This Puppy-Sized Spider Will Haunt Your Dreams

PHOTO: The South American Goliath birdeater has the body size of a fist and a leg span the size of a small child. PlayGetty Images/Gallo Images
WATCH Giant Rainforest Spider Rivals Puppies for Size

If you didn’t have arachnophobia before now, this puppy-sized spider should do the trick.

Known as South American Goliath birdeater, the humongous eight-legged creepy crawly creature has a body the size of a fist and a leg span the size of a small child. Harvard entomologist Piotr Naskrecki recently encountered one while taking a nighttime stroll through a rain forest in Guyana.

PHOTO: Goliath birdeaters can have up to a 12 inch leg span.Allan Hopkins/Flickr
Goliath birdeaters can have up to a 12 inch leg span.

"When I turned on the light, I couldn't quite understand what I was seeing," Naskrecki told the website Live Science.

The spider can weigh up to six ounces, according to Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology, where Naskrecki is employed. Though it does not eat birds, as the name implies, it hunts worms, rats and other small animals.

PHOTO: Goliath birdeaters have 2 inch fangs that can pierce human skin.kingofthebigmacs/Flickr
Goliath birdeaters have 2 inch fangs that can pierce human skin.

Size isn’t the spider’s only chill-inducing quality. It makes loud clicking sounds with its front claws when threatened and defends itself by rubbing its back legs together to shoot clouds of microscopic barbs through the air that are highly irritating to the eyes and skin. If it chomps down on you with its 2-inch-long fangs, you probably won’t die, unless you are allergic. But its bite contains enough venom to make you sick for days.

PHOTO: The birdeating spider does not in fact eat birds. It subsists on worms and mice.Smithsonian Institution/Flickr
The birdeating spider does not in fact eat birds. It subsists on worms and mice.

Naskrecki said birdeaters are uncommon. He has only encountered three in all the years he has been traipsing through rain forests. He also did not specify whether his latest meeting ended in a capture for study.

But it’s a safe bet he couldn’t kill it with a shoe or trap it under a glass.