What would you do if you were walking along the forest and stumbled across what you thought was a small furry animal — but it turned out to be a MASSIVE spider?
That’s exactly what happened to Piotr Naskrecki during a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana. He heard a rustling sound of a critter at his feet & turned on his flashlight.
“When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing,” said Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
It took a second, but that’s when he realized he was looking at a ginormous spider.
Known as the South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), the colossal arachnid is the world’s largest spider, according to Guinness World Records. Its leg span can reach up to a foot (30 centimeters), or about the size of “a child’s forearm,” with a body the size of “a large fist,” Naskrecki told Live Science. And the spider can weigh more than 6 oz. (170 grams) — about as much as a young puppy, the scientist wrote on his blog.
Some sources say the giant huntsman spider, which has a larger leg span, is bigger than the birdeater. But the huntsman is much more delicate than the hefty birdeater — comparing the two would be “like comparing a giraffe to an elephant,” Naskrecki said.
As Naskrecki moved in closer to the spider, he noticed the creature rubbing its legs against his abdomen. As it turns out, the spider was brushing off hairs that have microscopic barbs on them. Whenever they get caught in a predator’s eyes or any mucous membranes they are “extremely painful and itchy,” and can stay there for days, he said.
Lucky for him, the venomous spiders aren’t deadly to humans. While a bit from the creature would really hurt, it’s not nearly life-threatening. They attack anything they encounter, but primarily feed on insects and earthworms that come out at night.
After catching the specimen he found in Guyana, which was female, Naskrecki took her back to his lab to study. She’s now being studied in a museum.
We have absolute no desire to go to Guyana. In fact, we’ll stay away from neighboring countries just to be safe.