Okay, so maybe the largest, the most terrifying, and ugliest tarantula may be a harmless little critter, but I would hate to find out. The largest spider known to man is called the goliath birdeater (GBE), and just taking one look at their menacing appearance will not give you the impression that they are safe for handling. However, despite what my own senses tell me, the GBE is, according to Harvard entomologist Piotr Naskrecki, is nearly completely harmless to humans.
Than again, as the good doctor Naskrecki warns, just because these monsters won’t kill a human does not mean that they cannot cause harm if you provoke them into hostility. The GBE’s fangs are relatively large, but its venom is not particularly toxic to humans, and even medical attention could be bypassed if a person were to become bitten by one of these giants of the spider world. Despite this, the GBE’s are in high demand as pets due to their relatively docile nature.
However, you still want to make sure to avoid getting the GBE’s brittle hairs in your face. For example, like many tarantulas, the GBE flings urticating hairs from its abdomen. The “hairs” are harpoon-like in shape, and these monsters need to be handled with gloves since they will toss their hairs if they are handled. Oh yeah, and these huge tarantulas are actually considered a delicacy and are enthusiastically eaten by people living in northeastern South America. Not only that, but after the tarantula meal, patrons will use the tarantula’s fangs as toothpicks. It looks like the people of South America have a head start on the whole “bug eating fad.”
Is the goliath birdeater able to consume whole birds?