What Kind Of Spider Eats Birds?

What Kind of Animals Eat Spiders?

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While most folks wouldn’t expect to see a spider on the menu, plenty of animals and insects are perfectly happy to catch a spider and chow down for an appetizing meal. Other spiders, parasitic wasps, birds, lizards, frogs and, yes, even some humans eat spiders as part of their regular diet.

Other Spiders

Several species of spider will kill and eat other spiders as part of their mating habits, a behavior known as sexual cannibalism. According to a 2012 study published in Behavioral Ecology, female spiders of the redback and orb-web species may kill males following mating in order to increase chances of reproductive success. By killing and consuming the male spiders, females could be gaining extra nutrition and taking control over the paternity of their offspring.


Multiple species of wasps view spiders as prey, including several species of dirt dauber wasps, as well as Calymmochilus dispar and Gelis apterus, two species discovered in Portugal in 2013. These wasp species are parasitic, laying their eggs inside the spiders, which remain alive but paralyzed as the eggs hatch so the wasp larvae will have fresh food as they grow.


A large number of insectivorous birds feed on spiders, including blackbirds, bluebirds, sparrows, crows, wrens and a European cousin of the chickadee known as the blue tit. The blue tit feeds large numbers of spiders to its chicks before they’re ready to leave the nest. According to Kathryn Arnold, an ornithologist at the University of Glasgow, this bird chooses spiders over other insect meals due to the larger amount of taurine found in spiders. Taurine is an amino acid that affects development, leading to increased intelligence, less anxiety and better eyesight. By feeding their chicks spiders, blue tit parents are ensuring that their offspring grow up to be brave and intelligent adult birds.

Amphibians and Reptiles

Lizards, frogs, and toads are among the animals that eat spiders, with young frogs and toads eating spiders as they grow into adults. There are hundreds of species of lizards, many of which are insectivorous and include spiders in their list of prey. Their diets help keep populations of spiders and insects under control; natural predation keeps spiders and pests from becoming too numerous and throwing the ecology of the lizards’ habitat off balance.


Even humans sometimes view spiders as a delicious meal. In Skun, Cambodia, spiders are deep fried and sold as a common street food, and live spiders are mixed into rice wine to create a natural medicinal liquor. The spiders are regularly sold to tourists passing through Skun on their way through Cambodia to other regions.

References (6)

  • ZooKeys; Hymenopteran parasitoids of the ant-eating spider Zodarion styliferum: tanislav Korenko 1, Stefan Schmidt, Martin Schwarz, Gary A.P. Gibson, Stano Pekár
  • Annenberg Learner: Going Buggy! Insect-eating Birds
  • Discover Magazine: Eating Spiders Can Fix a Bird Brain
  • Mississippi Department of Conservation: Lizards
  • Mississippi Department of Conservation: Toads and Frogs
  • CBS News: Cambodian Tasty Treat: Deep-Fried Spiders
See also:  What Spider Has A Violin On Its Back?

Photo Credits

  • Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images


Margot Freeman has been a writer since 2009. She currently works in social media within the tech industry, and has been volunteering with acclaimed Austin, Texas animal shelter Austin Pets Alive! since 2010. Freeman holds a Bachelor of science in audio and media technology.


Giant spider eating a bird caught on camera

By Bonnie Malkin in Sydney

3:00PM BST 22 Oct 2008

Photographs of a giant spider eating a bird in an Australian garden have stunned wildlife experts.

The pictures show the spider with its long black legs wrapped around the body of a dead bird suspended in its web.

The startling images were reportedly taken in Atheron, close to Queensland’s tropical north.

Despite their unlikely subject matter, the pictures appear to be real.

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Joel Shakespeare, head spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park, said the spider was a Golden Orb Weaver.

«Normally they prey on large insects… it’s unusual to see one eating a bird,» he told ninemsn.com.

Mr Shakepeare said he had seen Golden Orb Weaver spiders as big as a human hand but the northern species in tropical areas were known to grow larger.

Queensland Museum identified the bird as a native finch called the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.

Mr Shakespeare told ninemsn the bird must have flown into the spider web and become stuck.

«It wouldn’t eat the whole bird,» he said.

«It uses its venom to break down the bird for eating and what it leaves is a food parcel,» he said.

Greg Czechura from Queensland Museum said cases of the Golden Orb Weaver eating small birds were «well known but rare».

«It builds a very strong web,» he said.

But he said the spider would not have attacked until the bird weakened.

The Golden Orb Weaver spins a strong web high in protein because it depends on it to capture large insects for food.

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Does the Brain-slurping Goliath Birdeater Really Eat Birds?

After a scientist’s encounter with a birdeater went viral, we were left wondering about the truth of this spider’s name.

By Susan Kieffer
By Susan Kieffer
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Piotr Naskrecki was taking a late-night stroll, as one does, through a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard the sound of an animal running. «I could clearly hear its hard feet hitting the ground and dry leaves crumbling under its weight,» the Harvard scientist says. Racing toward him in the darkness was an eight-legged mammoth: a South American Goliath birdeater, the heaviest spider on earth. It weighs more than a third of a pound, and looks like something out of a horror movie. Its hairy legs span nearly a foot, and a full-grown one is about the size of as a newborn puppy. It is however, considerably less snuggly.

See also:  10 Biggest Spiders In The World

Naskrecki writes in his blog: «Every time I got too close to the birdeater it would do three things. First, the spider would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen. ‘Oh, how cute,’ I thought when I first saw this adorable behavior, until a cloud of urticating hair hit my eyeballs, and made me itch and cry for several days. If that wasn’t enough, the arachnid would rear its front legs and open its enormous fangs, capable of puncturing a mouse’s skull, and try to jab me with the pointy implements. The venom of a birdeater is not deadly to humans but, in combination with massive puncture wounds the fangs were capable of inflicting, it was definitely something to be avoided. And then there was a loud hissing sound.»

Soon after Naskrecki published the story of his encounter, the Internet went wild—both in response to the existence of the puppy-sized spider (of course), and the fact that Naskrecki euthanized a specimen to bring back to the Smithsonian Institute, where he works. (Collecting specimens is part of the scientific process, as Naskrecki eloquently explained on NPR.) What we were left wondering, though, was whether there was any truth to the spider’s name.

It turns out that the Goliath birdeater is an inventive killer. When it consumes a rodent, it pierces its victim’s skull with its fangs and injects a tissue-dissolving venom into the brain. Then, it slurps it up, like a brain slushie.

But as ominous as it sounds, the term birdeater is a bit of a misnomer. The name is derived from a fanciful 16th century illustration by the German Entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, which shows the animal astride the corpse of a freshly-killed hummingbird, tucking into the bird’s eggs.

In reality, the spider does most of its hunting on the forest floor, where it’s unlikely to catch a bird. Bird eggs on the other hand, are fair game. The spider has been known to crawl into a nest, sink its fangs into the eggs, and leave behind a pile of empty, withered shells.

The spider’s primary sources of sustenance are humble and flightless invertebrates, such as earthworms. Earthworms are plentiful in the forest, which is good, since the birdeater gobbles them up like candy. As Naskrecki put it in an interview with Live Science, «Earthworms are very nutritious.»

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Goliath bird-eating tarantula

  1. Animals
  2. Animals A-Z
  3. Goliath bird-eating tarantula

The biggest tarantulas in the world, Goliath bird-eating spiders live in the deep rainforests of northern South America. Despite their intimidating name, they don’t eat birds frequently.

Fun Facts

  1. Even with eight eyes, the Goliath bird-eating tarantula doesn’t see much. It uses the hairs on its legs and abdomen to sense vibrations on the ground or in the air.
  2. While their name has the term «bird-eating» in it, they don’t eat birds frequently.
  3. The Goliath bird-eating tarantula makes noise by rubbing bristles on its legs together. This hissing noise, called stridulation, is loud enough to be heard up to 15 feet away.
See also:  What Does A Brown Recluse Spider Web Look Like?

Conservation Status

  • Least Concern
  • Near Threatened
  • Vulnerable
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild
  • Extinct
  • Data Deficient
  • Not Evaluated

The overall color is russet brown to black, and there are distinct spines on the third and fourth pair of legs. The tarantula’s fangs fold under the body, meaning that it must strike downwards to impale its prey. Tarantulas have four pairs of legs, or eight legs total. In addition, they have four other appendages near the mouth called chelicerae and pedipalps. The chelicerae contain fangs and venom, while the pedipalps are used as feelers and claws; both aid in feeding. The pedipalps are also used by the male as a part of reproduction.

The Goliath bird-eating tarantula is the biggest tarantula in the world. The body measures up to 4.75 inches (12 centimeters) with a leg span of up to 11 inches (28 centimeters).

The Goliath bird-eating tarantula lives in the rainforest regions of northern South America, including Venezuela, northern Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. It lives in the deep rainforest, in silk-lined burrows and under rocks and roots.

If they need to defend themselves, they rub hairs together to create a hissing noise loud enough to be heard 15 feet away. They can also let their hairs loose and fling them at attackers. The goliath bird-eating spider may also rear up on its hind legs to show its large fangs as a further defense strategy.

As its name suggests, this species can eat birds and just about anything that is smaller than it is, including invertebrates and mice, frogs, lizards and birds.

At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, they eat cockroaches.

The Goliath bird-eating spider is generally solitary, and individuals only come together to mate.

After their maturation molt, males develop a «finger» on the underside of the first set of front legs that is used to hook and lock the female’s fangs and to steady themselves while they mate. After mating, males die within a few months.

The female must have recently molted in order to reproduce, or acquired sperm will be lost during the molt. Once mated, the female makes a web in which she lays 50 to 200 eggs that become fertilized as they pass out of her body. The female then wrap the eggs into a ball, and, unlike other species of tarantula, the female carries the egg sac with her. Egg sacs are almost the size of a tennis ball and contain around 70 spiderlings.

In order to grow, they must go through several molts. Molting is the process by which the tarantula sheds its old exoskeleton and emerges in a new, larger one. Spiderlings can be expected to molt five or six times in their first year. They take around two to three years to reach maturity.

The Goliath bird-eating spider is mostly active at night.

Their lifespan can be from 10 to 15 years in human care. Females can live up to 20 years, but males only live between 3 and 6 years.

Where to find the Goliath bird-eating tarantula

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