What is the biggest spider in the world?

How do you think people will react when they see the largest spider in the world? We've taken a look so you don't have to!

The Goliath birdeater spider is considered the largest known spider in the world.
The Goliath birdeater spider is considered the largest known spider in the world.  © 123RF / Wirestock

It's natural to be scared of spiders, even if most of them are pretty tiny. When we see a huge spider, though, it's natural for many to feel a sense of fear. These hairy beasts look nasty, and it's never good when you can actually see their fangs, but are they dangerous?

In this article, TAG24 will dive into one of the craziest animal records yet: what is the biggest spider in the world, how big is it, and what else do you need to know?

The biggest spider in the world!

There are two spiders in the running for biggest in the world: the Goliath birdeater spider and the Laotian Giant Crab Spider. In general, it is thought that the former species is generally the biggest, especially in terms of weight. But in some circumstances, the latter has really given the Goliath a run for its money.

Ultimately, though, the biggest known spider to have ever existed was a Goliath birdeater spider discovered in Venezuela in April 1965. This bad-boy was so huge that it could have covered an entire dinner plate, and lived in – you guessed it – the South American rainforests.

The biggest problem with all of this, though, is that the definition of "largest spider" is up for interpretation. We will go with the Goliath birdeater spider because Guinness World Records agrees with us, but if we were simply saying that leg span defines largeness, a 15-inch Laotian Giant Crab Spider discovered in 2001 would take the ticket.

How big is the largest spider?

The body of the Goliath birdeater spider can grow up to a whopping five inches in diameter. For context, that's about as long as a door handle. We haven't even mentioned its legs yet, and that's where things get truly mind-boggling.

Do you remember the world record holder we mentioned before? Well, that giant spider measured a 12-inch leg span. If that doesn't give you the shivers, then I don't know what will. On second thought, maybe that 15-inch Laotian Crab Spider will do the job...

Is the largest spider in the world venomous?

Goliath birdeater spiders eat birds. Yes, they're that big!
Goliath birdeater spiders eat birds. Yes, they're that big!  © IMAGO / Ardea

Look, if you bump into one of these monsters then you aren't going to be happy, but you probably won't die. While Goliath birdeater spiders will give you a truly horrific bite, their venom is usually harmless to humans. Of course, clean it properly and get it checked, but don't freak out too much – you'll probably be fine!

What's a little more freaky, though, is that these giant spiders have hairs that will actually sting you if you touch them. These hairs are similar to stinging nettles and contain venom. Again, this will cause quite a nasty and itchy rash, but it won't hurt you. That is, unless you inhale it, which can cause severe respiratory problems. If this occurs, go to the hospital.

This is darn good to know! The Laotian Giant Crab Spider is not particularly dangerous. It'll hurt if it nips you, but isn't venomous to humans.

The largest spider in the world is, unsurprisingly, not found in Europe.
The largest spider in the world is, unsurprisingly, not found in Europe.  © 123RF / Wirestock

Where does the biggest spider in the world live?

Let's do this one back-to-front: The Laotian Giant Crab Spider comes from, unsurprisingly, Laos. They generally inhabit caves within the South-East Asian country. Now, it's time for the real deal...

The Goliath birdeater spider is found in South America, mainly in Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Venezuela, and Brazil. In other words, mostly in the northern rainforests – particularly the Amazon.

The world's biggest spider is one chunky boy!

If you ever came across a Laotian Crab Spider or a gosh-darn bird eater, it probably won't matter to you that they're unlikely to attack. These chunky beasts are so big, so creepy, and so ugly that they'll instill fear into you from the moment you see them.

These spiders are so huge that they'll give you nightmares if you think about them too much. Just try to relax, as it's highly unlikely that either of these bad boys are going to crawl into your home.

Cover photo: 123RF / Wirestock

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