Giant Huntsman Spider: How to Identify the Largest Spider

The Giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda maxima) remains clouded in mystery even today. You can find pictures that have been edited to show this spider as meter long creature clinging to a garage door. You can find stock photos of it that have the wrong scientific names. But, what you cannot find are many facts.

Giant huntsman spider
Giant huntsman spider. Photo credit: Guhagarkar

Giant huntsman spider: Description.

The first discovery of this species was in 2001 in a cave in Laos. The Giant huntsman’s spider is about a foot wide, and most of the width comes from its leg span. 

The giant huntsman spider is often mistaken for a tarantula. However, a quick peek at the legs (a huntsman spider’s legs are splayed out) shows they look more like crab’s legs than a tarantula’s.

Indeed, much like a crab, the giant huntsman’s legs have twisted joints. These joints allow the spider to scuttle from side to side, like a crab. The spider’s legs are also very long compared to their body, allowing them to twist forward in a crab-like fashion.

The giant huntsman spider’s color is yellowish-brown, with several scattered dark spots on the rear half. Its legs are brown or gray and banded.

Males have longer legs, and females have larger bodies. 

Giant huntsman spider: Habitat and diet.

To date, only a single cave complex in Laos is known as the home of the giant huntsman spider. Near the mouth of the cave, it is here that the spider spends most of its time hunting for prey.

With their vision well-suited for slightly dark conditions, hairy legs that let them cling to walls, and the ability to move a meter in under a second, they are perfectly designed for hunting inside caves. 

The Giant huntsman spider’s diet includes rodents, frogs, lizards, other spiders, and large insects. They do not use webs to catch prey. Instead, these spider chase down their target, bite and inject a paralyzing venom into it, and finally use a digestive enzyme to consume it.

Heteropoda maxima can regenerate lost limbs.

Giant huntsman spiders can regenerate lost limbs like crabs, insects, and other spiders. This gives these spiders a significant chance of surviving an attack by a predator, but it does come at a cost.

Until the limb regenerates, a Giant huntsman spider with a missing leg is a less effective predator. 

Giant huntsman spider: Mating and reproduction.

During courtship, male Giant huntsman spiders vibrate their abdomens and produce a buzzing sound (detectable by humans in a quiet enough setting) when they detect the pheromones of an available female. 

If a female Giant huntsman spider likes what she hears, she will approach the male doing all that buzzing. Then, after mating, the female will use her pedipalps to carry her egg sac protectively underneath her until the eggs (up to 200) hatch.

The egg sacs’ shape and size render the female relatively immotile. And every stage of the growth of spiderlings and adults seems to occur throughout the year.

The female Giant huntsman spider will fiercely protect her egg sac during this period. She will make aggressive threat displays to warn off a threat and may attack and bite if further provoked.

Is the bite of a giant huntsman dangerous?

No,  A huntsman spider bite might cause some minor, short-lived short pain, and will be accompanied by some swelling, itchiness, and inflammation. In some cases, you could also have to deal with some nausea or headaches.

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Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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