjusted to the light, he realized the creature staring back at him is no cute possum, it’s a furry spider the size of a puppy.
The creature is a colossal arachnid aptly called the South American Goliath Birdeater aka Theraphosa blondi. It’s only the world’s LARGEST arachnid. Naskrecki writes on his blog, one South American Goliath Birdeater reached up to a foot in length or about the size of a child’s forearm and a body the size of a large fist.
Apart from the imposing girth and its prickly defense, the South American Goliath Birdeater also has two inch long fangs and a venomous bite. The venom is not deadly to humans though, that should bring you some comfort tonight.
And despite its name, the South American Goliath Birdeater doesn’t really eat birds but they do kill small mammals like bats and frogs. The spider is pretty aggressive and will “attack anything they encounter,” adds Naskrecki.