World’s biggest spider adds more bite to Hastings aquarium

The goliath bird-eating spider is now on display at Blue Reef Aquarium.
The goliath bird-eating spider is now on display at Blue Reef Aquarium.

A giant tarantula, which can grow to the size of a dinner plate, has arrived at Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium.

The goliath bird eating spider is the world’s biggest tarantula species with a legspan of up to 30 cms - the size of a small pizza.

Despite its name this South American spider normally feeds on lizards, frogs, rodents, insects and other spiders using its massive three-centimetre-long fangs to kill its prey.

Blue Reef Aquarium’s Leanna Lawson said: “After spending a few days in our quarantine area, the spider is now on display in our ‘Jungle Room’ exhibition which is dedicated to exotic reptiles, scorpions, spiders and insects.

“Although the goliath’s venom is not lethal to humans, its bite can cause severe pain, nausea and sweating.

“The venom works on the nervous system paralysing its victims.”

Named after the biblical giant, the spider can weigh up to 100g.

It pounces on its prey, injecting venom from its downward-pointing fangs to immobilise it, before wrapping it in silk and transporting it back to its burrow.

Like most tarantulas, the goliath lives in underground burrows and is mainly nocturnal as they rarely travel more than a few feet from their silk-lined subterranean homes.

Unlike other spiders, who are virtually silent, the goliath bird eating spider can make a hissing noise to frighten off would-be predators by rubbing bristles on its legs together. They will also rear up on their hind legs in a threat posture.

As well as being the largest, the goliath bird eating spider is also one of the longest lived with some females reaching 30 years of age.

However males rarely survive for more than a year as around half of them will be killed by the female after mating.

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