Spanning 7 inches with its legs and weighing nearly a quarter-pound,
this tarantula is the biggest spider in the world. It hunts big prey (but
not larger than itself), including insects, lizards, and frogs. Despite
its name, it rarely eats birds. During low water season, the bird-eater
lives in a burrow and prowls the forest floor at night. When the rains
come, it migrates into the trees. Tree trunks are highways for an assortment
of animals travelling up from the water to escape the floods and back
down when the waters recede. The tarantula waits in ambush and grabs the
food on the move.
Local people roast and eat these spiders, which are high in protein. But
they have to be careful when they handle bird-eaters, which can deliver
a painful, but nonlethal, venemous bite. The tarantulas als have irritating
abdominal hairs that can flick at the eyes and skin of attackers, causing
humans to itch and smaller animals to have more serious reacions.
From Amazon Rising: Seasons of the River. Shedd Aquarium.