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7 Cool Facts & Care Tips for Goliath Birdeater Tarantulas

Learn seven cool facts about Goliath Birdeater Tarantulas and how to take care of them from Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.


Here it is. Arachnophobia in a box. This is the animal that conjures up the willies in most people, most people period, but anyone who has an innate fear of spiders. Wow, is this the one that gives them nightmares. The Goliath bird-eating tarantula is the largest species in the world. There are many types of Goliath bird-eaters. What I have here is one from South America. They get about 10, 11 inches across. We always describe it as "as big a dinner plate." That's a formidable animal. The fangs are gigantic on this creature, and the venom that it can deliver is toxic, very, very bad venom. And it delivers a lot. Like all tarantulas, not a deadly venom, but a venom that's powerful.

And there's a lot of it. It's going to be extremely painful, and you are not going to be happy if this tarantula gets a hold of you and bites you. So we're going to leave him in the box for today. But the thing we're most concerned about with this tarantula, and all the species from North and South America, is the way they defend themselves. They may rear up and show you their fangs and say, "Check this out." They may confront you and stand up on their hind legs almost and say, "Hey. Back up." But if they're really in danger, they actually turn around and use the other side of their body as a defense mechanism. And that would be this large round piece here, which of course is the abdomen on the tarantula. The abdomen is covered with hairs, the hardest word to say today, the urtocating hairs, which are on the back of a tarantula, which to me are just the irritating hairs.

They'll take their hind legs and they'll flick those hairs. They'll chop them off the back. You can see this tarantula actually has a little bit of a bald spot on its abdomen, because it's so used to flicking those hairs whenever danger come around it. If those hairs get airborne, if you looked under a microscope, they have like little arrow tips on them. They stick into everything that they encounter. That's your eye, your skin, your nasal passages, your mouth. It irritates, and it's almost like having fiber glass in your face. Very, very irritating item. In the old day, they had a gag gift called itching powder in which they would mix talcum powder with those hairs from these types of tarantulas and deliver an irritating gag gift called itching powder. So we want to be very careful we don't disturb the animal too much. If you keep one of these, please be an advanced keeper.

They can be picked up, but they are immediately going to flick those hairs. The hairs are going to come off its body naturally. They're going to get into your skin. They're going to get all over everything. Sometimes you look in the cage, it almost looks like it's hairy because the tarantula's kicked off so many hairs inside of his enclosure. It's a great animal to look at in a terrarium, or very heavily planted vivarium would be my way to do this. But it's not one you want to handle a lot or mess with at all. The Goliath bird-eater. Do they eat birds? There's another myth about the animal. I think when they found this animal it was on top of a bird carcass. But contrary to popular belief, their favorite food is not birds. They will eat small mammals for sure, but large insects make up the majority of its prey and its food. So the Goliath bird eater is an advanced keeper. You need a good sized cage for this animal, hiding spots, and a lot of plastic gloves to keep a Goliath bird eater. Good luck with that one.

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