Goliath Bird-Eater Spider
Goliath Bird-Eater Spider [Photo by John Mitchell/Getty Images]
The big spiders inhabit marshy land in the rain forests of nothern South America, where they can grow to a leg span of up to 12 inches (30 cm) and can weigh more than 6 ounces (170 grams). As with many other spiders, females may eat the males after mating. Partially as a result, males have a lifespan of 3 to 6 years, while females have a lifespan of 15 to 25 years.
Despite the spider's name, birds are not the main prey of the goliath bird-eater. They prefer to eat insects and other invertebrates, although they will occasionally eat small vertebrates. The big spiders are not generally considered dangerous to human beings, although they can bite if disturbed, leaving a wound about as painful as a wasp sting. They can also release hairs that irritate the skin.