Top 12 Largest Spiders in the World

Imagine encountering a spider the size of a dinner plate, lurking in the shadowy corners of a cave or stretched across a massive web in the rainforest. These giants among spiders not only fascinate but also strike fear into the hearts of many.

Here’s 12 spiders that represent the pinnacle of arachnid evolution—masters of both intricate web construction and diverse hunting tactics.

1. Goliath Birdeater

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The Goliath Birdeater is the world’s largest spider by mass. Native to the rainforests of South America, this colossal spider can reach a leg span of up to 11 inches (28 cm) and weigh more than 6 ounces (170 grams).

Despite its name, the Goliath Birdeater’s diet rarely includes birds. Instead, it primarily hunts earthworms, insects, and small amphibians. This nocturnal predator utilizes its size and strength to subdue prey, injecting venom through fangs that can be an inch long.

Additionally, it uses its hairs as a defense mechanism, releasing them into the air to irritate potential threats.

2. Huntsman Spider

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Huntsman spiders, with impressive leg spans reaching up to 12 inches (30 cm), are among the largest spiders by diameter. They are found in warm climates worldwide, including Australia, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and the Americas.

Unlike many large spiders, Huntsman spiders do not use webs to catch their prey. Instead, they are agile hunters that chase down insects and small vertebrates. Their diet mainly consists of insects and occasionally small lizards and rodents.

Huntsman spiders are known for their incredible speed and ability to climb smooth surfaces, aiding their hunting efficiency.

3. Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater

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The Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater is another massive spider, boasting a leg span of up to 10 inches (25 cm). Found in the rainforests of Brazil, this species is known for its distinctive pinkish hue on the tips of its legs. It primarily preys on insects, small lizards, and frogs.

This spider is a burrower, constructing deep tunnels in the ground where it waits for unsuspecting prey. When a potential meal approaches, the Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater quickly emerges to capture and consume its victim, using its powerful venom to immobilize the prey.

4. Giant Huntsman Spider

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The Giant Huntsman Spider, discovered in a cave in Laos in 2001, is the largest spider by leg span, with reports of individuals reaching up to 12 inches (30 cm). Its impressive size is complemented by its hunting method; similar to other huntsman spiders, it actively pursues prey rather than spinning a web.

This spider feeds on insects and occasionally small birds and mammals. Its long legs allow it to cover ground quickly and overcome prey with surprising agility.

5. Camel Spider

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Camel Spiders, also known as wind scorpions or sun spiders, are not true spiders but belong to the order Solifugae. Found in desert regions worldwide, they can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length. These formidable predators are known for their exceptional speed, which they use to hunt insects, lizards, and small rodents.

Primarily nocturnal and use their powerful jaws, some of the largest in proportion to their body size among arthropods, to crush their prey.

6. Colombian Giant Redleg

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The Colombian Giant Redleg is renowned for its striking appearance and considerable size, with a leg span reaching up to 7 inches (18 cm). Native to the rainforests of Colombia and Brazil, this species preys on insects, small mammals, and reptiles.

It’s a burrowing spider that creates deep shelters to ambush prey. Its hunting strategy involves waiting for the prey to come close before striking swiftly, using its venom to subdue the victim.

7. Greenbottle Blue Tarantula

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The Greenbottle Blue Tarantula, with its striking blue legs, green carapace, and orange abdomen, is not only one of the most beautiful but also among the largest tarantulas. Native to Venezuela, it has a leg span of approximately 6 inches (15 cm).

This species is known for its unusual webbing; unlike many other tarantulas, it spins extensive webs around its burrow.

Primarily feeds on insects and occasionally small lizards. Its vibrant coloration and semi-aggressive nature make it a fascinating subject of study and a popular pet among arachnid enthusiasts.

8. King Baboon Spider

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The King Baboon Spider hails from East Africa and boasts an impressive leg span of up to 8 inches (20 cm). This burrowing spider prefers to reside in dry savannah and scrubland habitats where it constructs deep burrows.

Its diet mainly consists of insects, but it’s also known to capture small rodents and reptiles.

The King Baboon Spider employs a “sit-and-wait” strategy. It remains motionless at the entrance of its burrow until prey ventures too close. Once in range, it strikes with astonishing speed, using its strong fangs to immobilize the prey.

9. Texas Brown Tarantula

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The Texas Brown Tarantula, found throughout the southern United States, has a leg span of up to 6 inches (15 cm). With its robust size and brown coloration, this spider is a classic example of a North American tarantula.

It feeds primarily on insects, though it can also take down larger prey such as small lizards and rodents.

The Texas Brown Tarantula is a nocturnal hunter, relying on its keen sense of vibration to detect approaching prey. Despite its formidable appearance, it is known to be relatively docile and is often sought after as a pet.

10. Sri Lankan Ornamental Tarantula

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The Sri Lankan Ornamental Tarantula is part of the Poecilotheria genus and is known for its vivid patterns and colors. With a leg span reaching up to 8 inches (20 cm), this species is native to the rainforests of Sri Lanka.

It is a tree-dwelling spider that hunts from the trees, where it preys on insects, small birds, and bats.

Highly agile and capable of moving swiftly across tree branches to capture prey. Its stunning appearance and fascinating behavior make it a coveted species among tarantula collectors.

11. Australian Funnel-Web Spider

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Although not as large as some other spiders on this list, with a body length of up to 2 inches (5 cm) and a leg span of about 4 inches (10 cm), the Australian Funnel-Web Spider is one of the most notorious.

Found in eastern Australia, it is equipped with one of the most potent venoms of any spider. It hunts primarily insects but can also take on small vertebrates.

The spider constructs funnel-shaped webs in moist, shaded areas, from which it launches surprise attacks on passing prey. Due to its aggressive nature and potent venom, it is considered highly dangerous to humans.

12. Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

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The Golden Silk Orb-Weavers is a genus of spiders known for spinning large, intricate webs of golden silk, some of the strongest natural fibers. They are widespread and found in warmer regions around the world.

Females can have a leg span of up to 6 inches (15 cm), and the web they construct is up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in diameter. Their diet mainly consists of flying insects, which they capture in their strong, golden webs.

The impressive size of the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver and its remarkable web is a sight to behold, showcasing the architectural prowess of these arachnids.

Human-Spider Interactions

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One of the most fascinating yet often misunderstood aspects of studying the world’s largest spiders is their interactions with humans. Despite their daunting size and appearance, these giants of the arachnid world are far less dangerous to humans than commonly feared.

Let’s try to dispel myths, offer safety tips, and shed light on the reality of human-spider encounters.

Dispelling Myths & Fears

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The fear of spiders, known as arachnophobia, is widespread, yet the risk posed by the majority of large spiders to humans is minimal. Many large spider species, such as the Goliath Birdeater or the Huntsman Spider, are not aggressive towards humans and will only bite if provoked or threatened.

Furthermore, their venom is not lethal to humans (with a few exceptions, like some species of the Australian Funnel-Web Spider).

Understanding that spiders, regardless of their size, generally prefer to avoid human interaction can help reduce fear and promote coexistence.

Recognizing Spider Benefits

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Spiders are natural pest control agents that play a crucial role in controlling insect populations. Large spiders, with their impressive hunting skills, are particularly adept at keeping insect and small pest populations in check.

By reducing the reliance on chemical pesticides, spiders indirectly benefit human agriculture and health.

Safety Tips for Encounters

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While encounters with large spiders can be startling, there are simple safety tips to ensure peaceful coexistence:

  • Avoid Provocation: If you encounter a large spider, do not attempt to touch or provoke it. Most spiders will retreat if given the opportunity.
  • Wear Gloves: When working in areas where large spiders may reside, such as woodpiles, sheds, or gardens, wearing gloves can prevent accidental bites.
  • Check Clothing and Footwear: In regions inhabited by large spiders, always shake out clothing, shoes, and bedding before use to avoid unwanted surprises.
  • Seek Medical Attention if Bitten: Although rare, bites from certain large spiders can cause discomfort or allergic reactions. If bitten, seek medical advice, especially if symptoms escalate.

Living in Harmony

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Many communities around the world live near large spiders without incident. Education and awareness about the behavior and benefits of these spiders can foster a harmonious coexistence. In regions with dangerous spiders, public health initiatives focus on education, safe housing practices, and access to medical care to mitigate the risk of bites.

The Role of Spiders in Research & Education

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Beyond their ecological role, large spiders have become subjects of scientific research and education, contributing to advances in materials science, venom research, and even phobia treatment methods.

Educational programs that demystify spiders and emphasize their role in the ecosystem can help change perceptions, turning fear into fascination.

When approached with respect and understanding, human-spider interactions can shift from conflict to coexistence. By recognizing spiders’ ecological benefits and adopting simple safety measures, humans can live alongside these remarkable creatures with mutual respect and appreciation.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.