A listing of the world's largest tarantulas

The Biggest Tarantulas

What is the largest tarantula in the world?

It’s a fair question. Most people aren’t aware of just how big some spiders can get, but I’ll explain the maximum known sizes for these gargantuan arachnids. South America tends to be home to the big ones. So strap in, and let’s review the beasts…


World

Size: 10-12 inches
Demeanor: Aggressive

Goliath Bird-eating Tarantula (Theraphosa blondi)

There’s a Harvard entomologist (Piotr Naskrecki) who recently explained he was in Guyana on an expedition one night and heard an animal moving nearby, crumbling leaves under its feet. When he pointed his flashlight towards the disturbance, he expected to see a possum or rat. And that’s what he thought he was looking at initially.

But, he then realized it was actually a tarantula that apparently weighed nearly as much as a puppy. Goliath tarantulas can reach 170 grams in weight, which is well over one-third of a pound. This story helps illustrate just how massive these tarantulas can become.

Nearly twelve inches, from tip of leg to tip of leg. Imagine that for a second. This species got its name because some early explorers saw one consuming a hummingbird. The discovery was unique, however, because they actually don’t spin webs in the traditional sense—they are ambush predators that hunt on the ground.

In captivity, they will gladly consume live adult mice. It’s a bit gruesome, and I don’t personally feed my Goliaths live mice, but I’ve seen it happen number of times. I’ve even seen them consume small snakes.

Oh, did I mention this species can “hiss?” It’s not air, per se, but they use specially-designed hairs to emit a hissing sound. As if they weren’t intimidating enough, right?

Honorable mentions…

Here are a few more giant tarantulas that deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Goliaths. Why? Because in my experience, the below spiders can all attain massive sizes similar to Theraphosa blondi. Sometimes it comes down to the individual spider’s genetics, and the sex of the spider (male tarantulas can have greater legspans, but females heavier bodies).

For example, the Netherlands may be home to the tallest humans on average, but that doesn’t mean the tallest humans are all from the Netherlands. In other words, Goliaths are the biggest species of tarantula on average, but there may be individuals from other species that are as big or bigger. Make sense? So, in no particular order…


Largest tarantula

Size: 9-11 inches
Demeanor: Aggressive

Goliath Pinkfoot Tarantula (Theraphosa apophysis)

Some hobbyists believe the Pinkfoot is truly the largest tarantula in existence, claiming it can reach 13-inches in size. While there’s no question they reach monstrous sizes of 9-11 inches, I’ve not come across photographic proof of the 13-inch claim.

Highly sought after, they are somewhat difficult to find within the tarantula market. They are prolific burrowers, sometimes digging 20+ inches into the earth! I’ve found them to be the most aggressive of the Theraphosa species, when it comes to both biting and kicking urticating hairs.

They’re called “Pinkfoots” because when they are juveniles, the first two sections of their legs (called the tarsus and metatarsus) are pink in coloration. They can make exciting and impressive pet tarantulas.


Giant haitian bird-eater tarantula

Size: 8-9 inches
Demeanor: Very Aggressive

Haitian Giant Tarantula (Phormictopus cancerides)

Mainly from Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) where they enjoy digging burrows, these large tarantulas can attain a legspan of 8-9 inches. They’ve got a reputation for being very aggressive and very willing to bite. Their fangs are long and the bites are painful. Haitian giants have a respectable growth rate and can hit 3” - 3.5” within the first year.

The coloration of the males is impressive, but the females are a little more on the dull side. They are notoriously vicious feeders, seemingly always ready to pounce on any prey item. I’ve seen them take down mice, frogs, and huge roaches. They’re also known as “Haitian Bird-eating” tarantulas.


Brazilian giant salmon tarantula

Size: 8-10 inches
Demeanor: Moderate

Brazilian Giant Salmon Tarantula (Lasiodora sp.)

Certainly a rival for the title of biggest tarantula in the world, these spiders can reach a legspan of 8-10 inches. Unlike the Haitian giants, they don’t dig burrows. They’re readily available on the tarantula market, from babies to adults. In fact, spiderlings can reach legspans of six inches in just one year!

They have pinkish hairs around their body, thus the “salmon” in their name. Brazilian giants tend to do extremely well in captivity. They are somewhat regularly bred, which can result in 1,500 to 2,000 eggs! There are three species: parahybana, kluge, and itabunae—all of them are huge.

Potentially the heaviest tarantula in the world—females are heavier than males, but males have wider legspans. They spend considerable time out in the open making them a great display spider.



Huge tarantula

Size: 7-9 inches
Demeanor: Very Aggressive

King Baboon Tarantula (Citharischius crawshayi)

King baboons are known as much for their immense size as for their nasty disposition. They can be a bit of a reclusive species, often digging a burrow and remaining hidden for much of the day, or even days at a time. They’re probably the most aggressive of all the large species I’ve listed on this page, almost remarkably so. I’ve had them bare their fangs to me for minutes after an encounter.

They’re a fairly slow tarantula, but they will seek you out if you’re fidgeting in the enclosure, as they don’t like being disturbed. King baboons grow somewhat slowly, especially when compared to the rest of the tarantulas on this list. They can make squeaking noises via stridulation (rubbing their front femurs together) when irritated. No urticating hairs though, so that’s a plus. Just devilishly angry.



Largest spider

Size: 10-12 inches
Demeanor: Skittish

Giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda maxima)

While not technically a tarantula, the Giant huntsman spider is the largest spider in the world. It can reach a legspan of 12-inches, which is why I think it deserves to be on this list. Discovered only recently in Laos, this species “hunts” down its prey, rather than creating a web.

Considered somewhat “social,” Giant huntsman spiders are known to congregate in large numbers in the wild. Their lifespans are only 2-3 years, so not anywhere near that of a tarantula. Huntsman spiders move similar to crabs, which is why they are also called “Giant crab spiders.”

They are very quick and skittish, and have a flat appearance which comes in handy when squeezing between rocks and ledges in caves where they live.