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The Goliath Bird-eating Spider (also called the Goliath Birdeater) (Theraphosa blondi) is an arachnid belonging to the tarantula family, Theraphosidae, and is considered to be the largest spider (by leg-span) in the world. The spider was named by explorers from the Victorian era, who witnessed one eating a hummingbird. It is native to the rain forest regions of northern South America. These spiders have up to a 12 inch (30 cm) leg span and can weigh over 6 ounces. Wild Goliath birdeaters are a deep-burrowing species, found commonly in marshy or swampy areas, usually living in burrows that they have dug or which have been abandoned by other burrowing creatures. Females mature in 3 to 4 years and have an average life span of 15 to 25 years. Males die soon after maturity and have a lifespan of three to six years. Colors range from dark to light brown with faint markings on the legs. Birdeaters have hair on their bodies, abdomens, and legs. The female lays anywhere from 100 to 200 eggs, which hatch into spiderlings within two months. The Goliath birdeater is fairly harmless to humans, as are most species of tarantulas. Like all tarantulas, they have fangs large enough to break the skin of a human (.75 to 1 and a half inches). They carry venom in their fangs and have been known to bite when threatened, but the venom is relatively harmless and its effects are comparable to those of a wasp's sting. Also when threatened they rub their abdomen with their hind legs and release hairs that are a severe irritant to the skin and mucus membranes. Tarantulas generally bite humans only in self-defense, and these bites do not always result in envenomation (known as a "dry bite"). The Goliath birdeater has poor eyesight and mainly relies on vibrations in the ground that it can sense from its burrow. Despite its name, the Goliath Birdeater does not normally eat birds. As with other species of spider, (specifically tarantulas), their diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates. However, because of its naturally large size, it is not uncommon for this species to kill and consume a variety of vertebrates. In the wild, larger species of tarantula have been seen feeding on rodents, lizards, and even bats. In captivity, the Goliath Birdeater's staple diet should consist of cockroaches, anoles, and an occasional small mouse. Spiderlings and juveniles can be fed crickets or cockroaches that do not exceed the body length of the individual. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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