Spiders of the Amazon
| Wildlife & Flora
The Amazon rainforest is known for being home to an incredible range of animals and wildlife. Jaguars, manatees, sloths, toucans, butterflies, medicinal plants… and spiders. There are about 3,600 species of spiders inhabiting the Amazon basin, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Big, small, deadly, harmless, living out of sight or in plain view, the world of spiders in the Amazon is endlessly fascinating. From the classic Amazonian Tarantula to the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider, here all of the most interesting spiders of the Amazon- and everything you need to know about them!
Tarantulas have inhabited the Earth since the time of dinosaurs, and continue to reside in several parts of the world, often living up to 30 years of age.
Tarantulas are the largest spiders in the world, and the Amazonian variety is the largest of them all. Anyone visiting the Amazon rainforest can be sure to spot them. In fact, it’d be hard not to…Some adults can measure up to 13 inches across! Don’t worry though, because despite being the largest spiders of the Amazon, their bites are not venomous. A bite from a tarantula will usually feel similar to a bee or wasp sting, and has no lasting effects. The hairs covering their body, however, can be extremely irritating to human flesh, so maybe avoid getting too close!
These giants live in burrows in the ground or high in treetop nests, but can often be spotted on the sides of trees during the day or night. You’ll recognize their massive brown bodies, covered in the black and brown barbed hairs.
Another fascinating species of spiders in the Amazon, these much smaller creatures can also be quite alarming at first glimpse. They live in the rainforest canopy, and are known for leaping from tree to tree, using a safety line of excreted silk. They’re some of the friendliest spiders of the Amazon, as they’re quite curious. Anything new requires investigation, and that often includes unsuspecting travelers! Luckily, they’re also harmless to humans, so never fear if one jumps onto your snacks to inspect. Over 500 known species of jumping spiders exist in the Amazon, so your chances of spotting one are good.
The Brazilian Wandering Spider
Unlike the tarantulas and jumping spiders of the Amazon, the Brazilian Wandering Spider is one you might want to be a little more concerned about. Eight species of spiders fall under this category, all highly aggressive and venomous. They are part of the genus Phoneutria, coming from the Greek word for “murderess”, which is perhaps a more appropriate name for the dangerous arachnids. They are thought to be the most venomous spiders in the Amazon, and on Earth, and an untreated bite can kill a human in as little as 25 minutes.
There are eight different species of Brazilian wandering spiders, the largest being about 5 inches across. While it may seem big for a spider, it’s just small enough for them to sneak into exported fruits. Another nickname for these creatures is “banana spiders”, since they have been known to hide in bunches of bananas, remaining undiscovered until reaching lands as faraway as the USA or UK. These are the spiders you’ll hope not to see on an excursion into the Amazon.
The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider
Although they more regularly eat insects, reptiles and bats, the Goliath bird-eating spider got its name when an early Amazon explorer witnessed one eating a hummingbird.
If you can believe it, that’s not even the most shocking part of their diet: the female Goliath is known for sometimes eating their mates after copulation. On the bright side, males usually don’t live much longer anyways, often dying once they reach maturity, which is only one-fifth of the lifespan of females (females usually live up to 25 years). While the tarantulas are the largest spiders in the world, the Goliath has the largest body mass- they fall in second place due to leg span.
As terrifying as the Goliaths sound, their bites are similar to those of tarantulas in how they affect humans. Their fangs (sometimes up to 1.5 inches long) can easily puncture human skin, yet the venom is harmless to humans. Deep burrowers, a run-in with a Goliath bird-eating spider is not as common as with other spiders of the Amazon.
Luckily for insect enthusiasts, these are just four of the most interesting spiders of the Amazon- but there are over 3,000 more for you to discover! It’s the magic of the Amazon that you can see such wild insects, bigger than your hand, able to jump from tree to tree, even able to catch and eat birds. Travel with a knowledgeable tour guide and you can be sure to spot the best of the spiders of the Amazon (and know which ones to avoid!). Contact Us for more information about your next Amazon River Cruise.